In a statement issued on Monday, February 16, the Council of Middle East Churches condemns the murder of twenty-one Copts in Libya by the Islamic State. A crime “heinous and barbaric” perpetrated against “innocent”, a “violation of international law”, and condemned by all religions. The statement also calls on governments in the region and the world to “eradicate” the terrorist organization.

With deep sorrow we received the news of the heinous crime that terrorists, blinded by a hateful fundamentalism and guided by ignorance, beheaded innocent Coptic Christians in Libya. These innocents committed no crime. Simply, they believed the glorious teachings of Christ, in the One God and Creator of all, the path of love, the spirit of peace and brotherhood among men, according to the example of Abraham, the Prophets and Apostles.

Our words cannot describe the sadness and pain that grieve the hearts of all Christians, and all inhabitants of the Middle East, at the sight of these barbaric crimes that all religions condemn.

The Middle East Council of Churches condemns such crimes, saying that what is happening to Christians in the Middle East, Libya and other countries is a serious violation of international law and human rights as well as all international conventions. The Council sees the arrival of a dangerous demographic change in this region where the monotheistic religions were born, especially in a climate where innocent people no longer feel safe because of terrorism.

We believe in the right of every person to live in dignity where he chooses to live on this earth that God created, and in the right to preserve his religious identity and legitimate rights in his country. We therefore call on the governments of the region and all enlightened people, who are able to influence their surroundings, to assume their national and religious responsibility, and protect their fellow Christians, strengthening their efforts and coordination between them in order to limit the strength of this barbaric terrorism and eradicate it.

We pray that God may bless and protect our people, that He may pour His medicinal mercy and Hope on the souls of our martyrs, accepting them as offerings of love for Christ who told us: “Fear not those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mt 10: 28).