The Monday Martyrs
Each Monday we post something special about a particular Christian martyr or group of martyrs, past or present. It might be a known quote, a powerful prayer that was offered up to God by a martyr, something written by a martyr, a short biographical piece about an historic Christian martyr, etc. The purpose of The Monday Martyrs is to keep in remembrance the price that has been paid by those who have sacrificially given their lives for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Gospel. We are currently living in a time when Christian martyrdom is increasing around the world. Our prayer is that each person who reads this series, comes to a profound and powerful understanding that the faith we as Christians proclaim today, was brought to us through the blood and sacrifice of faithful saints who came before us.
Today we look at the approximately 30 Ethiopian Christians who were just martyred yesterday, Sunday, April 19th, 2015
In a gruesome replay of beheadings of captive Egyptian Coptic Christians, an Islamic State video disseminated on social media Sunday purportedly shows the point-blank shootings and decapitations of two groups of Ethiopian Christians in Libya. There was approximately 30 men who were martyred, all told.
The video switches between footage of the captives in the south being shot dead and the captives in the east being beheaded on a beach. The same English-speaking fighter who presided over similar killings in a video released in February declares, “We are back again.”
In the new video, released one week after Eastern Rite Christians celebrated Easter, the black-clad apparent ringleader informs “the nation of the cross” that Christians falling under Islamic State’s control face death if they do not accept Islam, according to a transcript provided by the U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant activity. The killings were carried out to “take revenge for Muslim blood,” the chief executioner said.
“We swear to Allah … you will not have safety, even in your dreams, until you embrace Islam,” he said. “Our battle is a battle between faith and blasphemy.”
In the video, black-clad captives kneel before a line of masked fighters dressed in military-style camouflage uniforms and armed with automatic weapons, with a few scrubby tree branches in the background. Most of the kneeling men bow their heads, but in a still photo, one directs an abjectly terrified gaze at the camera.
Elsewhere, more African-appearing men are forced to kneel on the beach, their orange jumpsuits — like those seen in previous videos — contrasting with the bright blue water behind them. Like the February video, this one lingers on the aftermath of their beheadings, with the waves stained red with blood and the executed men’s severed heads placed atop their corpses with faces plainly visible.
The exact number of victims could not be determined from the videos, which panned along the lines of men, but the two groups together appeared at least as large as that of the slain Coptic Christians, if not larger. They were identified in a caption as adherents of “the hostile Ethiopian church.”
The video’s date and locations could not be independently verified, but depictions of previous killings have been authenticated by Western intelligence services.
Libya has fallen into chaos, with an array of heavily armed militias battling for political power and energy wealth. They are organized loosely into two factions loyal to either the Islamist-leaning former parliament or an internationally recognized government based in the country’s east.
Neither has gained the upper hand in months of fighting that has caused tens of thousands of Libyans to flee their homes, and international mediation efforts have failed. Christians have been at particular peril.
Islamic militant groups across North Africa have declared allegiance to the Sunni Muslim militants of Islamic State, whose home base lies in a swath of Iraq and Syria. In Libya, militants identifying themselves as Islamic State loyalists have carried out strikes, including the deadly bombing of a luxury hotel in Tripoli in January.
The violence against Christians by Islamic State and other groups has drawn expressions of horror from Christian leaders, including Pope Francis. On Sunday, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby was visiting Egypt to express condolences over the Copts’ executions.
(Compiled from various news sources)