It’s hard to imagine what it must have been like to be a Christian student on the campus of Garissa University in Kenya this past week; called out of your dormitory by members of Shabab, an Islamic terrorist organization and ordered to recite Moslem prayers. And when it’s discovered you cannot do so, because you’re a Christian and not a Moslem, to be immediately shot in the head. One hundred and forty-eight innocent Christian students were massacred before government authorities gained control of the campus.
On April 14, 2014 276 Christian school girls were kidnapped from their school in Northern Nigeria. The kidnappers were members of Boko Haram, an Islamic terror organization. More than 50 of the school girls soon escaped, but the remainder has not been released. The remaining hostages are forcibly being converted to Islam or sold into slavery.
There is a war taking place against Christians in Africa and the Middle East and we Jews, well acquainted with violence and anti-Semitism, need to speak up. On Easter Sunday Pope Francis addressed this horrible reality in his homily.
Speaking from the window of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican, Pope Francis asked for “concrete participation and tangible help in defense and protection of our brothers and our sisters, who are persecuted, exiled, slain, beheaded, solely for being Christian.’
He added: “I hope that the international community doesn’t stand mute and inert before such unacceptable crimes, which constitute a worrisome erosion of the most elementary human rights. I truly hope that the international community doesn’t look the other way.”
Religious tolerance is a basic human right. I will be calling upon elected officials to respond to these heinous crimes against our brothers and sisters of faith. I ask you to do likewise.
Rabbi James Scott Glazier