Magazine article The Spectator

Islamic Fundamentalists Have a Special Loathing for Christianity

Magazine article The Spectator

Islamic Fundamentalists Have a Special Loathing for Christianity

Article excerpt

Islamic fundamentalists have a special loathing for Christianity

On Tuesday morning, an 85-year-old man was forced to his knees while his throat was slit by Islamic fanatics. The murder of Father Jacques Hamel in the church at Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen, has been recognised by western public opinion as an act of unspeakable barbarity. One could say that the facts speak for themselves. But for Catholics, this atrocity possesses a special horror.

Father Hamel was killed while re-enacting the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. That is the essence of the Catholic Mass, which -- unlike Protestant commemorations of the Last Supper -- is presented to the faithful as the same sacrifice offered by Jesus.

To kill a priest who is saying Mass is therefore an act of unique desecration. You do not need to be a believer to grasp this point. Enemies of the church have understood it since the beginning: an early pope, St Sixtus, was beheaded during Mass in 258 ad by agents of the Emperor Valerian.

Islamists, who reach back to the Dark Ages for so many of their actions, have rediscovered this crime. Their intense (and very successful) campaign to cleanse the Middle East of Christians reached its symbolic peak on 31 October 2010, when Father Thaer Abdal was shot dead at the altar of the Syrian Catholic church of Our Lady of Salvation in Baghdad. Fifty-seven other innocent people, many of them worshippers, died with him.

The gunmen who broke into the church during Sunday Mass were heard to scream: 'All of you are infidels... we will go to paradise if we kill you and you will go to hell.' They were members of an Iraqi faction of al-Qaeda that had declared war on churches, 'dirty dens of idolatry', and in particular 'the hallucinating tyrant of the Vatican'.

The motives of Islamic terrorists are sometimes hard to disentangle from their personal biographies and factional infighting. …

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