Again: Contrasting ideals of martyrdom on stark display, as several attackers subsequently detonated suicide vests.
Those ideals have clear and far-reaching implications for the character of their respective cultures, societies, and civilizations, where giving one’s life for what is believed to be a noble cause is a supreme form of sacrifice and personal attainment. Many priorities fall into line from there, for better, or much, much worse.
And of course, nothing says “peace” and “tolerance” quite like barging into a Mass and later shooting the priest in cold blood. “Baghdad church hostage drama ends in bloodbath,” from BBC News, November 1 (thanks to Lokar):
The BBC’s Jim Muir in Baghdad says that the full death toll remains unclear
More than 30 people have been killed as Iraqi security forces stormed a Catholic church in central Baghdad to free dozens of hostages being held by gunmen there, security sources say.
Seven members of the Iraqi security forces and at least five attackers were among the dead but officials said most hostages were rescued.
About 100 people had been inside Our Lady of Salvation for an evening Mass.
The gunmen had reportedly demanded the release of jailed al-Qaeda militants.
The local TV station, al-Baghdadiya, said it had received a phone call from someone claiming to be one of the attackers, who said they were from the Islamic State of Iraq, a Sunni militant umbrella group to which al-Qaeda in Iraq belongs.
Reports said the attackers were not Iraqis, but foreign Arabs.
The raid came two days after a suicide attack on a cafe in Diyala province left 21 people dead.
Residents of Baghdad’s Karada district, where the attack took place, first heard a loud explosion at about 1700 (1400 GMT), followed by gunfire.
Police said a group of armed men began by attacking the Iraq Stock Exchange building, and then took over the Catholic church just across the road, clashing with guards and killing some of them.
Security forces later surrounded the church and sealed off the area, with helicopters hovering overhead. Then they stormed the building.
Witnesses nearby said they then heard two explosions from inside the church and more shooting.
One eyewitness, who was inside the church, was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying that the gunmen “came into the prayer hall and immediately killed the priest”.
The witness, who declined to give his name, said the people in the church had huddled into the main prayer hall when the gunbattles began with the security forces.
The gunmen reportedly threw grenades and blew their suicide vests….