(Heavy sigh) “Yes, Father Bud. But make it quick, okay? I have to get down to Masjid Tamerlane for an outreach meeting.”
“Yes, I know, Your G–”
“Kev. Yes, I know. That’s why I came in. I just wanted to let you know that Islamic jihadists have just kidnapped thirteen Christians in Libya –”
“Cripes! Where did they find thirteen Christians in Libya to kidnap? That land peacefully accepted the wisdom and power of Islam centuries ago.”
“Well, be that as it may, uh, Kev, they did. And so I was wondering if tonight when you’re down at Masjid Tamerlane –”
“Bud, really. How many times do we have to go down this road? You know full well, Bud, that talk about extreme, militant Islamists and the atrocities that they have perpetrated globally might undercut the positive achievements that we Catholics have attained in our inter-religious dialogue with devout Muslims. It might possibly also generate suspicion and even fear of people who practice piously the religion of Islam.”
“The thing is, Bishop, I just don’t see what that dialogue is doing to alleviate the plight of the –”
“Bud, really. Enough is enough. I am not going to offend Imam Khalid ibn al-Walid by bringing up these unpleasant things. Do you want me to bring you back some hummus?”
“Egyptian Christians Kidnapped in Libya Amid Escalating Violence,” by Salma El Wardany, Bloomberg, January 4, 2015:
Masked gunmen in Libya kidnapped 13 Coptic Christian workers from Egypt, in the latest incident of religiously-motivated violence in the war-ravaged North African country.
The workers were taken from a residential compound in the coastal city of Sirte yesterday, Egypt’s state-run Ahram Gate reported. The incident brings the number of abducted Egyptian Copts to at least 21 since last week. A Coptic couple was also found dead in the same city on Dec. 23.
Sirte is under the control of Islamist militants who oppose the internationally-recognized government of Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni, whose supporters include Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. Al-Thinni’s government sought refuge in the country’s eastern region after militias took over the capital Tripoli last year. Omar al-Hassi set up a rival government in the capital with the backing of the militants.
“It’s definitely religiously-motivated,” Mina Thabet, researcher at the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, said by phone from Cairo. “Egyptian Christians are caught up in the middle of sectarian violence and chaos in Libya.”
The North African nation has descended into chaos after the ouster of its Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi in a popular uprising. Battles between rival militias have driven citizens from their homes, sent foreigners fleeing and cut oil exports.
The Egyptian government is in contact with Libyan officials to secure the release of abducted Christians, Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty said by phone.