Killings in churches, synagogues,  & now mosques

Published March 19, 2019, 12:40 AM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza & Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

E CARTOON MAR 19, 2019In November, 2017, a lone gunman fired  at  the congregation of the First  Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, United States (US),  killing 26 and wounding 20 others.  It  was  the deadliest shooting in an American place of worship  in modern history.

About  a year later, in October, 2018, a gunman killed 11 worshippers and  wounded  six  others  at  the Tree of Life  synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,  US,  the deadliest  attack against the American Jewish  community in US history.

At the time of these attacks, it was feared  that  the phenomenon of  Islamic terrorism born in the  continuing war in the Middle East  led by the  Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)  was beginning to spread around the world.  It  had  even  reached  the  Philippines where  the  St. Mary’s Cathedral  was besieged by ISIS-inspired  Maute  fighters who occupied  Marawi  City for the  next  six months.

Last  Friday,  two gunmen attacked  the Al  Noor Mosque  in Christchurch, New Zealand,  and another mosque in suburban Linwood, as Muslim worshippers gathered for Friday prayers. The gunmen  killed  a total  of 50 worshippers in the country’s worst-ever mass shooting.

There  have been many  several such  mass killings in several countries,  many in schools in the US, but these  three were doubly  unfortunate because  they were  carried out  in places  of worship,  against people gathered  for prayer.

Political and religious leaders around the world condemned  the mosque killings, with Islamic leaders  like  Pakistan Prime Minister  Imran  Khan  expressing concern over spreading  Islamophobia  since  the attack on the US World Trade Center  in New York City on September  11, 2001.  There have also been so many conflicts  around  the world  involving  fighters claiming to be inspired by the  ISIS  which  has been fighting for years in Syria and Iraq,  in Libya in North Africa, and now in Southeast Asia.

The  killings in the Baptist church in Texas in 2017 and in the synagogue in Pennsylvania  in 2018  were widely  condemned  as attacks on innocent people gathered for worship and prayer. The killings in the mosques in Christchurch  were  similarly  attacks on peaceful victims of still another faith.

The  world’s  Islamic  leaders  now fear that the  mosque attacks are the result of a growing tide of fear,  with  the world’s 1.3 billion  Muslims being collectively blamed  for any act of terror.  We pray  that  this fear aired by Pakistan’s prime  minister will not be borne  out by succeeding events  for  such  a conflict based  on  religious fear would be a tragedy for all humanity.