Nash Naam column: Any attack on a place of worship is evil, period

The whole world was shocked and dismayed at the horrific murder of innocent worshipers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Every Western country condemned the attack as a vicious senseless and evil massacre against innocent people at their places of worship. Every newspaper in the Western world also condemned the attack and exposed it for what it was; an evil attack against innocent people.

There is no way to describe these attacks against places of worship other than to expose it for what they really are; evil that the whole world should strongly and unequivocally condemn. There are no justifications, no excuses, no mitigating circumstances. Just pure evil. And all of us, no matter what religion we follow and what God we worship or not worship, should make it very clear that any attack on any place of worship is a heinous crime against humanity.

I have watched the coverage of this carnage on American TV. Every network and every cable news network covered the events with compassion for the victims and their families and loathing directed at the perpetrator. And that is what it should be.

But I could not help thinking of other attacks against places of worships that did not enjoy the same depth of coverage or the compassion compared to the last event. Many churches in Egypt have been destroyed and bombed and hundreds of innocent Egyptian Christians worshipers were killed at their places of worship and many more injured.

These attacks, for the most part, went unnoticed or got coverage on page 32 of the New York Times or Washington Post. It seemed to me that the Egyptian Christian victims are not as valuable as the Muslim victims in New Zealand. Perhaps the prevalence of violence in the Middle East and the frequent attacks against churches either in Egypt, Nigeria or Pakistan made the world desensitized to the suffering of the Christian minorities in the Middle East. When an attack happens in the Middle East, it is thought of as a continuation of a pattern of killing and destruction and so it does not even register in the conscience of the world. But for an attack to take place in a democratic country like New Zealand then the whole world takes notice. The whole world should make it very clear that any attack against any place of worship is pure evil and should be strongly condemned.

Another point: The whole Western world, in fact the whole world, condemned this latest attack against innocent worshipers. But I don’t recall any Muslim country condemning the attacks against churches in Egypt, Pakistan or Nigeria. The whole Muslim world, all the 59 countries, was up in arms condemning the attack against innocent Muslims, but their silence is deafening when it comes to attacks against Christians in Muslim majority countries.

Furthermore, despite the repeated attacks against Christian Churches in Egypt, there has been NOT a single attack against any mosque by a Christian. Actually, there have been several attacks against mosques in Egypt, but the attacks were by Muslims not Christians.

Places of worship should be thought of as havens of safety for anyone and everyone. We should label those attacks as crimes against humanity not just crimes. At least in America we label them as hate crime. In America if a crime is committed while using a weapon, we label it as a violent crime. We should add that any crime committed at any place of worship is a crime against humanity and we should add this as a mitigating factor when sentencing is considered. So, any place of worship should be a safe place for anyone to come under its protection. And we as citizen of the worlds should say in one voice that any attack against a place of worship is a crime against humanity. We should also provide a unified vision against these crimes no matter where they take place and no matter what the religious affiliation of the worshipers.

We need also to tell our fellow worshipers in mosques, temples, churches and chapels all over the world that we stand with you and we will do our utmost to protect you. But the whole world should make its voice very clear and unified. I urge those countries that condemn only the crimes against those who follow their religion to wake up and see that all attacks are the same: evil, sinister and horrific. We stay united; Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs and any other religion, by our faith in humanity and in goodness and in our ultimate desire to eradicate evil, no matter what shape shades, or type it takes.

Faith will prevail and love will prevail. Let us hope.

Nash Naam lives in Effingham.

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