The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has called upon President Barack Obama to condemn by name the Islamist terrorists who carried out attacks in Egypt, Iraq, Palestinian-controlled areas and Nigeria that have occurred in recent weeks and months. The ZOA has argued that it is inadequate that President Obama merely expresses condolences for the victims while failing to condemn the perpetrators by name or to put public pressure on the relevant governments to ensure the protection of Christians and other minorities.
A bomb blast in Alexandria, Egypt, killed 21 Christians at prayer during a New Years Day service at a Coptic church. The same day, a Nigerian Islamist group, Boko Haram (forbidden Western knowledge) bombed a military barracks in Abuja, Nigeria. Following these attacks, President Obama condemned the attacks but did not identify the attackers, saying, The perpetrators of this attack [in Alexandria] were clearly targeting Christian worshipers, and have no respect for human life and dignity. They must be brought to justice for this barbaric and heinous act The attack near an army barracks in Abuja also reportedly killed more than 20 people and wounded many more. Killing innocent civilians who were simply gathering like so many people around the world to celebrate the beginning of a New Year further demonstrates the bankrupt vision of those who carry out these attacks The United States extends its deepest condolences to the families of those killed and to the wounded in both of these attacks (Statement by the President on the terrorist attacks in Egypt and Nigeria, January 1, 2011).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, The ZOA shares the anguish and concern expressed by many, including President Obama, for the victims of these attacks, which deliberately targeted Christians. However, we believe it is simply inadequate for President Obama to condemn the attacks without identifying and condemning their perpetrators and their ideology. This is as delinquent as trying to combat the Soviet Union without mentioning communism.
We should be offering more than our condolences to the victims of Islamist terrorism we should be condemning the perpetrators by name and the jihadist cause they espouse. Unfortunately, the Obama administration refuses to do this most of the time.
President Obama generally refuses to speak about the Islamist enemy. Instead, he has spoken (in Ankara, Turkey, April 6, 2009) of rolling back the violent ideologies that people of all faiths reject, falsely suggesting that the terrorism is entirely unrelated to Islam, a suggestion he also repeated in his June 2009 Cairo speech.
In his 2009 presidential statements on the anniversaries of the 1983 killing of 242 U.S. servicemen in Lebanon by Hizballah or the 1979 seizure of the U.S. embassy in Tehran by the Iranian regime, to name two examples, President Obama failed to even mention the perpetrators of these acts. Terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, like that of Fort Hood sniper Nidal Hassan, are described as the acts of isolated extremists. Terms like Islamists and jihad are not even used.
The U.S. should also be pressuring the governments concerned to afford better protection to Christians and other minorities. This we have not been doing.
In Egypt, for example, a country in which we have leverage as a result of the high levels of aid that we give the Egyptian government ($2.1 billion annually), the 11-million strong Coptic Christian community has endured more than 40 organized attacks during the presidency of Hosni Mubarak (1981- present), including large scale attacks in Alexandria in 2005 and now again in the past week. Attacks on Coptic Christians in Zeitoun also occurred in 2008. In all these cases, the Egyptian authorities failed to provide Christians with real protection.
In Egypt, restrictive laws apply to Christians in the areas of housing, external appearance, performance of their religious rituals, and upkeep of their houses of churches, leaving most of them to have lapsed into disrepair. Typically, local Egyptian officials prevent Copts from rebuilding their churches.
This is not the same as terrorism and murder, but these discriminatory Egyptian policies and practices underscore the second-class status of Egyptian Christians, one which aids a culture of terrorism and violence against no-Muslims.
The U.S. must condemn these policies and pressure the Mubarak government to do more to protect Christians and other minorities.