As I write these words, the blood of the 21 Egyptian martyrs has been absorbed without a trace by the Mediterranean Sea.
But their memories must not be forgotten without a trace, especially since they were kidnapped and beheaded by radical Muslims for one reason only: they were Christians, also known to many Muslims as the “Sunday people.”
In 1976, no less a scholarly authority than professor Bernard Lewis wrote,
“In the period immediately preceding the outbreak of the Six-Day War in 1967, an ominous phrase was sometimes heard, ‘First the Saturday people, then the Sunday people.'”
Writing in 2010, prolific Middle East author Lela Gilbert noted,
“First the Saturday people, then the Sunday people. Such graffiti can sometimes be found in Muslim neighborhoods in the Middle East. The ‘Saturday people’ are, of course, Jews, today nearly gone from Muslim lands. Now the ‘Sunday people’ – Christians – are in the crosshairs, and they, too, are fleeing at an alarming rate. Both religions are unwelcome in many Muslim-majority lands for reasons of Islamist ideology – the declaration of jihad, or holy war, against infidels.”
It is true that some have questioned how widespread such graffiti is, but what cannot be questioned is that the sentiment of the graffiti is very common in radical Islam: First the Jews, then the Christians.
It’s also true that at times past, Christians and Jews have lived in relative peace in Muslim lands, albeit as second-class citizens. But that is not the case where radical Islam reigns, as Christians from Nigeria to Iraq can testify.
And it’s true that Muslim terrorists will often look for a pretense to slaughter Christians, in the case of the 21 Coptic Christians, pointing to an Egyptian Christian woman who apparently converted to Islam before disappearing.
But the murderers made clear that these Christians were dying because they were Christians. That was their ultimate crime.
And that is the crime of Christians who are being slaughtered or fleeing for their lives in country after country today.
Skin color is not the primary issue.
Political affiliation is not the primary issue.
Ethnicity is not the primary issue.
Belief is the primary issue, specifically, Christian belief.
That’s why they are being martyred, and that’s why radical Muslims despise them so deeply.
When Boko Haram slaughters and kidnaps Christians in Nigeria, their victims have the same skin color and nationality they do. It is their beliefs that single them out for destruction.
The same holds true in Syria and other Islamic countries: The Christians speak the same language and share common ethnic descent. Their crime today is being confessors of Christ in the midst of radical Islamic war, and their only escape is to convert to Islam or to flee.
When it comes to the 21 martyrs, whatever the specific pretense of their kidnappers and murderers may have been, the larger message sent by the Islamic State was crystal clear. The video was titled “A Message Signed With Blood to the Nation of the Cross,” and the speaker on the video said this:
“Oh people, recently you’ve seen us … chopping off the heads that had been carrying the cross delusion for a long time, filled with spite against Islam and Muslims, and today we … are sending another message: Oh crusaders, safety for you will be only wishes.
“Especially when you’re fighting us all together, therefore we will fight you all together until the war lays down its burdens and Jesus peace be upon him will descend, breaking the cross, killing the swine.” (Dr. James White, a Christian scholar of Islam, has pointed out that the source for these last words is found in authoritative Islamic tradition.)
As noted by Daniel Greenfield at Frontpage Magazine, this is “all rather straightforward,” despite the Obama administration’s seeming inability (or unwillingness) to recognize that the Islamic State (in particular) and radical Islam (in general) is Islamic and that the Egyptian Coptic martyrs were killed because they were Christians and that the Jews killed in France were killed because they were Jews.
But to point out the shortcomings of the current administration is to distract from the blood of the martyrs, and we cannot remain indifferent to the horrific suffering endured by our brothers and sisters around the world. As stated in Hebrews 13 with regard to those suffering for their faith,
“Remember the prisoners, as though you were in prison with them, and the mistreated, as though you yourselves were suffering bodily” (Hebrews 13:3, HCSB).
These are the names of the 21:
- Milad Makeen Zaky
- Abanub Ayad Atiya
- Maged Solaiman Shehata
- Yusuf Shukry Yunan
- Kirollos Shokry Fawzy
- Bishoy Astafanus Kamel
- Somaily Astafanus Kamel
- Malak Ibrahim Sinweet
- Tawadros Yusuf Tawadros
- Girgis Milad Sinweet
- Mina Fayez Aziz
- Hany Abdelmesih Salib
- Bishoy Adel Khalaf
- Samuel Alham Wilson
- Worker from Awr Village
- Ezat Bishri Naseef
- Loga Nagary
- Gaber Munir Adly
- Esam Badir Samir
- Malak Farag Abram
- Sameh Salah Farug
They represent the names of hundreds of thousands of others, all victims of radical Islam, either killed or kidnapped or displaced or plundered or sold into slavery.
At the least, we should feel their pain, pray for those still alive and for the families of the dead, contribute to help alleviate their suffering and stand with those working to put an end to the hostilities.
Almost every day, we witness radical Islam’s vicious hatred for the “Saturday people.” These Muslim terrorists have now put their hatred for the “Sunday people” on full barbaric display.
We dare not ignore it.