WASHINGTON TIMES — A pair of Islamic State-linked terrorists slit a priest’s throat at the altar of a Catholic church in northern France on Tuesday before videotaping a “sermon” in Arabic to mark the ritualistic slaughter — the fourth attack in a week by the terrorist group, which since June has claimed responsibility for killing more than 600 people in several countries, including the U.S.
The killing of the Rev. Jacques Hamel, 85, as he celebrated Mass at a small church near Rouen, marked the first time that the Iraq/Syria-based group targeted a church in the West, sending a shudder through religious communities that have highlighted the militants’ persecution of Christians in the Middle East.
“I’m not aware of another one in the West. However, their targeting of Christianity and looking at this as a religious war is not new,” said Travis Weber, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council, a conservative think tank in Washington.
Congressional Republicans lauded the Obama administration in March for saying Islamic State fighters were responsible for genocide against Christians and other religious minorities, though they felt that assessment was long overdue. On Tuesday, they feared the church attack in Normandy presaged a wave of new attacks as extremists lash out against the West.
“The president needs to ensure that Americans are safe and that such attacks against Christians will not happen in the U.S.,” said Rep. Vern Buchanan, Florida Republican. “We are at war with radical Islam and ISIS terrorists.”
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