Top Islamic University, Muslim Leaders Condemn ISIS' Slaughter of Ethiopian Christians, Say It Goes 'Against Any Religion'

An Islamic State militant holds a gun while standing behind what are said to be Ethiopian Christians in Wilayat Fazzan, in this still image from an undated video made available on a social media website on April 19, 2015. The video purportedly made by Islamic State and posted on social media sites on Sunday appeared to show militants shooting and beheading about 30 Ethiopian Christians in Libya. Reuters was not able to verify the authenticity of the video but the killings resemble past violence carried out by Islamic State, an ultra-hardline group which has expanded its reach from strongholds in Iraq and Syria to conflict-ridden Libya. Libyan officials were not immediately available for comment. Ethiopia said it had not been able to verify whether the people shown in the video were its citizens. |

The University of Al Azhar, the highest academic center of Sunni Islam, along with Muslim governments in the region have condemned the slaughter of 28 Ethiopian Christians in a video released by ISIS on Sunday.

The statement from Al Azhar, attributed to Imam Ahmed al-Tayyeb and sent to Agenzia Fides, calls the mass killings a "heinous crime, committed by the Daesh terrorist group, which goes against any religion, law or human conduct."

The university has also sent its condolences to the government and people of Ethiopia and to the families of the victims.

The Ethiopian Christians are believed to have been migrants traveling northward to Libya when they were captured by ISIS.

Al Azhar
Al Azhar mosque in the old city of Cairo December 2, 2011. |

The terror group has targeted Christians in its attacks throughout the past year, and in February executed 21 Egyptian Coptics in another video posted online.

Muhammad Dayri, the foreign minister of Libya condemned the latest murders carried out by ISIS, and called them "barbaric."

"This is not the first time that these hordes of ISIL operate with tragic and horrible actions in Libya," Dayri said at a meeting of African and Asian leaders in Jakarta, referring to the February executions.

Lebanon's Foreign Ministry also spoke out against the slaughter of Ethiopian Christians and the religious nature of the crime.

"The Foreign Ministry condemns, in the strongest terms, terrorist organization ISIS' slaughter and killing in cold blood of 28 innocent Christian Ethiopians in Libya, whose only sin was to not believe in ISIS' takfiri ideas and delusional teachings," the ministry said, expressing solidarity with the Ethiopian people in light of "this painful tragedy."

"This cowardly act is the best proof that there is no limit to the cruelty and brutality of ISIS, which has become rampant in more than one area, threatening international peace and security," the statement added.

Christian persecution watchdog groups meanwhile called on the U.S. government to take a leading role and battle the "genocidal hatred" of Christians expressed by ISIS.

"We must not stand idly by and watch as thousands of Christians are murdered for their faith. If Americans truly value freedom of religion, let us hold that value high and demand more be done to protect religious freedom around the world. Governments and NGOs should treat the rights of religious minorities as core human rights," said in a joint statement Open Doors USA President and CEO David Curry, along with The Simon Wiesenthal Center's Associate Dean, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, and Director of Interfaith Issues, Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein.

"This truth must motivate our nations. If we fail to counter ISIS' religious Nazi ideology, it will continue to infect the hearts and minds of the ever-growing number of youth around the world, ultimately leading to more senseless persecution and bloodshed. The time to act is now."

International Christian Concern regional manager for Africa, Troy Augustine, added: "The world should be awakened to the reality that Islamic extremist groups will stop at nothing to advance their brutal terrorist agenda, and that Christians continue to be at the center of their target. As such, ISIS represents a severe and expanding threat to the safety and security of Christians in the Middle East and North Africa."

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