THE Kenyan students who died on Maundy Thursday were among the
"many martyrs" of the past year, the Archbishop of Canterbury said
in his Easter sermon.
The 148 people killed at Garissa University were "witnesses,
unwilling, unjustly, wickedly", Archbishop Welby said. As martyrs,
they challenged those Christians living in "comfort", asking "Are
you still witnesses?"
The Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Michael Jackson, said that
Christians continued to endure unspeakable suffering and
degradation, intimidation and displacement: "They carry the cross
of Jesus Christ in tangible and tactile ways that are unimaginable
In Easter messages, all three leaders of the main British
parties addressed the persecution of Christians. The Prime Minister
spoke of "a duty to speak out".
The Labour leader, Ed Miliband, wrote on Facebook: "My thoughts
are particularly with Christians in Syria, Iraq and other countries
where the church suffers terrible persecution. . . We must all do
everything we can to speak out against this evil and work to
alleviate the suffering of those who are persecuted simply for
The Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, emphasised that it was
important not to forget the "cruel and barbaric killings" in
The students were remembered, too, by Pope Francis, in his
Urbi et Orbi address on Easter Day.
Listing the many conflict-ridden parts of the world, the Pope
prayed for "peace, above all, for Syria and Iraq, that the roar of
arms may cease. . . . May the international community not stand by
before the immense humanitarian tragedy unfolding in these
countries and the drama of the numerous refugees."
"I am shepherding my flock through one of the darkest eras in
our long history", the Chaldean Archbishop of Erbil, the Rt Revd
Bashar Warda, wrote in an Easter reflection for The
Daily Telegraph. About 14,000 Christian families had fled
the Islamic State (IS) to Erbil, he said. Rows of tents have been
erected outside his cathedral.
He found hope, he said, in the testimony of two elderly women
released by IS despite refusing to convert after being threatened
One, Gazella, had told them: "My vision of paradise is not
yours. It is about love, forgiveness, peace, and mercy. But if you
want to kill me for what I believe, I am willing to die."
The Archbishop reiterated his plea, made in London (General
Synod, 20 February): "We need the UK's help - technical aid,
financial assistance, intelligence, and indeed military support -
to oust these fanatics from our lands. It is possible, but only if
we act together."
Last week, the Iraqi army, working with Shia militas, took the
city of Tikrit back from IS. Mass graves of soldiers have been
discovered. The group still holds significant swaths of both Iraq
On Sunday, it blew up a church in an Assyrian Christian village
in the north-east of Syria, the state news agency reported. The
region - Hassakeh - is where dozens of Christians were kidnapped by
militants in February (News,
27 February). The Assyrian Christians, have set up their own
protection force to evict IS.
Militants have also released video footage depicting the
destruction with mallets and rifles of ancient artefacts in the
UNESCO World Heritage site of Hatra in Iraq.
A social-media campaign #Unite4Heritage was launched at the
University of Baghdad by UNESCO last week. Young people, especially
from the Arab region, are encouraged to share photos and stories
about heritage sites that they value.
They called on Jesus as they died
THE massacre of 148 people at a Kenyan university by
Islamist militants is the whole world's problem, the Archbishop of
Kenya, Dr Eliud Wabukala, has said.
"This latest outrage is not just an attack on Kenya, but
part of an assault on world peace," he said in his Good Friday
message. "The time has come for the world to unite as never before
in defeating this growing menace."
Hundreds of students marched through Nairobi on Tuesday
to demand more protection.
Security forces finally brought an end to an assault on
Garissa University by Al Shabaab, a recognised affiliate of
al-Qaeda, 15 hours after gunmen entered the campus at 5.30 a.m. on
The Daily Nation newspaper
reported that members of the Christian Union, who had gathered to
pray, were the first students to be killed. It has been reported
that the gunmen singled out Christians to be killed. One survivor
told Reuters that three girls had been shot after praying "Jesus,
please save us."
Dr Wabukala has called on the Kenyan government, which
is facing severe criticism for its handling of the attack, "to do
all in its power to protect the lives of its citizens".
The Nation reported that special forces had
received an alarm at 6 a.m. but did not leave Nairobi until 12.30
p.m. and did not arrive at the campus until 5 p.m. It says that the
Government was aware of threats in the region, and that one plane
took government officials to Garissa, near the Somalia border,
"rather than first taking the life-saving help that was needed to
save the besieged students". It has accused the government of
"negligence on a scale that borders on the criminal". The Foreign
Minister, Amina Mohamed, told CNN on Monday that the response of
the security forces had been "adequate", and pointed out that 663
of the 800 students taken hostage had been rescued: "We did our
best with the resources that we had."
At a Good Friday service, the Bishop of Mombasa, the Rt
Revd Julius Kalu, said that the terrorists wanted to split the
country on religious lines. "This must be resisted."
"We have been living with our Christian brothers for all
these centuries," Abdullahi Salat, chairman of the Supreme Council
of Kenyan Muslims, told CNN. "We'll continue living with them. . .
Anybody who does anything to divide us is just wasting his
Al Shabaab has said that the attack was revenge for the
presence of Kenyan soldiers in Somalia, but also for the
mistreatment of Kenyan Muslims, Reuters reported. Since the Kenyan
army went to Somalia in 2011 on a peacekeeping mission backed by
the UN, Al-Shabaab has killed at least 470 people in
The Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta, said on Saturday
that "the planners and financiers of this brutality are deeply
embedded in our communities."
One of the gunmen was the son of a Kenyan government
official. All four were killed during the siege and their bodies
were paraded through the streets of Garissa.
The Kenyan air force announced on Monday that it had
destroyed two al Shabaab camps in Somalia.
"While governments have a vital role, even more
important are the hearts and minds of ordinary people," Dr Wabukala
said on Friday.
"We will not be intimidated, because we know and trust
in the power of the cross, God's power to forgive our sins, to turn
death into the gate of glory, and to make us his children for