In the aftermath of separate incidents of violence in Denmark, Libya and Nigeria this past weekend, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has issued a statement calling for “deep compassion for the bereaved and killed” and prayers for world peace.
On Feb. 14, two people were killed and five injured in Copenhagen when a gunman opened fire during a debate on free speech and later attacked the city’s main synagogue. The victims were identified as Danish filmmaker Finn Norgaard and Jewish volunteer security guard Dan Uzan. Police killed the suspected gunman, identified as Omar Abdel Hamid el-Hussein, during a shootout on Feb. 17. El-Hussein had been released from jail about two weeks ago after serving time for a stabbing incident on a train, according to media reports. He had, on a Facebook post, sworn allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, said CNN.
In Libya, militants released a gory video purporting to show a branch of the self-proclaimed Islamic militant state ISIS beheading 21 men, reportedly Coptic Christian labourers from Egypt.
Meanwhile, Boko Haram, a Muslim militant group in Nigeria, was reported to have attacked several towns in neighbouring Cameroon, where they kidnapped 20 people, and in Chad, where they killed four civilians and a soldier.
“The terrible cruelty of the murders in Denmark, Libya and Nigeria call for deep compassion for the bereaved and killed,” said Welby in a statement issued on Feb. 16.
“The killers seem to rejoice in ever more extreme acts carried out to inflict ever greater terror. We must all weep with those affected, and know that in the love of Christ all evil will be overcome.”
Addressing the situation in Libya, Welby noted that the Coptic church’s response has been one of courage and faith. “The light and peace of Christ are at the heart of the faithful lives of Christians, and will not be overcome by the darkness which ISIS seek to spread.”
In a related development, the general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) has sent a letter of solidarity to the bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark.
“The church has a special calling to show that this unity of humanity is real; in addition, I know and trust that you and your church are among the strongest voices for basic solidarity with the victims and all those affected by these criminal acts,” said the Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit in his letter to the bishop of Copenhagen, Peter Skov Jakobsen.
Tveit expressed concern for the plight of Jewish citizens who have been “targets of terror and violence” in the attacks. “The attack on them is an attack o the whole society,” he said, noting that they “belong to and have their place in our societies, historically, now and in the future.” In his letter, Tveit also said he was encouraged to hear messages of solidarity for Muslims who might feel stigmatized by the events.