The Fire in Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral
Holy Week 2019 began tragically, with the April 15 fire in Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral, a major symbol of Christendom.
No conclusion can be drawn from the news, whether the fire was accidental or intentional. What is certain is that France has been suffering constant attacks on its churches. In 2018 alone, 1,063 churches and religious monuments were desecrated, vandalized, or destroyed. In 2017, it was 878. This year, in a single week in February, five churches were attacked; in March, there was a criminal arson at the famous Paris church of Saint Sulpice.
The above facts and figures lead one to at least suspect that the fire at Notre Dame of Paris was no mere accident.
Islamic Terrorist Attacks on Sri Lanka
Holy Week, which began with the stupor caused by the burning of the Paris Cathedral, ended in an even more tragic way with the bloody terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.
Successive suicide bombings carried out in two Catholic churches, one Protestant temple, and several luxury hotels resulted in 253 deaths and more than 500 injuries.1
According to the authorities, the eight suicide bombers belonged to the Islamic movement National Thowheed Jamath (NTJ). However, the length and meticulous preparation required by the simultaneous attacks led the same authorities to conjecture there was international coordination, as that small group alone would not have the means to carry out such attacks. A few days later, ISIS claimed responsibility for the crime.2
Rich and Cultured Terrorists
Junior Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardene reported that the suicide bombers came from rich families and had studied in universities, some of them abroad.3
Two of the suicide bombers were sons of a wealthy spice merchant, Mohamed Yusuf Ibrahim, who lived with his family in a three-story house occupying a whole block. The eldest of them, Inshaf Ibrahim, was a 38-year-old businessman married with children. The other, Ilham, was 36. When police attempted to enter the house after the attacks, Inshaf’s wife, Fatima, caused an explosion in which she died along with her three children. Y.M. Ibrahim was also arrested for links to the attacks.4
What reasons would have led a rich family to link up with terrorists and some of its members to commit suicide attacks on peaceful and defenseless people, praying in churches or staying in hotels? What could have turned such people into cold killers?
Since the terrorists were not after wealth or prestige but instead had decided to give up wealth, family and even life, their goal had to be something dearer than wealth, family and life. It could only be the promise of some eternal and permanent prize in the next life, a prize without proportion to earthly things. Now then, only a religion can offer such a reward (heaven) for practicing a good deed.
The conclusion is inescapable: what drove those wealthy businessmen to perpetrate such a crazy and cruel action by killing innocent people and themselves was faith in a religious creed that promised them Paradise as a prize for their action.
What Religion Offers an Eternal Reward for Acts of Suicide-bomber Terrorism?
Although Islam forbids suicide, mujahedin5 suicide attacks are considered legitimate acts of martyrdom.
Indeed, in 2002, two-hundred Sunni and Shiite scholars (Ulemas) assembled in Beirut, discussed the legitimacy of suicide attacks. In the final document, they stated that “[t]he actions of martyrdom of the mujahidin are legitimate and have their foundation in the Qur’an and in the prophet’s tradition.”6
As for killing followers of other religions, Islam not only authorizes but also orders it in the name of Allah.
In fact, in the Koran, 164 verses preach Jihad, that is, holy war, against the infidels. For example, “Kill the unbelievers wherever you find them.” (Koran 2:191) “The Jews and the Christians are perverts: fight them…” (Koran 3:85)
In short, those who kill or die in Jihad, who “slay and are slain” (Koran 9: 111), are considered martyrs and will receive as prize a “paradise” conceived in a sensual and earthly way.8
“Radical Preacher” or Radical Doctrine?
Whenever an Islamic terrorist attack occurs, some people attribute them to the influence of a “radical preacher” rather than to the very doctrine and practice of the religion of Muhammad. It has happened again.
But the doctrines preached by “radical Mullahs” are in the Koran and hadith, accepted by all Muslims—both moderate and radical—as the word of God or Muhammad’s. What can happen (and indeed happens) is that, for reasons of temperament or Islamic school, some draw, from those texts, consequences that others do not.
Asked whether ISIS followed Islamic doctrine, Fr. Samir Khalil Samir, a well-known Catholic Islamicist, answered: “ISIS is the application of what is taught. It’s not outside Islam, or something invented…. ISIS is not doing anything which is neither in the Quran nor in the Mohammedan tradition. Everything is taken after a decision taken by an imam. A mufti and imam will say this is or is not allowed.”9
Thus, while one cannot say that every Muslim is a terrorist, one cannot deny that the doctrines of Islam lend themselves to violence. Suffice it to look at history, which shows how Islam advanced throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and part of Europe through military conquest, “holy war,” Jihad.
Let Us Invoke the True Martyrs of Sri Lanka
The true martyrs of the Sri Lankan massacre are not the Islamic suicide killers but their victims, the Catholics who on Easter Sunday bore witness to one of the major dogmas of our Faith, for as Saint Paul says, “if Christ be not risen again, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain” (1 Cor. 15:14).
Numerous children and pious adults were among the dead at the Easter Masses in Sri Lanka.
Let us ask these martyrs to intercede with God for our civil and religious authorities to understand the danger of opening our borders to the Muslim masses whose ultimate goal is to impose sharia, the “Prophet’s law” on the whole world.
- See Michael Safi, “Death toll in Sri Lanka bombings revised down to 253,” The Guardian, Apr. 25, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/apr/25/death-toll-in-sri-lanka-bombings-revised-down-to-253.
- “Sri Lanka attacks: Who are National Thowheed Jamath?, BBC, Apr. 28, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-48012694. “Sri Lanka bomb attacks were revenge for New Zealand mosque killings: Minister,” CNBC, Apr. 23, 2019, https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/23/sri-lanka-detains-syrian-in-investigation-of-blasts-toll-rises-to-321.html.
- Joanna Slater and Amantha Perera, “Sri Lankan spice tycoon’s sons and daughter-in-law were suicide bombers in Easter attacks,” The Washington Post, Apr. 25, 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/sri-lanka-reveals-identities-of-suicide-bombers-behind-easter-massacres/2019/04/24/5df35f60-6611-11e9-a698-2a8f808c9cfb_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.0614a8e030eb.
- Jason Burke, “Why Sri Lanka attackers’ wealthy backgrounds shouldn’t surprise us,” The Guardian, Apr. 25, 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/apr/25/why-sri-lanka-attackers-wealthy-backgrounds-shouldnt-surprise-us.
- Mujahidin is the plural form of mujahid, the term for one engaged in Jihad.
- Samir Khalil Samir, S.J., 111 Questions on Islam (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2008), 77.
- Sahih Muslim 1:33, https://sunnah.com/muslim/1.
- See Luiz Sérgio Solimeo, Islam and the Suicide of the West (Spring Grove, Penn.: The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family, and Property-TFP, 2018), ch. 17.
- Edward Pentin, “Father Samir: Egypt’s Palm Sunday Terror Reflects a Sickness Within Islam,” National Catholic Register, Apr. 13, 2017, http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/father-samir-egypts-palm-sunday-terror-reflects-a-sickness-within-islam.
- Rachael Dexter, Rachel Eddie, and Matt Coughlan, “Sri Lanka attacks: Aus dad tells of the moment he found his daughter’s body,” Stuff, Apr. 23, 2019, https://www.stuff.co.nz/world/asia/112222833/sri-lanka-attacks-aus-dad-tells-of-the-moment-he-found-his-daughters-body.