They are now dead because they were Christians. In Libya, just a few hundreds of miles from Athens and Rome, our Christians brothers and sisters are being slaughtered.
Parce, Domine, parce populo tuo: ne in aeternum irascaris nobis!
Islamic State jihadists have released a video showing the murder of 21 Egyptians, who they captured in Libya around Christmas.
The Egyptians, dressed in orange jump suits, were beheaded after being forced down on the ground. The video appeared on the Twitter feed of a website that supports Islamic State. A caption on the five-minute video read: "The people of the cross, followers of the hostile Egyptian church."
Before the killings, one of the militants stood with a knife in his hand and said: "Safety for you crusaders is something you can only wish for."
The 21 men, all migrant workers hailing from impoverished areas of central Egypt, were kidnapped between late December and early January. Fourteen came for the same village, Al-Our. [Source]
... President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi warned that his country would respond to the deaths as it saw fit. Speaking on national television hours after the release of the video, Sisi said Cairo would choose the "necessary means and timing to avenge the criminal killings". [Source]
[Video stills from Le rouge et le noir.]
[Update: Pope Francis spoke impromptu on the massacre this Monday:]
I allow myself to make use of my mother language [Spanish] to express a deep and sad sentiment. I could read today on the execution of these 20, 21, 22 Coptic Christians. They said solely, "Jesus, help me." They were murdered by the mere fact that they were Christians. You, brother [speaking to the moderator of the church of Scotland], spoke in your address of what is happening in the land of Jesus. The blood of our Christian brothers is a screaming testimony. Whether they be Catholics, Orthodox, Lutherans, it does not matter: they are Christians. And the blood is the same, the blood confesses Christ. Recalling these brothers who were killed by the mere fact of confessing Christ, I ask that we encourage ourselves mutually to move forward with this ecumenism that is inspiring us, the ecumenism of blood. The martyrs belong to all Christians.