People worldwide are still mourning the victims of the terrorist attacks in Brussels. But concern, condolences and prayers should also go out to citizens in several other countries hit by terrorism in recent weeks.
Pope Francis expressed the world’s pain in his Easter message, going beyond Belgium to reflect on recent carnage in Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria, Turkey, Iraq and the Ivory Coast. Had he delivered his homily a bit later, he no doubt would have included Pakistan, where at least 69 people were killed and 300 injured Sunday after a suicide bomb blast detonated by a swing set in a park in Lahore. (On Monday, the pope called the attack “vile and senseless.”)
The victims — many of them children — were specifically targeted because of their faith, a spokesman for a Taliban splinter group claimed. The mass killing was a “blessed operation” that “targeted the Christian festival of Easter,” a group spokesman said.
Easter, of course, isn’t a “festival,” but the religion’s holiest day. And the attack added to the rising slaughter of Christians by terrorists. Just last week, the U.S. State Department accused the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) of committing genocide against Christians. But Secretary of State John Kerry rightly added Yazidis and Shiite Muslims to the list of genocidal victims, underscoring the fact that radical Islamic terrorists are targeting many faiths, including Kurds and some Sunnis, let alone civilized society itself. And, of course, it’s not just ISIL, but Al-Qaida, the Taliban and offshoots like the Jamaat-e-Ahrar — the perpetrators of the Pakistani slaughter — whose actions show the terrorist threat is metastasizing.
This threat is formidable, but in the long run it cannot compete against the political, economic and, most important, moral force of the vast majority of people — including Muslims — who utterly reject this kind of nihilism.
Ideologies will differ, but leaders of all civilized nations must work together to develop more effective anti-terrorism efforts. Sadly, the Pakistani attack likely won’t be the last, but momentum needs to shift toward eliminating this evil from the lives of citizens worldwide.