I would suggest that few people in the UK or in Europe will have known that the Coptic Cathedral of St Mark is the burial place of the gospel writer, Mark the Evangelist. Mark is unique among the apostles. He is the 'youth' who ran away naked from the Garden of Gethsemane. His parents owned the house and provided the Upper Room in which the Last Supper took place and it is likely that, as a young teenager he was present at that meal. He was the companion of St Peter in Rome and wrote the Gospel that bears his name there, undoubtedly from Peter's reminiscences and he was also a friedn or acquaintance of the sons of the man we know as Simon of Cyrene, even mentioning them by name in his Gospel. His is one of the few tombs we can be confident of identifying - and the cathedral that bears his burial place is one of the holiest places outside of the Israel itself for all Christians.
As Raymond Ibrahim says, this attack was an attack on the whole of Christianity, not just on the local congregation or church. It is part of a much wider pattern. It is part of the civil war in Mali, in Nigeria and in a number of other 'Arab' states. I use the parenthesis here because the term 'Arab Spring' is a western one and most of the folk they have labelled thus are offended by it, since they are not 'Arab' nor are they descendents of the Arabs. Indeed, what the west has chosen to ignore, or perhaps refused to acknowledge, is that the revolutions have, without exception, brought the fundamentalists to power, with all the baggage they espouse - and which, as I wrote yesterday, the 'Liberal-Left' refuse to acknowledge that they endorse.
Returning to the subject of my title, during a stay in Libya pre-revolution, I did manage to attend Mass on one occasion. It was celebrated in a school hall, permitted after a lengthy delay while the keys were 'found' by the custodian, by the Bishop of Benghazi. From him I learned that his cathedral (another very historic place to Christians in North Africa) had been burned down a few years before and its reconstruction and repair were being hindered by a combination of intimidation, theft of the materials and official obstruction. I have since learned that it has got far worse. The Bishop's email has been hacked and he now suffers Denial of Service, his post is intercepted and all donations to his community and congregation are confiscated.
I know this is not the way the vast majority of Muslims behave or even think. I have a large number of Muslim friends and I respect their beliefs just as they respect mine. The problem is that the heart and soul of Islam has been highjacked by a small section of extremists who preach 'jihad' against Christianity and the west. They want to recreate the ancient Caliphate and a world in which the Sharia Law is applied to everyone. Theirs is not the ambition or the view of the majority, but they are the ones now in power in Iran, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, so-called Palestine and several other parts of the Middle East. Theirs is not a message of 'peace and love' as the western Liberal-Left tries to proclaim, theirs is a message of oppression and suppression.
The attack on St Mark's Cathedral is only the latest and most high-profile in a long, long list. No one in the west now recalls the occupation and desecration of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. It was 'only' a Christian shrine and I have even heard some secularists sneer that 'the place should be pulled down' because 'it only marks a Medieval fantasy and reinforces a Christian myth.' Fine, as long as all this 'nonsense' stays in the Middle East. In this line of thinking it only affects Christians living in those lands. Again I have heard the sneer, 'if they wanted to avoid persecution, they could just switch to Islam, it's all fantasy anyway.' Easy to say if the only thing important to you is your comfortable lifestyle.
There is a danger that, unless these fundamentalists are stopped soon and the threat they represent is not recognised we will end up repeating the words of Pastor Martin Niemoeller -
Source: Wikipedia.First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Catholic.Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.