Amid the backlash against the Obama administration’s avoidance of linking Islam to extremist attacks, a reporter questioned the White House press secretary Wednesday as to why the White House refrained from mentioning the religion of the 21 Christian men executed by Islamic State in Libya earlier this week.
"You talked about the murder of 21 citizens. I'm just curious, why didn't you mention it was 21 Christians killed by Muslims? Is that relevant?" Fox News reporter Ed Henry asked White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest during a press conference on Wednesday.
In the White House’s original statement regarding the attacks, it condemns the murders calling the Islamic State’s actions “cowardly,” “wanton” and “unconstrained by faith, sect, or ethnicity.” Yet the White House did not mention the word Christian, instead referring to the violence as terrorism against "people of the region."
"It sure is, because the ISIL extremists that carried out this attack indicated that the reason they were killing them is not just because they were Egyptian but because they were Christian” Earnest responded. “And I think the president has been very clear that it is - You know the President talked about this, actually, in his prayer breakfast speech that he gave earlier this month - that there is a responsibility for people of all faiths to stand up and speak out when you - when individuals try to use faith and distort faith to try to justify an act of violence.”
The prayer breakfast which Ernest references was one in which Obama likened the crimes of the Islamic State to those committed hundreds of years ago by Christians during the Inquisition and the Crusades. This speech received much backlash
from both the religious and secular communities in the United States.
The White House continued to backtrack on their original statement, now recognizing that the murder was rooted in the victims' Christian faith.
"Ed, I've tried to be clear here. I can't account for that specific line in the statement. But we've been clear there that we condemn this murder” Earnest added. ”The President was clear in the Op-Ed that was published today and on a variety of occasions I think I've been pretty clear here, I think we condemn the outrageous killing - these Egyptian citizens because of their Christian faith.”
This is not the first time the Obama Administration has come under fire for failing to mention religion as the motive behind Islamic terror. The White House referred to the kosher supermarket attacks in Paris last month as “random,” rather than as anti-Semitic. sign up to our newsletter