Italian police have arrested 15 Muslim refugees after they murdered 12 Christians in their boat as they all fled Libya. The story of the murders broke yesterday afternoon, and CNN’s Ben Wederman provides the follow-up. Ten others rescued in another set of boats were also arrested for human trafficking:
Muslims who were among migrants trying to get from Libya to Italy in a boat this week threw 12 fellow passengers overboard — killing them — because the 12 were Christians, Italian police said Thursday.
Italian authorities have arrested 15 people on suspicion of murdering the Christians at sea, police in Palermo, Sicily, said.
The original group of 105 people left Libya on Tuesday in a rubber boat. Sometime during the trip north across the Mediterranean Sea, the alleged assailants — Muslims from the Ivory Coast, Mali and Senegal — threw the 12 overboard, police said.
They would have killed more, but the rest of the refugees linked themselves together to prevent it:
Other people on the voyage told police that they themselves were spared “because they strongly opposed the drowning attempt and formed a human chain,” Palermo police said.
The irony here, of course, is that the refugees only had one possible destination — Italy, a very Christian country. No other country has put as many resources into humanitarian efforts for North African refugees, and this won’t encourage many others to start. Where exactly did these murderers think they were going to land, anyway? Raqqa? Tehran? One has to wonder why these cowards got in the boats in the first place. Libya provides all sorts of havens now for those who want to kill Christians.
This may also force Italy to consider its policy in the Mediterranean as well. The sheer volume of refugees alone has already taxed its economic resources, but the Italians have a great deal of sympathy for those forced to flee because of terrorism and intolerance. If the intolerant are hitching rides, and indeed murdering Christians on the way to Italy, then they have to wonder how many more like them have already entered, and how many more may be on the way. Wederman notes at the end of this report that Italians are already questioning just how much more they can do, and this may have them wondering whether they have a lot more to do on internal security now as well.
If the Italians awaken to this threat, they’ll be a little ahead of the now-deceased editor of Charlie Hebdo. The Washington Post’s Daniela Deane reports that Stephane Charbonnier had just finished writing a short book two days before Islamists massacred “Charb” and several of his staff in which he argued that Islamaphobia was a form of racism, and that the danger from Islamists was no different than that from “Catholic fascists.” Charbonnier accused journalists and politicians of exploiting Islamists for their own ends:
In an eerily prescient reference, Charbonnier writes in the book that “one day, just for laughs, I should publish all the threat letters that I received at Charlie Hebdo from Catholic fascists and Muslim fascists” alike. Charbonnier received death threats after Charlie Hebdo first published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in 2006.
In his book, which contains no cartoon caricatures, Charbonnier criticizes people who demonize Muslims.
“If one day all Muslims in France converted to Catholicism … these foreigners or French of foreign origin would still be seen as responsible for all ills,” he wrote.
Charbonnier accused the media of helping to popularize the term “Islamophobia,” saying that “any scandal that contains the word Islam in its title sells. A terrorist is scary, but if you add that he’s an Islamist, everyone wets themselves,” he wrote.
That’s a little incoherent, although to be fair we are not seeing the full context of the remarks. The term “Islamophobia” is primarily used to accuse people of racism, not to indulge in it, although Charbonnier notes that the double standard employed by such critics also qualifies as a kind of racism. The media that sell the word “Islamophobia” do so in order to delegitimize criticism of Islamists, not to participate in it. And at any rate, it’s worth noting that the so-called “Catholic fascists” didn’t participate in any actual attacks, while Charlie Hebdo had suffered two from Islamists. Charbonnier appeared committed to his state of denial until the very end.