State Department spokesman John Kirby refused to confirm “a hundred percent” on Monday what the rest of the world had already figured out: The suicide bombers in Lahore, Pakistan, on Sunday had specifically targeted Christians celebrating Easter. After an initial State Department statement neglected to mention the fact that Christians were targeted, Kirby did acknowledge yesterday that “that certainly appears to have been the case.”
The devastating blast killed more than 70 Pakistanis, 29 of them children, leaving more than 300 wounded.
Separately, at a White House press briefing yesterday, Press Secretary Josh Earnest did acknowledge that Christians were the intended targets of the bombing, but he stressed that most of the victims were Muslims.
Kirby told reporters that he did not have “the fidelity of information to confirm overtly” what the terrorists responsible for the bombing have already admitted.
Ahsanullah Ahsan, a spokesman for Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, the breakaway Taliban faction claiming responsibility for the attacks, told the Associated Press on Sunday that the suicide bomber “deliberately targeted the Christian community celebrating Easter.” He also said the attack was meant to protest Pakistan’s military operation in the tribal regions.
Referring to the State Department’s statement condemning the attack, which conspicuously contained no reference to the targeting of Christians, AP reporter Matt Lee asked, “There’s been some commentary about why you guys didn’t mention either the Easter connection or the Christian connection in your condemnatory statements over the weekend and again today. Do you believe the claim of responsibility that Christians were targeted and are targets?”
“We have no indications that their claims of responsibility are false, though I can’t sit here and confirm it a hundred percent,” Kirby said. “Therefore I have no indications that their, the motivation that they claim was the reason is also false, but this is all going to be investigated by Pakistanis.”
Kirby also said that his failure to mention that the attack was specifically targeted against Christians on Easter Sunday in the State Department’s condemnatory statement “was as much a fact, or as much an indication of the fact that it had just happened and we didn’t know that much about the attack at the outset.”
“Is that your understanding now, though?” said Lee. “Do you believe that it was?”Kirby replied, “We have no reason to doubt the veracity of their claims that this was aimed at Christians on Easter Sunday. But again I’m not also in a position, I just, we don’t have the fidelity of information to actually, you know, confirm overtly that that was in fact the case.”
“Clearly, that certainly appears to have been the case and we have no reason to doubt their claims,” said Kirby.
Josh Earnest meanwhile allowed that Christians celebrating Easter were the intended targets of the terrorists, but was also careful to note that “the majority of the victims were actually Muslims.” The attack took place at a park that is a popular spot in the heart of Lahore for people of all faiths.
Although Pakistani authorities claim more Muslims were killed and injured in the attack than Christians, the fact remains that Christians were the ones targeted, and it appears that the Obama administration has been trying to downplay that.
This administration has a long history of suppressing talk of Muslim persecutions and atrocities against Christians.
John L. Allen, author of the 2013 bestseller The Global War on Christians and associate editor of Crux Catholic journal, argues that the reason for this is “religion is undervalued” throughout the Obama-Kerry State Department.
In an article in Crux last summer, Allen blasted Sec. of State John Kerry and the State Department for discounting Christian persecution in its 2014 Human Rights report.
The document cites only one instance of a Christian suffering discrimination, involving a man charged under anti-blasphemy laws for “liking” a Facebook page critical of Islam. Yet Christians are the largest and most embattled minority in Egypt, forming 10 percent of a population of 83 million, and any account of the human rights situation that fails to feature their hardships is seriously incomplete.
In general, religion is undervalued throughout the State Department report. It lists seven categories of human rights problems, treating religious freedom as a mere sub-heading under “respect for civil liberties.”
Commenting on the piece, Robert Spencer of Jihad Watch added:
The Obama-Kerry State Department does not merely analyze the data in a secular manner in order to purge religious references or motivations, it actually leaves out of its reporting numerous high-profile, independently-verified instances of religiously-motivated persecution of Christians by Muslims. This in effect makes the Obama administration “accessories after the fact” to the mushrooming genocide committed by Muslims against Christians.
This is the Obama administration’s logic carried to yet another deplorable conclusion: If you are determined to not acknowledge the religious motivations of Islamic jihadist groups, then you likewise have to downplay Muslim persecution of Christians.
It took until March 18 of this year, and only after intense pressure from Congress, for the State Department to finally recognize ISIS’ genocide of Christians, Yazidis, and Shia Muslims in the Middle East.