The bomb that killed at least 21 Egyptian Christians on New Year’s morning was packed with sharpened metal, iron balls and razor wire. Many of those that the device didn’t rip to death will never see, walk or function properly ever again. With terrorist bombs, euphemisms such as “wounded” and “traumatized” are hideously misplaced. These are not, however, the only banalities being tossed around when this latest attack is discussed. Words like “rare,” “surprise,” and “extremist” seem similarly absurd to those who know anything about the plight of Christians in large chunks of the Muslim world. Remember, more than 50 Iraqi Catholics were murdered in November; on Christmas Day in the southern Philippines on a Muslim-dominated island a church was bombed and parishioners hurt; and in Pakistan just weeks ago a 45-year-old Christian mother of five, Asia Bibi, was sentenced to death for “defaming the Prophet.” Not bad for a little over a month!

It has all become so painfully routine as to appear almost predictable. In Pakistan, churches have been destroyed, Christians lynched, children forcibly converted. Catholics and Anglicans have been denied jobs, government support, housing and the most basic human rights. In Egypt, many of the eight million Christians face daily harassment in a country of 70 million Muslims, with periodic violence — often deadly — and police indifference, and even support, for mob attacks. One particularly sinister aspect to the Egyptian mass persecution is the difficulty Christians now face in obtaining exit visas, conjuring up dark echoes of previous campaign against German and Soviet Jews.

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