Attack in Nice
Last Thursday night, July 14, a 19-ton truck drove for over a mile through crowds in Nice, France, gathered for Bastille Day fireworks displays. At least 84 people were killed, and 303 were wounded. The truck driver, a 31-year-old man who moved from Tunisia to France in 2005, exchanged gunfire with police before he was killed. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, but there is no evidence that the man was directly tied to any terrorist group.The French Parliament passed legislation yesterday giving authorities extra powers to search, seize, and place people on house arrest. The legislation also makes it easier to temporarily close places of worship suspected of encouraging extremism. Over one-third of the individuals killed in the attack were Muslim.
God, for all who are victimized by the violence of religious extremism, we lift our prayers. We pray for the families and communities so grieved by this incident, and for global leaders who are faced with the challenge of balancing the values of security and liberty. We pray for an end to terrorism, Lord.
Baton Rouge and Miami Shootings
On Sunday, July 17, a 29-year-old black man in Baton Rouge, La., shot and killed two police officers, Montrell Jackson and Matthew Gerald, and a sheriff's deputy, Brad Garafola, and wounded three other law enforcement officers. The man shooting at the officers was killed during the attack. He was a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. In Miami, Fla., on Monday a police officer shot and wounded an unarmed black man, Charles Kinsey, a therapist in a group home who was attempting to calm down an autistic patient in the street. It appears that Kinsey followed directions and had laid down in the street with his hands up when he was shot. He is now recovering in a hospital, and the police officer is on administrative leave.
For the grieving families of the officers killed, Lord, we lift our prayers. We pray that communities might honor and support the many police officers who do their jobs with dignity and excellence, and whose sacrificial service is crucial to the safety and well-being of society. We pray for protection for police officers who have become targets. We pray too for African Americans who have for so long been targets of racialized violence in the U.S., too often at the hands of police officers. May there be honest discussion about real solutions to the racism that has long been deadly in the U.S.
Turkey Attempted Coup
Last Friday, July 15, Turkey’s military attempted a coup against the government while President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was out of town. The coup failed when President Erdogan asked progovernment supporters to resist the coup. Hundreds of people were killed during the struggle. The military has been in disagreement with proposed reforms to give the president more power and to create an Islamic government. In the aftermath of the coup, the Turkish government has arrested over 9,000 Turks and members of the military, and tens of thousands of judges, police officers, educators, and university professors have been fired. President Erdogan is considering reinstating the death penalty. If that occurs, the European Union (EU) stated, Turkey’s bid for membership in the EU will no longer be considered. Turkey neighbors Syria and has long been seen as a necessary source of stability in the region. President Erdogan invoked emergency powers yesterday and is demanding that the U.S. extradite cleric Fethullah Gulen, who the President thinks is behind the coup.
For this increasingly volatile situation in Turkey, we pray. Lord, protect vulnerable people from abuses of their human rights, which appear to be so likely in this scenario. Protect those who stand for justice; guard those who are peacemakers; and bring wisdom to those in positions of power.
U.S. Airstrikes in Syria
On Tuesday, July 19, U.S. airstrikes in northern Syria may have killed at least 70 civilians, a majority of whom were women and children. The U.S. was attempting to target Islamic State militants; however, human rights activists on the ground say the militants had left town and the airfire struck houses where almost 200 people had taken shelter as airstrikes were approaching their village. Activists in the village state that most of those taking shelter were either killed or injured—those in the village have tallied the death toll to 117 but have identified only 73 of the bodies.
God, hear our lament for such horrific violence and loss of innocent life. We join with the people who are grieving, and we pray for safety and for peace. Give us strength to hold leaders accountable for these deaths, and to live lives committed to making peace in your world.