Passengers embrace each other Wednesday at the entrance to Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport following their evacuation after a blast. -Photo: Emrah Gure

Passengers embrace each other Wednesday at the entrance to Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport following their evacuation after a blast. -Photo: Emrah Gure

“A heinous attack on innocent lives.” -Religious Leaders Denounce Istanbul Airport Terrorist Attack

Tuesday, June 28, terrorists armed with explosive belts and automatic weapons, attacked the Istanbul Ataturk Airport, the biggest airport in Turkey and the 3rd busiest airport in Europe. The coordinated attack that lasted only 90 seconds, however, left 42 people dead and 239 injured in its wake.

According to Binali Yildirim, the Prime Minister of Turkey, ISIS carried out the attack. ISIS, however, has not claimed responsibility.

Turkish officials have strong evidence pointing to the attackers arriving via Raqqa in Syria, an ISIS stronghold. The men were originally from Russia, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan and came to Turkey a month ago. One of their passports was found in their apartment in Istanbul.

This is the fourth terrorist attack that has happened in the country this year and ISIS carried out two of them. Another incident was claimed by Kurdistan Freedom Falcons.

Faith leaders, as well as world leaders, condemned the attack.

During his Angelus address yesterday morning, Pope Francis offered his condolences and extended his prayers to the victims and their families. He asked the people gathered in St. Peter's Square to join him in silent prayer.

United Church of Christ (UCC) and Global Ministries executive for the Middle East and Europe, Peter Makari, called the terrorist attack “a heinous attack on innocent lives.” He said that the members of UCC and the Global Ministries are saddened by this act and that they deplore and condemn it. They extend their prayers to the victims and their families.

Reverend Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, the general secretary of WCC (World Council of Churches) also condemned the attack, stating that the attack was a monstrous one as it was carried out at a very busy time on one of the busiest airports in the world, to cause maximum causalities. He prays, and hopes that peace, be brought upon the region quickly to put an end to the conflicts that are fueling such odious criminal acts.

Reverend James Moos, UCC executive, Wider Church Ministries, also condemned the attack and said that long-standing injustices are triggering most of the acts of violence. Committing to non-violent responses and working together is the only way to address the root causes of conflicts. True peace is built on the foundation of justice.

Turkey is a Muslim-majority country. The terrorist attacks come at a time when the country is already struggling to deal with millions of refugees fleeing Syria.

The attack took place during the Ramadan, the Muslim holy month. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the President of Turkey, says this “shows that terrorism strikes with no regard to faith and values.” He called on world leaders to take a firm stand against terrorism.

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