Reports suggest that the trend for attacks on places of worship globally has risen dramatically in 2019. According to an Associated Press report, 2019 has witnessed attacks on synagogues, Buddhist temples, and mosques, though more and more churches have been attacked globally this year compared to previous years. Christians, Jews, Muslims, and Buddhists were attacked in their places of worship in Poway, California, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Sri Lanka, and New Zealand. Hundreds of priests and believers have been killed in the attacks.
The events of the two-week period in January 2019 clearly illustrate the extent of this dangerous trend. On January 18, a Buddhist temple in Thailand was attacked, killing two people, including an ashram. In January, an Islamic State attack on the Catholic Church in Jolo, a Muslim-dominated area in the Philippines, killed 23 people and injured more than 100. Three religious teachers were killed in a grenade attack on a nearby mosque in three days.
Armed gunmen attacked two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March, killing 51 people. Soon after Easter in April two attacks on two Catholic churches and one Protestant church in Sri Lanka literally shocked the world’s conscience. Some 260 people, including children, were killed. Exactly six days later, a woman was killed and three others, including a rabbi, were attacked in a synagogue in Poway, California. The attack comes six months after the Pittsburgh Synagogue, which killed 11 people. In October, a German synagogue was attacked.
On December 1, unidentified assailants attacked a Protestant church in Burkina Faso, West Africa, killing 14 people and injuring many others. The spread of racist extremism and racism are the main reasons for such attacks. The attackers also aim to instill fear in those who gather for worship. It is also worth noting that investigations into the attacks on places of worship have progressively cooled down and arrests have been encouraged.