On Sunday night, White House press secretary Josh Earnest issued a statement condemning the actions of Islamic State Militants after they released a video of the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians.
The statement from the White House described the victims as “innocents” and “citizens,” but made no mention of the victims’ faith.
“The United States condemns the despicable and cowardly murder of twenty-one Egyptian citizens in Libya by ISIL-affiliated terrorists,” the statement read, offering condolence to the victims families.
The ISIS video was directly targeted at Christians, citing their faith as the reason for their death.
A caption in the video described the victims as “the people of the cross, followers of the hostile Egyptian church.”
“Safety for you crusaders is something you can only wish for,” one of the militants said in the video, as he stood with a knife in his hand. The video was titled “A Message Signed With Blood to the Nation of the Cross.”
Earnest condemned the actions as a “despicable and cowardly murder” and a “heinous act.”
“ISIL’s barbarity knows no bounds,” he reminded the world. “It is unconstrained by faith, sect, or ethnicity.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron specifically identified the victims as Christians, in a statement condemning the murders.
“I am appalled by the murder of Christians in Libya, a simply barbaric and inhumane act. My thoughts are with the families of those killed and the UK stands united with the Egyptian people during this period of mourning,” he said.
Pope Francis also strongly condemned the murders of the Coptic Christians on Monday.
“Their only words were: ‘Jesus, help me!’ They were killed simply for the fact that they were Christians,” he said. “The blood of our Christian brothers and sisters is a testimony which cries out be heard. It makes no difference whether they be Catholics, Orthodox, Copts or Protestants. They are Christians!”