A shooting at a synagogue outside San Diego, California on 27 April which killed one person and injured three, was the latest in a string of attacks on houses of worship and the second synagogue shooting in the USA in the past 6 months.
Sri Lanka’s Easter Sunday bombings, which killed more than 250 people, included attacks on churches. March 2019 saw attacks on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, .
Unfortunately, this is not a new tactic and in the past we have seen terrorism targeting sites such as Coptic churches in Egypt and a Catholic church in the Philippines. In 2017, militants killed more than 300 people in a North Sinai mosque – the deadliest terrorist attack in Egypt’s modern history.
The synagogue shooting is also the latest in an increasing number of right wing extremist attacks, which was noted as a growing concern in the December 2018 Global Terrorism Index report.
Is the risk increasing?
The FBI reports that hate crimes have increased 17% in just one year in the USA, according to MSN News. Just last month, a man was arrested for ramming his vehicle into pedestrians and cyclists in Sunnyvale because he was targeting a family “who he thought were Muslim.”
According to CNN, however, “From 1970 to 2017, attacks at houses of worship comprised just 1.45% of all terrorist attacks worldwide, according to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) at the University of Maryland.”
CNN also notes that, “While religious believers and many others are understandably appalled by attacks on houses of worship, we should be skeptical of analysts pushing a ‘clash of civilizations’ narrative. The data does not support that idea, at least not at this time.”
Safety and security
Churches, mosques and synagogues are stepping up security though. More police protection is also being assigned, and community leaders of all faiths are encouraging dialogue to protect all houses of worship.
We stand by our philosophy of getting out there and living our lives – and that includes attending religious events and visiting religious sites when we travel, as these are some of the world’s most incredible places to visit for travellers of all faiths. It is important to be more vigilant than ever though, and to ensure you have the appropriate travel insurance in case you need to cancel or curtail* your trip.
If you’re visiting a place of worship, check which security measures are in place before you go.
Popular attractions such as St. Paul’s in London or Istanbul’s iconic Blue Mosque will have strict security procedures in place, so allow some extra time for bag searches and security checks.
The fight against hate
Communities and leaders of all faiths around the world have spoken out against attacks on religious sites, and it’s clear that most members of all faiths just want peace.
From Colombo to Sunnyvale, the perpetrators of these attacks have been extremists who are strongly condemned by the vast majority of members of the religions they claim to represent.
When visiting a religious site or a house of worship during our travels, being friendly and respectful to the locals is a simple way we can all play our part in fighting hate and fear.
*Cancellation cover applies if thee is an act of terrorism anywhere within 40 miles of your destination, up to 6 weeks prior to your departure.
Curtailment applies if there’s an act of terrorism anywhere within 40 miles of your accommodation while you’re already travelling.
Emergency temporary accommodation is also covered if there’s an attack within 1 mile of your accommodation.
These are summaries of specific elements of Safe Journey cover and are included in every Safe Journey policy from just £5.17pp (for a single trip of up to 8 days).
For full details, Ts&Cs and exclusions, please read our Policy Wording.