WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — The White House is being criticized for its statement over the beheadings of nearly two dozen Egyptian Coptic Christians at the hands of an Islamic State of Iraq and Syria-affiliated group in Libya.

The line that critics are pointing to is referring to the Christians as only Egyptian citizens.

“The United States condemns the despicable and cowardly murder of twenty-one Egyptian citizens in Libya by ISIL-affiliated terrorists,” the statement reads. “We offer our condolences to the families of the victims and our support to the Egyptian government and people as they grieve for their fellow citizens.”

Fox News contributors George Will and Charles Krauthammer criticized the White House for not referring to the Egyptians as Christians.

“Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall in the room where the White House semanticists meet every morning and figure out how they could probably make this announcement without offending those who did it. I think the phrase they should come up with is non-Islamic randomness,” Will said on Fox News Monday. “That would explain just about everything that they have to deal with, but it does – at this point, it is beyond burlesque, its pathological, it’s clinical their inability and unwillingness to say – to accurately describe things.”

Krauthammer said the Obama administration is refusing to “acknowledge the obvious.”

“It’s sort of deconstructing any resistance with its refusal to acknowledge the obvious and the obvious is this. It’s not just Islamic radicalism anymore or Islamic terrorism, which is only a tactic. This is Islamist supremacy and in that sense, it is akin to Nazism. That was a racial supremacy, here it’s Islamic and the ideology of ISIS is clearly supremacist in the sense that anybody who is not Islamic, in their understanding, is to be either enslaved or eradicated. This is a genocidal movement. You kill Christians, you kill Jews, you kill Yazidis but you may in certain circumstances enslave them. That’s what we’re up against and we have an administration that will not even admit that there’s a religious basis underlying what’s going on,” Krauthammer stated.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins told Fox News that the White House has a difficult time saying Christian.

“ISIS made very clear in this video that this was an execution of ‘people of the cross.’ ISIS apparently has no difficulty saying ‘Christian,’ while the White House has a very difficult time,” Perkins said.

The killings raise the possibility that ISIS – which controls about a third of Syria and Iraq in a self-declared caliphate – has established a direct affiliate less than 500 miles from the southern tip of Italy. One of the militants in the video makes direct reference to that possibility, saying the group now plans to “conquer Rome.”

The militants had been holding 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians hostage for weeks, all laborers rounded up from the city of Sirte in December and January. It was not clear from the video whether all 21 hostages were killed. It was one of the first such beheading videos from an Islamic State group affiliate to come from outside the group’s core territory in Syria and Iraq.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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