ISIS’ barbarism in Syria and Iraq has gotten so bad that even the Vatican has signaled that military action may be necessary. And Down Under, Bishop Anba Suriel, head of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the diocese of Melbourne, denounced the terrorist group in no uncertain terms and urged Australia, and the world, to act before “such fundamentalisms infects the entire world.”
“The world watches in silence as the last Christians are expelled from Mosul, Iraq in one of the most merciless and barbaric acts of genocide we have seen in the 21st Century,” Suriel, who was born in Egypt, said in a statement last week.
“Mosul, the cradle of Christianity in Iraq since the first centuries, is now purged of its entire Christian population,” he continued. “The ruthless and purposeful savagery of the attacks by the fundamentalist Muslim terrorist organization The Islamic State (IS) formerly known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), is truly inconceivable.”
The world’s silence on the issue, he warned, sends a message of indifference to the militants and only further empowers radicalism.
“In an age where world leaders are gifted with more power and global influence than ever before, I ask why the blaring silence and apathy? The Christian Copts are being forcefully driven out of Egypt and countless churches have been destroyed. Yet there is barely any international support and protection. Our peaceful protests and appeals to the government for action have fallen on deaf ears, time and time again. We are witnessing a heinous cleansing of the entire Christian population in the Middle East by an expanding extremist Muslim terrorist group. Are we going to sit back and watch the disaster unfold, and in so doing, contribute to the crimes against humanity? The world's silence is fuelling these extremist terrorist groups.
In Australia, we are sheltered from the inconceivable cruelty that our brothers and sisters in the Middle East are experiencing. We live in comfort and have no impediments to our human rights. However, we will not be safe from the indiscriminate and unstoppable destruction of IS and its ancillary extremist Muslim terrorist groups for long. If, as a nation, we do not take a strong stance against these crimes against humanity, it is only a matter of time before such fundamentalism infects the entire world.”
It was recently reported that two Australians joined ISIS fighting in Iraq and Syria, Suriel noted in closing. The news led the bishop to ask a question Western leaders would do well to consider: “Is our apathy to terrorism creating a safe haven for the breeding of Islamic fundamentalists on our shores?”
As Dietrich Bonhoeffer famously said, “silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”
What will the world do now?