Coptic Bishop: We're Seeing 'Heinous Cleansing of Entire Christian Population in Middle East’

Michael W. Chapman | August 13, 2014 | 9:09pm EDT
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Coptic Orthodox Church Bishop Anba Suriel.

( – Bishop Anba Suriel, who was born in Egypt and leads the Coptic Orthodox Church in the diocese of Melbourne, Australia, denounced the “merciless and barbaric acts of genocide” against Christians in Mosul, Iraq, asked why most world leaders and the media were nearly silent about the killings, and stressed that if “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.”

“Mosul, the cradle of Christianity in Iraq since the first centuries, is now purged of its entire Christian population,” said Bishop Suriel in a statement issued last week. “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.”

“Yet most world leaders remain silent in the face of the murder of innocent children and horrific beheadings of civilians,” said the bishop. “We question why the media has not highlighted the unprecedented systematic eradication of the city's entire Christian population.”

Arrest warrants from the Australian Federal Police have been issued for Australian citizens Khaled Sharrouf, left, and Mohammed Elomar for acts of terrorism. The two reportedly posted images of themselves on social media holding severed heads. (Photo: The Telegraph.)

“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?” he said.  “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?” he said.  “The world's silence is fueling these extremist terrorist groups.”

The bishop went on to note that Christians in Australia are sheltered from the cruelty being perpetrated in the Middle East, but stressed that if the government did not act now, it would eventually have to face extremist Muslim terrorist groups.

“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,” said Bishop Suriel.

Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako, who resides in Baghdad, Iraq. (AP)

The Coptic Orthodox bishop also noted that at least two Australians  had joined IS terrorists fighting in Syria and Iraq and had posted photos of themselves holding severed heads on Twitter. “They proudly posted photos of themselves holding up the severed heads of fighters,” said Bishop Suriel.  “Is our apathy to terrorism creating a safe haven for the breeding of Islamic fundamentalists on our shores?”

In related news, Patriarch Louis Sako, head of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq, with headquarters in Baghdad, decried the treatment of Christians by IS in the town of Qaraqosh and nearby villages. “the Christians, about 100,000, horrified and panicked, fled their villages and houses with nothing but the clothes on their back,” he said, as reported by Catholic News Service.

The scene was “an exodus, a real ‘via cruces,’” or Way of the Cross, he said. “Christians are walking on foot in Iraq’s searing summer heat. They are facing a human catastrophe and risk a real genocide. They need water, food shelter.”

The Islamic jihadists are seeking “to impose their rule and terror,” said the patriarch. “There is a need of international support and a professional, well-equipped army. The situation is going from bad to worse.”

In an Aug. 13 statement, Patriarch Sako said the United States, "due to their prior involvement in Iraq, the European Union, and the league of Arab countries have the responsibility to act quickly for a solution."

"They must clear the Nineveh plain from all the elements of Jihadist Warriors and help those displaced families return to their ancestral villages," said Patriarch Sako. "If the situation does not change, the whole world should take the responsibility of a slow genocide of a genuine and entire component of the Iraqi Society and of losing its heritage and age old culture. ISIS tries to erase all traces!"

The letter was sent "with the full agreement of the bishops of Mosul from all churches" and signed by Chaldean Patriarch Sako.

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