Thursday, November 27, 2014, His Eminence Metropolitan Sotirios participated in the Committee’s study of Canada's Response to the Violence, Religious Persecution and Dislocation Caused by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
During his statement, His Eminence spoke about the dangers and harm of religious-inspired terrorism and the importance for all governments – especially governments from predominately Muslim countries – to respect and promote human dignity, rights and freedom. He stressed the need to reform the teachers and factories that produce terrorists, making them factories of peace-makers. Metropolitan Sotirios also urged governments to defend and protect innocent people around the world who suffer at the hands of Islamic terrorists, including many Christian communities who are systematically targeted, persecuted and killed.
His Eminence expresses his gratitude to the Committee Chair, MP Dean Allison, and to all Honourable Members of the Committee, and wishes them well in their efforts to study the evil acts perpetrated by the Islamic State.
The Speaking Notes of Metropolitan Sotirios follow:
Did the Crusades profit humanity and advance Christianity?
Did the Inquisition profit humanity and advance Christianity?
The truth is these historical events harmed Christianity immensely including the sacking of Constantinople and devastation to the Byzantine Empire during the Fourth Crusade.
The truth is these historical events deviated from authentic Christianity and the teachings of Jesus Christ – the true Messiah, the only Redeemer and Saviour of the world, the only true God.
These sinful acts were recognized and stopped; glory be to God!
Evil acts done in the name of religion only serve to hurt and diminish that religion.
Are these experiences applicable today? Are there lessons that we can learn from them?
How can we as Canadians join together with peace-loving people around the globe to combat the self-righteous fanaticism that tragically pervades so many parts of the planet?
Is it not true that Christianity, hand-and-hand with ancient Greek democracy, established peace-loving and prosperous societies, namely, Western democratic countries?
How would peace-loving people have reasoned, for example, with the Canadian-born jihadist who said before his death this year, “We kill and pray to be killed to join Allah in paradise.”
Is it not the mentality of terrorists to fiercely, yet incorrectly, believe that they are right and we are wrong; that they are true believers and we unbelievers, infidels?
Can we describe the acts of al-Qaeda, al-Shabab, Boko Haram and the Islamic State – the jihadist in general – without using words like “pure evil”?
How do we address the practice, for example, in Egypt, where it is illegal for Muslims to convert to Christianity and where Christian girls are forcibly converted to Islam, or in Pakistan, where blasphemy laws are abused to persecute and kill Christians?
How do we address the horrific violations against the dignity and freedom of men, women and especially children being carried out by the Islamic State?
According to a November 2014 United Nations report, Rule of Terror: Living under ISIS in Syria, “ISIS has executed women, as well as men, for unapproved contact with the opposite sex [and] ISIS prioritises children as a vehicle for ensuring long-term loyalty, adherence to their ideology and a cadre of devoted fighters that will see violence as a way of life.”
These and so many other associated actions are so heinous that governments, including Canada’s, must defend and protect their citizens from all such enemies, as well as defend and protect innocent people around the world who suffer at the hands of Islamic terrorists.
Is it reasonable to believe that one of the greatest threats in our world – to our way of life, to our freedom and to all people – is not Islamic-based extremism?
How do we respond to a self-righteous fanatical who systematically and without regard slaughters Christians – as well as different followers of Islam – in the name of “God”?
How do we respond to the perverted notion that terrorists (jihadists) are innocent or, put differently, not responsible for their actions, because they are only doing the will of “God”?
These individuals are misguided and require rehabilitation.
We should note that not all terrorists are Muslims; and, while some are self-radicalized, are not most Muslim terrorists led astray by fanatic teachers in their factories?
As a consequence, should not every effort be made to reform the teachers and their factories that produce terrorists, to produce peace-makers?
If the focus is only on killing terrorists, we know from experience that they will become like Lernaean Hydra from Greek mythology.
We know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure; we also know that prevention is less expensive than cure – both in human and financial terms.
Is it not of utmost importance that all governments, but especially governments from predominately Muslim countries, sponsor and promote the observance of proper moral principles among their citizenry including respect for human rights and freedom?
Canada’s response to the Islamic State, like all governments but especially governments from predominately Muslim countries, should focus on reforming the factories that produce terrorists (jihadists) and that sponsor and promote radicalization.
Alone, however, governments will not be able to succeed; they need to engage both the leaders and followers of Islam.
It is the duty of all governments and all people of good faith with proper moral principles to defend the innocent from Islamic terrorists (jihadists) and to work to reform the factories that produce terrorists, making them factories of peace-makers.
Only this way will we be able to untie the Gordian Knot of Islamic extremism, perpetrated by the Islamic State and other similar terrorist organizations.
From the Office of Holy Metropolis
November 18, 2014