Bishop Suriel on the Attacks on the Coptic Orthodox in Egypt [VIDEO]

Outstanding! A Coptic Orthodox Bishop calls on all Christians everywhere to protest the injustice of Muslim persecution of Christians worldwide.


  1. Geo Michalopulos :

    What eloquence! What courage! These words stand in stark contrast to the usual feckless pabulum that comes out of the Phanar and its dependencies. There simply is no comparison.

  2. It’s time to end this semantic schism.

  3. Scott Pennington :

    They don’t understand “protests”. They understand Charles Martel.

    I’m actually tired of the whining. I’m tired of Christians in Arab or Muslim dominated lands calling upon us in the Western world to alleviate the suffering imposed upon them by Muslims.

    Christianity really needs to wake up with respect to tactics. Fussing and moaning at these countries doesn’t do any good. They understand violence and little else and if you want to change their behavior you have to hurt them, physically, badly. It is not one iota more complicated than that. I know that the Crusades are a touchy subject among some Orthodox, however, the problem is a lack of fear. There is a thin line between fear and respect, it’s probably perforated and it may be imaginary. You destroy some large portion of, for example, the Sudanese military and/or its infrastructure and they will pay attention. You swear to them that you will do it again and again until they relent, turning a deaf ear and a blind eye to collateral damage, and they will get the message, “Don’t persecute Christians or will will destroy you, literally, soon.” This is precisely where the Old Testament attitude is most needed.

  4. I agree 100% with Scott on this. We are dealing with a disturbing ideology that will never see non-Muslims as equals. I would add, however, that a united front is needed to make any and all financial support to Islamic countries contingent on how they treat non-Muslims. Decisive action must be the order of the day.

  5. Geo Michalopulos :

    Maxim, I too agree with Scott. This nonsense about the Crusades is just that, bleeding heart nonsense. To the extent that we Orthodox have picked up on it it’s only because some of our misguided leaders wanted to get on the victimology bandwagon. The Fourth Crusade was a travesty but it was brought on us by the secular Byzantine leaders who tried to use the Crusaders for their own purposes and then double-crossed them. The ensuing carnage was as much our fault as the Fall of Vietnam was due to America’s duplicity.

  6. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    Careful George. Like Nick said, Scott needs to explains what he means. The tone of it strikes me as uncomfortably close to neo-con nation building or liberal promiscuity like Clinton’s bombing of Serbia. I’m not sure if Scott means this though and I’ll wait for him to clarify.

  7. Scott Pennington :

    To all,

    To clarify: I understand the anger many Orthodox feel regarding the Crusades. It does tend to work against Orthodox support for military operations in the Islamic world, however. That was the point of my passing remark about them.

    Charles Martel (Martel means “hammer”) stopped the advance of Muslim armies in France after they had overrun Spain. Invoking him was a way of saying that I don’t believe that negotiation, sanctions, etc. will stop the current Islamic Revival’s onslaught against Christians in Muslim lands or their attempts to, effectively, colonize Western and Central Europe.

    We end up going out of our way to make excuses why we don’t take military action against goverments (like Egypt, Palestine, Iraq, Sudan, etc.) who allow these atrocities to occur by turning a blind eye. It is not as if they are democratic countries. They can control their people. They choose to allow the modern equivalent of pogroms to take place, this time against Christians. Now, of course, the Christians in these countries generally do not resist persecution with violence of their own. Perhaps that is to be commended. However, in order to impose order onto chaos, we should pressure these countries not with sanctions or diplomacy (that, as we can see, is having precious little effect on Iran), but with outright military attack. Sanctions do not work very well. Goods have a way of finding their way in indirectly.

    I do not advocate nation building anywhere in the Middle East. It is now and always has been a fool’s errand. To replace the Taliban or Saddam Hussein is perhaps noble and worth the American lives lost. Building, or rebuilding, these countries is not worth one American life. Put in someone we can do business with, pull the troops back to bases, arm the new power and let them take control.

    But in the case of governments allowing the killing and torment of Christians, attack them. At some point, even if they’re willing to sacrifice the lives of their soldiers, the time will come when they realize that they are open to conquest from neighboring countries due to their diminished military power. Long before that though, I would guess that they would have their secret police round up anyone they know might be considering such actions toward Christians, or with an ideology that encourages it. They would also let it be known that anyone who dares to conduct or endorse or fund such attacks will not enjoy the rest of their shortened lives. It would be a matter of governmental self preservation.

    Moreover, if a United States administration could actually gain and maintain public support for such a permanent change in strategy, we would very quickly gain the respect/fear, but certainly not love, of the Muslim world. After all, why should you respect someone who lets you treat them like a doormat? When it becomes clear that we are capable and willing to attack, repeatedly, without mercy, until the maltreatment of Christians stops, and that we are willing to go so far as to destroy the entire military of an offending country if need be and thus allow anyone who wants the territory to come in and take it over, then they will realize they cannot win. Then we will have respect and the peace that comes with it. It is no excuse whatsoever to say that we would thereby harm and/or kill innocent people. Yes we would. However, if you are going to let your enemy hide behind the public and the government while they attack you, you will lose. There is a reason they say that war is hell. And it is that same reason which militates in favor of making the war as decisive and quick as possible so that the ensuing peace will avoid anymore carnage, either on our side (i.e., the Christian side) or theirs.

    During the Iranian hostage crisis, the Muslim world learned much about us. We should have bombed their military and infrastructure back into the stoneage, regardless of whether the hostages lived or were executed by the regime, to send a message that this type of behavior brings no reward whatsoever, only destruction. You avoid a long string of attacks and carnage by making a shocking example early on. Ancient Rome nipped the hostage taking in the bud by marching on the offending power, killing their emissaries, razing their city and spreading lime to prevent agriculture in the future. One such act has ripples that echo for centuries.

    The Soviets began to have a problem with hijacking like we did in the 1980’s. I read about their solution in an issue of Foreign Affairs many years ago. A Soviet plane was hijacked by Islamic militants. The Soviets stormed the plane. I don’t know how many of the passengers survived but they managed to capture at least one or two terrorists. They extracted the name of their employer from them. Then they went to his village and found his closest male relative (a brother, I think). I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say, no more hijackings.

    Serbia was a very different situation. Basically, we intervened against people who in all probability were not doing anything worse than any of the other actors in the area. They just didn’t have very effective propaganda machines in place to get their side out. I’m not talking about intervention to stop ethnic warfare which arose over territorial disputes created by the vacuum resulting from the collapse of Communism. I’m talking about punishing countries who allow their people to make killing and harassing Christians a spectator sport.

    Now, neither Obama nor the next Republican President will do what I’m suggesting. It hasn’t gotten bad enough yet to suit them.

    But it will, and in order to avoid it getting worse, that is what I would do. It would get very nasty in the short term, but in the end it would result in a new understanding. There was an interesting movie starring Denzel Washington back in 1999 or 2000 called The Seige. I don’t really agree with the message behind the movie, but the CIA officer (Annette Benning) had one of the best lines, “The most committed wins.” As of today, we are certainly not the most committed.

    • Geo Michalopulos :

      Scott, I agree with you. Most Arab/Islamic governments allow terrorism to function so long as it’s directed outwards. In this they’re like the corrupt Mexican government which views illegal immigration as a way of venting frustration. I say pound ’em and pound ’em hard once or twice (in the case of Mexico build a wall) and they’ll get the picture and start doing what is necessary to reform their own decrepit societies.

    • alexis banias :


      I appreciate your no-nonsense militant stance. Peaceniks like to use the adage, “turn the other cheek.” However, at times to me it seems as if Christ’s commandment is used as a guise for nothing more than mere cowardice. There is such a thing as virtuous war, as explained in the excellent book, “The Virtue of War,” by Cole and Webster and can be found on the Regina Orthodox Press website – yes – Franky Schaeffer’s company. Scott, if you get the chance (if you haven’t already), read the book, and I would encourage the other bloggers and Orthodox clergy to do so as well. I think you need to add to your list the Raid on Entebbe by Yoni Netanyahu and his commando unit as well as the Massad’s covert operations against the terrorists who had killed the Israeli olympians in 1972 Munich. I know, “vengeance is mine saith the Lord;” however, to those who are enjoying this country’s freedoms, I say the American Revolution, the Civil War, and WWII were not fought and won by “turning the other cheek.” This great nation’s forefathers pledged their lives, fortunes, and honor.

      • Scott Pennington :


        In a debate regarding Old Testament violence in another post here, I mentioned the book, The Virtue of War. Part of my argument in that thread was that Christ’s words about turning the other cheek were a) not demanding pacifism, just patience and b) directed toward conduct within a civil society, not warfare between societies.

        Actually, Fr. Webster had previously been a quasi-pacifistic type who wrote books on the validity of Orthodox pacifism. 9/11 changed his mind. I don’t know if he still feels the same way. However, what he tries to do is make a case for “justifiable war” within Orthodox teaching which roughly equates to Western “just war” theory. I think he misses a major point though: Augustine’s Just War theory was not geared to enable Christians to engage in warfare. They were already doing that. It was geared to restrain Christians within a framework of only waging war for right causes and by right methods. An absence of Just War theory in Orthodoxy doesn’t mean Orthodox can’t or shouldn’t (under some circumstances) engage in warfare. It means we are not under the constraints of Western Just War theory.

    • Scott,

      Great analysis. And you’re probably 100% correct.

      As someone who voted for Reagan for president 3 times (as a write-in in 1976, 1980 and 1984), I always took particular pleasure in the fact that the Iranians were so scared of Reagan that they released those hostages at 12:01 on RR’s inauguration date. While I’m sure they saw it as a way to humiliate Carter, the bottom line was they they were afraid of what Reagan would do to them…perhaps along the lines of your prescription.

      Aside from that, it’s no secret that, historically speaking, being prepared for war is the best way to have peace. Chamberlain’s actions encouraged Hitler, just as the lack of a response following the Armenian genocide (by the Ottomans) probably caused the Holocaust. Even Reagan wasn’t perfect…his hesitation in Beirut may have encouraged Al Qaeda’s later actions.

      But, as you said, neither side, Republicans nor Democrats, have the stomach for the solution you prescribe. Perhaps that is impossible in a day of CNN. Too bad.

      Best Regards

    • Scott,

      The one huge and fearsome flaw in the plan you suggest is this: If attacked for killing Christians as easily as they might see things your way, just as easily they might double down and wipe out the Christian minorities double quick on the basis that Christians from outside are attacking them — so their theory goes, getting rid of the thing motivating the external attacks would also end the external attacks.

      I think the Russians had it right in targeting the personal staff and supporters of the murderous policy. I suspect the drones we send into Pakistan and elsewhere have that effect. Do ethnic murder? Expect to live in a hole for a while then die. Message sent. It’s a blunt instrument to be sure, but as it is an attempt to narrow the target to those with the greater responsibility it must be preferred among the limited alternatives.

      How hard it is when a culture that values life and its quality must deal with those willing to limit lifes’ value to their own personal circle first, those willing to help them second, and everything else is easily spent. I still remember the news stories about one of the sides while getting the worse of it sending teens to fight in the front lines during the Iran-Iraq war.

      • Scott Pennington :

        The problem, Harry, is that if we are deterred by what they might do to other Christians, then they get to keep on doing it. In essence, we defeat ourselves through fear. If a country’s leadership, say Sudan for example, were convinced that unless the attacks on Christians ceased (and especially if they were stepped up) that we would relentlessly proceed to destroy the only organization which keeps them in power, their military, they would relent. The first instance might result in a brief increase in violence against Christians. But when they realized that we can just keep making more and dropping more bombs until we get what we want or there is no more government, survival instincts will kick in. In the end, if we don’t force them to stop, they will continue. I don’t think we really need to argue about that.

        Your point is well taken, though. It would probably be hard for any other state in the world to believe we would go through with it at first. That’s because we’ve behaved cowardly for far too long. I see no reason to continue that policy.

        Once I recall, during the eighties I believe, we were treated to a long protracted televised hostage situation when terrorists seized a plane full of people. They were actually negotiating about refueling and letting them fly to another country. I remarked that if they could not be persuaded to surrender, we should storm the plane. My aunt said, “How would you feel if your mother was on that plane?” I replied, “I hope I would have the courage to say the same thing because there will doubtless be many mothers on the next plane hijacked if these vermin are rewarded.”

        • Scott,

          What do you think about targeting the leadership and not the leadership’s infrastructure when the charge against them is ethnic/religious murder within their own borders?

          Lots of the people who are pressed into service by the ‘strongmen’ in those situations fear serious reprisal if they decline. While you suggest targeting the subordinates / minions / spear-carriers I wonder whether targeting the policy maintainers wouldn’t be a better choice. I notice that’s what the Russians did in the hijacking instance you favored– went after the top tier of the hijacker’s immediate world.

          This raises the stakes in a way you appear to favor, while at the same time reducing death among those who are less responsible. This is also current policy such as in Pakistan when the drones from nobody knows for sure where blow up the entrance to the cave, the safe house, whatnot. It’s crude but results in less death than sending in the troops, and perhaps its more effective if the policies are unpopular save for the leadership’s fanaticism.

          I really like Osama Ben Laden having to lurk in caves, Saddam hiding in a hole until caught.

          • Scott Pennington :


            I personally would prefer the same people in charge to behave differently out of a sense of apprehension at what we might do next. The point of the whole exercise is that we want someone in power who fears what we might do next. Changing the leadership by decapitating the government seems to me like an unnecessary step. Also, if the next leader gets out of line, we’ll find ourselves in the business of periodically bombing capitols. Unless we get in the job of “putting our own sob in power”, it may be better to give them an attitude adjustment than decapitate the government. The earliest strikes against the military would not cause the same type of civil chaos that bombing a presidential palace and killing the ruler would. However, at some point that might be necessary. If it is, then we would want to walk a fine line in being perceived to allow, but not place, the next thug in charge. Otherwise, given the press in these countries, the successor will be seen as a puppet.

            Intimidation through diminishing their power to defend themselves and rule seems like a better strategy to me. I do admit that it causes considerable “innocent” casualties – – military personnel. Ideally we will only have to announce the policy and do it once or twice, people then would take it seriously and avoid it. Unfortunately, in the world, the price of being taken seriously can be to spill a conspicuous amount of blood. I’d rather it be the military than the general public since it would be more effective at influencing the government on the basis of self-preservation and it is more merciful than attacking civilian population centers. But, in the end, there’s no clean answer because, as I remarked before, overwhelming force is the only thing many of these leaders understand. When we invaded Afghanistan (or Iraq, I forget which one precipitated it), you will recall, Qaddhafi suddenly had a change of heart regarding cooperation in anti-terrorist activities. Bark is not relevant to them. Tongue wagging is a form of art in their culture and they see it as blustering bravado. You have to bite.

          • I think your position presumes a minimal manner of rationality in leadership not in evidence in places that do internal institutionally tacitly endorsed murder. This is the assumption requried to support your plan is that killing those who subordinate themselves to such leadership would be on balance saving more lives. I do not think that assumption is justified. Were the reason for the conflict to be mostly NOT about institutionally endorsed internal murder, then I think your plan has good support.

          • Scott Pennington :


            The problem in these regimes isn’t so much a lack of rationality as a lack of morallity. My idea requires no more rationality on the part of these governments than that of a squirrel running away from a dog. If it’s gonna eat you, you avoid it.

            If we strike the only force that keeps them in power, in escalating amounts of damage, at some point the squirrel will take off. It doesn’t want to die. They may or may not like Christians, but they think they need to placate Islamists in order to stay in power. They do not see us as an existential threat. These regimes are more afraid of Islamists than they are of us. It’s that simple.

            But we can change that.

        • Geo Michalopulos :

          Scott, I completely agree with you. Yes, there is such a thing as collateral damage, but raining hellfire on Islamist population centers will cause them to recalculate their ideology.

          There’s proof of this: in Lebanon in the 1860s (I believe), the Druze were slaughtering Christians left and right. Napoleon III sent in the Foreign Legion and thanks to “the Western Way of War” (I love Victor Davis Hanson), he was able to stop it. Result? The Maronites became bolder and they’ve never been bothered since, by the Druze or anybody else for that matter. Did collateral damage occur? Undoubtedly some Christians were killed. But the payoff for the Maronites has been well worth it.

          Let’s be honest: Muslims live in tribally-dominated societies. There’s a lot of in-breeding going on. That’s the normal state of affairs for mankind. They don’t understand concepts like nation-states or observe rules of warfare. It’s kill or be killed. Ethnocide is normal –even desirable–in this Darwinist mindset because if you don’t wipe out the enemy tribe/clan, then their sons will grow up and kill you.

          So how did the Christians get out of this trap? The theological reason is that because we operate under grace. Sociologically however Christianity matured under Greco-Roman concepts of nationhood and rule of law which the Church took over and sanctioned. Additionally the Church placed a premium on continence (i.e. sexual restraint). Monogamy was the order of the day. Also you couldn’t just marry anyone, the concept of consanguinity came into play (i.e. no cousin-marriage). This had the beneficial effect of breaking down the clannishness/tribalism found in the barbarian tribes. In France for example, the Church’s prohibition extended even to sixth cousins! In the East, the canonical stricture was against first cousins marrying. (I was always told that it included second cousins as well.)

          Now let’s look at the various Islamic societies, particularly the Semitic ones: usually a man is given his first cousin as his first wife. Or at least he has the right of first refusal. In addition, if he’s wealthy enough, he can take additional wives and as many concubines as he wants. This is normal within a Darwinian ethos btw (I’m not being judgmental, just laying out the facts). Where does this leave other, younger men? In permanent bachelorhood –rogue males. It is rogue males in most mammalian species that cause most of the mayhem.

          Anyway, I could go on and on, but I gotta get ready for work

  8. Memo to 79th Street and the Archons. Bishop Suriel would make an excellent recipient of the Athenagoras Human Rights Award. His honoring would also help restore credibility to this award which has been tarnished by recipients like partial-birth abortion advocate Paul Sarbanes. Wouldn’t it be great if the Archons and 79th Street who just held an international conference on religious freedom would lend their support to the persecuted Christians of Eqypt whose freedom is at risk. Put your money where your mission is………

    Also, Is there any reason why all the bishops of the newly formed assembly cannot issue a statement signed by all of America’s bishops supporting the Copts in Egypt?

    • Geo Michalopulos :

      Andrew, to ask this question is to answer it. Instead, the brain trust that runs the Archons is probably looking for some secularist/ecumenist of no special merit to bestow their increasingly meaningless prize.

    • Andrew,

      I just wanted to let you know what a GREAT idea this is:

      Also, Is there any reason why all the bishops of the newly formed assembly cannot issue a statement signed by all of America’s bishops supporting the Copts in Egypt?

      I just served it up over on our Orthodox Episcopal Assembly FB site at

      If the EA can’t do something as simple as this…what’s the point?

      Anyway…just wanted to say “thanks” for the idea.

      Best Regards

  9. Michael Bauman :

    Did anyone else see the report that this particular bit of craziness was triggered by two Coptic clergy wives who wanted to get away from their abusive husbands? Since divorce is not allowed, they considered becoming Muslim in order to invalidate the marriages. When they backed away the situation escalated beyond control.

  10. I am waiting to see what happens in the aftermath.

    Supposedly the non-Islamist Muslim majority sided with the Copts this time, attending Christmas services and vigils outside to act as human shields. Supposedly the flag of the 1919 Revolution, which features a Crescent and a Cross (to show that both Muslims and Christians supported independence)
    has become popular.

    I can’t recall the Muslims taking sides like this before, so I wonder could it mean anything.

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