On the 19th of January 2011, the Australian Coptic Movement (ACM) in conjunction with the Coptic Orthodox Church, Diocese of Sydney and Affiliated Regions held a peaceful protest in Sydney to protest the continuos persecution of Egypt’s indigenous Christians, the Copts.
Distinguished guests, notably members of both State and Federal parliament were present in order to show their support for the Coptic plight.
Those in attendance included, Senator Concetta Firravanti – Wells, the Federal Senator for NSW and who was sent as a representative on behalf of the Hon. Mr. Tony Abbott MP, the Federal Opposition leader.
Also in attendance was Greg Donnelly MLC, representing NSW Premier, Kristina Kenneally. Additionally, the Hon. Craig Kelly MP, Liberal Federal member for Hughes, the very Rev. Fred Nile MLC, president of the Christian Democratic Party and the Hon. David Clarke MLC, parliamentary secretary of the NSW Shadow Attorney – General.
The General Secretary of the National Council of Churches the Rev Tara Curlewis was also in attendance as well a wide range of clergy representing almost all Christian denominations in Australia.
The Assyrian Univeral Alliance (AUA) represented by their President Mr Hermiz Shahin was also given the opportunity to speak and he conveyed his community’s support for the plights of the Copts and he spoke of the tragic predicament faced by Iraq’s Christians. The AUA also had a petition prepared alongside the Coptic Petition and the attendees from the rally and the general Australia public were encouraged to sign both petitions.
At approximately 1.00pm and despite the wet weather, the crowd numbering several thousand then commenced a short march to the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT) at 123 Pitt Street Sydney. New South State police played a much appreciated role in closing down Pitt Street for the protest for approximately an hour. This march attracted even more people during the lunch hour, as we all marched in solidarity to DFAT, chanting slogans aimed at the Australian and Egyptian governments’ reticence on the Coptic plight.
Once we arrived at DFAT, four members from the Coptic community – three members of the clergy, very Rev. Father Tadros Simon, the Vicar – General of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Sydney, very Rev. Father Mina Dioscorous and Father Matthew Attia, as well as Mr. Peter Tadros of ACM, went up to the office and handed the documents to the representative of the Hon. Kevin Rudd MP.
After the protest had ended, members of ACM met with former Australian Prime Minister, Mr. John Howard, who expressed his concerns and sympathy regarding the situation in Egypt. He also supported Mr. Abbott’s condemnation of the attacks.
This protest saw thousands of people from all suburbs of Sydney and walks of life,attend, despite the bad weather. Copts, Assyrians, Chaldaneans, Maronites, Melkites, Catholics, Anglican and those of other denominations and faiths were some of the few who attended. Also in attendance were dignitaries from different parties and different backgrounds.
ACM would like to thank all individuals who played a major role in making this day a great success and this includes the following:
The Assyrian Universal Alliance represented by Mr Hermin Shahin
COYA Sydney represented my Mr Rouby Sidaros
St Mark’s Scouts represented by Mr Michael Rouchdie
Exodus represented by Mrs Debbie Armanios
The Coptic Youth of Sydney and all individuals who assisted in the organization of this event
The Australian Coptic Movement Association
F: 02 8011 1246
PO Box 30, St Clair NSW 2759