A CALL FOR ACTION: from the Australian Coptic Movement. Please join us in this ongoing campaign for action from The Australian Federal Government and contact your local Federal MP and make an appointment to discuss the following. (If you are unable to attend then please write them a letter/email incorporating the following).
List of all Federal MP’s http://www.aph.gov.au/house/members/memlist.pdf
Dear Copts and sympathisers,
As you are all aware the indigenous Coptic Christians in Egypt are suffering much persecution, which is escalating daily and has reached an alarming and unacceptable level. We must continue to put pressure on the Australian Government to act strongly and add their voice to the growing list of international governments, and condemn in the strongest possible terms, the ongoing persecution of Egypt’s Coptic Christians.
We urge you, the peace loving people of this nation, to personally visit and write to your local Federal Member of Parliament and ask them to get involved by:
1. Requesting the Australian Government to issue a public statement condemning atrocities on the Christian minority in Egypt, and Coptic Christians in particular.
2. Requesting the Australian Government to call in the Egyptian ambassador in Canberra and express to him their strong condemnation of these acts, that these acts of terror cease immediately and that the authorities guarantee the effective safety and protection of Copts and other minority groups.
3. Requesting the Australian Government to URGENTLY review the critical situation of the Coptic Christians being persecuted in Egypt and introduce “safe haven” provisions immediately. A safe haven Visa would mean that Copts in immediate danger could be brought to Australia temporarily until the situation improves in Egypt. A similar Visa was provided to the Kosovars in 1999 under the Kosovar Safe Haven Visa.
4. Request that the Department of Immigration and Citizenship update its ‘In Country’ information for Egypt to reflect the ongoing persecution of Egypt’s Copts.
5. Request an answer as to why legitimate visitor’s Visas are being rejected for Copts despite written assurance from the visitors that they will go home on expiry of their Visas.
6. Request the Australian Government to make representations to the European Union and the United States to pass resolutions to end the persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt.
7. Request the Australian Government to push the United Nations to pass resolutions to protect persecuted minority groups in majority Islamic countries including the Coptic Christians.
In your letters or meetings please take along or include the following record of recent incidents this year alone and highlight how critical the situation is, and that the majority of Australia’s Copts still all have families in Egypt whose safety we are fearing for.
Sectarian Attacks Since January 1, 2011
01 January 2011 (On New Year’s eve)
A car bomb exploded in front of an Alexandria Coptic Orthodox Church killing 24 and injuring over 80 people. The incident happened a few minutes after midnight as Christians were leaving a New Year’s eve Church service.
11 January 2011
A policeman opened fire on 6 Christians in a train at Samulut station in El Minya province resulting in the death of a 71-year old Coptic man and injury of 5 others.
Two Islamist groups, aided by Muslim neighbours, descended on the roof of houses owned by Copts, killing eleven Copts including children, and seriously injuring four others in the village of Sharona, in the province of El Minya. Bishop Agathon, Bishop of Maghagha, told Coptic activist Dr. Mona Roman in a televised interview on a Christian Arabic TV station that the killers were their neighbors, who seized the opportunity of the mayhem prevailing in Egypt and the absence of police protection to slaughter the Copts.
The Holy Family Church in Rafah near the Israeli border was bombed. The external walls of the church contained a written message “No to Christians in Muslim land”.
Egyptian Army tanks and soldiers attacked St Bishoy’s Monastery in the Wadie Natroun Valley. They destroyed newly built walls and fired live ammunition upon the monks and labourers resulting in many injuries.
Murder of a Coptic Priest in Asyut. Fr Dawood Botros was stabbed and killed in a violent attack in his home in the village of Shotb.
Copts in the village of Soul in the province of Helwan spent a horrifying night on the 04/03/2011 When hundreds of extremists seized the Christians and attacked the church, burnt and demolished walls and got into the church and vandalised the sacred vessels and the relics of the saints. Muslims spent their night destroying the church amid joyful cries of “Allahu Akbar”. Over 7000 Coptic Christians were evicted from the village and the incident sparked Coptic Demonstrations in downtown Cairo and in other poor areas. The Egyptian military were at the scene and stood by and watched without intervening. The Church of the Two Martyrs was eventually rebuilt under the supervision of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) starting 13 March and was finished in exactly one month, as promised with a lot of media propaganda however no one was convicted despite the video footage showing the perpetrators of this shameful act.
Muslims bombed Christian homes with Molotov Cocktails bombs in the Village of Saft El Laban, Giza.
Coptic Protestors in the slum garbage collector town of Mansheyat Nasr, Mokattam Mountain were attacked by thousands of extremist Muslims. The attack resulted in the massacre of up to 13 people and millions of dollars of damage after all Coptic owned properties in the area were set alight. Over 100 people were severely injured as the protestors came under heavy gunfire by both the extremists and the army.
Coptic Christians gathered in front of a Coptic hospital where Copts wounded by the military were taken on Monday. Over a dozen Copts were shot and beaten early Monday morning by the Egyptian army, some of whose members shouted “Allahu Akbar” during the attacks, Which were caught on videotape. This took place outside the state television station, where a nine-day protest by the Copts had just ended and some out of town demonstrators had remained overnight until the curfew expired.
St. George’s Church in Beni Ahmad, 7 KM south of El Minya was subjected to Muslim intimidation. The 100 year-old church received an official permit from El Minya governorate allowing for the expansion of its eastern side as well as the erection of a social services centre within a small plot of land belonging to the church. Three Salafi Muslims together with a large crowd of village Muslims visited the church on Wednesday 23/03/2011 and ordered the church officials to stop construction immediately and undo what they had completed, otherwise they would demolish the church after Friday prayers. They also demanded the church priest, Father Georgy Thabet, leave the village with his family.
A 22 year old Coptic Pharmacist, Merola Nasif was shot in the head and killed in the village of Deir Mewass in the province of El Minya.
A horrifying incident occurred in which Islamic extremists implemented for the first time in Modern Egypt the Islamic penalty of Hudoud (Sharia law) on a Christian Copt named Anwar Metry by cutting off his ear for allegedly renting his flat to a Muslim prostitute. The perpetrators were not arrested or convicted.
500 Muslim extremists armed with swords, batons and knives, stood in front of St. Mary’s church in the Bashtil district of Imbaba, Giza demanding its closure. They closed the church door and held a number of the parishioners inside, including children. The terrorized Copts called the army to get them out, especially the children, who were traumatized. The military police arrived, freed the congregation and dispersed the Muslim mob without taking any further action.
Father Stephanos Shehata reported to “Copts United” that the Muslim of the Kamadeer Village near Samalut of the Governorate of El Minya have prevented Copts from entering or leaving their homes. For three days Muslims occupied the entrance to St. John the Beloved Church in the village of Kamadeer with their mats, praying and sleeping there while thousands of village Copts staged a sit-in for three continuous days in front of the El Minya governorate building, vowing not to leave until they got their church back. “Even if it takes one year, we will still be here,” said Fr. Youssab in the rally. The Coptic demonstrators demanded the reopening of their church and prosecution of the extremists. Salafi Sheikh Mohamad Saleh, called on Muslims to prevent the restoration of the church,” said Fr. Estephanos. He added the Muslims said we have to move the church to another location, which was refused. “Because they have built a mosque five meters away from the church, this means that of course the church, which has been there for twelve years, has to move.” He said relationships between Copts and Muslims in the village are usually amicable but the Salafi Muslims stepped in and incited Muslims from other villages to besiege the church.
In Abu Qurqas district in the province of El Minya dozens of Copts were injured and one killed during attacks by approximately 5000 armed Muslims. Molotov cocktails were used by Muslims as they shouted “There is no God but God and the Christians are the enemies of God!” This massive attack against Coptic Christians began as a feud between a Muslim van driver who ran over a steep speed bump in front of the villa of Alaa Rida Rojdi, a Coptic lawyer and close associate of Michael Meunier, a prominent Coptic activist based in America. He left his van and began feuding with the home owner. He then went and gathered large numbers of Muslims to attack the lawyer’s home to kill him. They gathered in large numbers and then violence intensified as they turned the situation into a religious feud. Coptic people were attacked randomly. Homes, fields and cars belonging to Copts were burned. Coptic homes and stores were robbed. The police arrested 15 Copts who were trying to calm the situation. The army systematically disarmed Coptic Christians who bore weapons. Muslim Sheiks encouraged the attacks on mosque loudspeakers in the region. “This will be a sad Easter for all Copts”, echoed from the loudspeakers of mosques. Many Copts have since fled the district out of fear.
Copts were terrorized by mobs in the villages of Al-Badraman and Nazlet Al-Badraman, at Deir Mouas, province of Minya, collecting additional taxes from them and seizing their lands. Copts of Al-Badraman have been broken into, kidnapped and forced to pay ransoms to Muslims. The Copts demonstrated in front of the Minister’s office claiming that women and children in particular were kidnapped. Youth also demonstrated and appealed for protection and justice. Five Coptic homes were attacked and destroyed in Al-Badraman, El Minya, Egypt. This village was under siege for over a week as the mobs have taken control of the streets and targeted Coptic Christians in the village. Approximately 300 Christians have fled Al-Badraman since the attacks.
Thousands of extremists marched from various mosques in Cairo towards the Coptic cathedral in Abassiya calling for the freeing of Camilia Shehata and any other Copt whom, according to them, has converted to Islam and was hidden in Coptic monasteries. The military police surrounded the Coptic cathedral to prevent any physical attack against it. Mr Nagib Gabreil, Solicitor of Camilia Shehata confirmed that she is happily married and she is a Christian. He pointed out that Camilia should not be summoned to the General Persecutor as she is not accused of a crime nor a witness in a case.
Camilia eventually appeared live on a Christian Satellite Channel known as “Al Hayat” and openly declared that she has never converted to Islam and that she will die a Christian.
As reported by various news outlets, a mob of about 500 ultra-conservative Muslims known as Salafists gathered Saturday outside the Saint Mina Church in Imbaba, a suburb of Cairo. The enraged crowd demanded that the Christians at the church release a woman they claimed she had converted to Islam but was being kept captive by the leadership of the church. The Imbaba mob, while mostly Salafist, was composed of like-minded Muslims who sought entrance to the church to verify whether the convert was being held inside. The mob responded to resistance with guns, bombs, and arson. Armed soldiers and police attempted to restore order by firing shots in the air and deploying tear gas to disperse the crowd. While the efforts were somewhat successful, the crowd simply relocated to nearby alleys and continued harassing Christians, throwing rocks until the early morning hours. Law enforcement was vexed by a power outage that left the area in complete darkness and provided natural camouflage to the mob. During the night, another church, Saint Mary’s, was set ablaze by a similar violent mob bent on using any criminal means to accomplish their goal of “rescuing” the woman from her Christian “captors.” The event ended with at least 15 reported deaths and hundreds of injuries and was widely reported in the international media. Copts in Imbaba and in Egypt in general live in fear and the events of Imbaba sparked more risky protests by thousands of Copts in Cairo, Alexandria and El Minya.
Scores of mostly Coptic Christian protesters were injured when their weekend demonstration blocking a street near the heart of downtown Cairo was attacked by motorists and residents as riot police stood by, prompting new questions about the ability and willingness of Egypt’s military-led government to maintain security and protect Copts.
Abduction and forced conversion of Coptic women
In addition to the above, Coptic women and girls are frequently abducted, raped and forced to convert to Islam and marry Muslim men, and often never seen again. In April 2010, a bipartisan group of 17 members of the U.S. Congress expressed concern to the State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Office about Coptic women who faced “physical and sexual violence, captivity … exploitation in forced domestic servitude or commercial sexual exploitation, and financial benefit to the individuals who secure the forced conversion
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List of all Federal MP’s http://www.aph.gov.au/house/members/memlist.pdf