MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS Senator the Hon. Bob Carr Press Release:
FOREIGN MINISTER CALLS ON EGYPTIAN GOVERNMENT TO PROTECT MINORITIES
Foreign Minister Bob Carr reaffirmed the Federal Government’s commitment to protect the personal and religious freedoms of Egypt’s Coptic community.
Speaking on ABC’s Q&A, Senator Carr said: “We’ve got an interest in protecting the minorities of the Middle East so that we can preserve something of that overlap of cultures that was for a long time the heritage of Middle Eastern life.
“The first phone call I made to an Australian Ambassador after I was designated Foreign Minister was to our Ambassador in Cairo. I asked him to visit the Coptic churches and monasteries and called on the acting Pope to give me a report on the safety of this great community.
“I will be at the Coptic Church in Sydney on Sunday. The welfare of the community is very close to my heart and Australia will fight hard to see that their anxieties aren’t increased as the political situation in Egypt continues to change.”
During his visit to Egypt in September 2012, Senator Carr discussed the importance of religious tolerance and raised the situation of Coptic Christians in meetings with President Morsi, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Sheikh Al-Tayeb and the acting Patriarch of the Coptic Church, Bishop Bakhomious.
“President Morsi assured me that he meant what he said in his first speech as President-elect: he was President for all Egyptians,” Senator Carr said.
Australia’s Ambassador to Egypt called on Egypt’s new Coptic Pope, His Holiness Pope Tawadros, on December 23 to convey congratulations on his position and reaffirm Australian support for religious freedom for all Egyptians.
Australia will continue to make representations to Egyptian authorities on the need to ensure religious freedoms are maintained and the rule of law is applied equally to all Egyptians.
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