Coptic Persecution highlighted in Parliament House

marie-ficarra

The Australian Coptic Movement Association welcomes the attention of the Coptic plight raised in the NSW Parliament brought forward by The Hon. Maria Ficarra MLC, Liberal Member of the Legislative Council and Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier. A full transcript of Senator Ficarra’s speech has been included below. On behalf of the Coptic community, the ACM thanks Senator Ficarra for her ongoing advocacy of our cause.


The Hon. MARIE FICARRA (Parliamentary Secretary) [3.57 p.m.]: Much has been written about the turbulence Egypt has faced since the overthrow of the Mubarak regime—two presidents have been brought down in less than three years and violence has continued to be perpetrated against Egyptians Copts and other Christian minorities representing 15 to 20 per cent of the population. This violence escalated under president Morsi and his ruling Muslim Brotherhood. Their supreme leader, Muhammad Badie, in a calculated and unjust manner, openly attacked Coptic Pope Tawadros II and accused him of supporting the uprising against President Morsi. This move was designed to bring popular rage upon the Copts. Retaliatory attacks by militant elements of the Muslim Brotherhood on the Copts and other Muslims seeking peace have mobilised many law-abiding Egyptians to attend the protests and rallies against former President Morsi. I commend Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile and his fiancée, Silvana Nero, for their brave attendance at such rallies in Tahrir Square in Cairo almost two months ago, in support of peace, stability and the right of all Egyptians to worship their faith in freedom.

Currently the military-backed government presides over a divided nation, with more than 900 people killed and thousands arrested in the army crackdown on militant elements of the Muslim Brotherhood. The world looks on with trepidation for the majority of good Egyptian citizens trapped in this disarray. Recently 10-year-old Jessica Boulous was killed while walking home from Sunday school in Cairo. Many other citizens have been butchered and beheaded when their families could not afford to pay the ransom demanded for their release. These are only some examples of the lawlessness that must be curbed if Egypt is to return to its rightful place in the Middle East as the safe, historical and vital democratic nation it was for so many years. I consider myself fortunate to have travelled extensively throughout Egypt on two occasions and I love its great heritage and natural beauty.

More than 90 Coptic churches and monasteries have been destroyed, some dating back to the fourth century AD. This is an unimaginable loss for the entire world. The Egyptian Coptic faith was established by St Mark in the first century AD. Schools, institutions and Coptic-owned homes and businesses have been destroyed in violent rampages by Islamists both before and since the military crackdown, especially in southern Egypt, with little police or military presence. Scores of Copts have been killed and injured in the worst attacks on Egypt’s Coptic community in modern history. Copts have not been the only target of these coordinated attacks, with extremist Islamists killing hundreds of policemen.

Police stations, blood banks, hospitals and other public buildings have been targeted. Museums have been looted and burned. Artefacts have been stolen and destroyed. Militants even tried to destroy the Library of Alexandria, as noted by Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile. This has dismayed moderate Islamists, and they have often been the victims of such acts of violence alongside the Copts. Such evil and violence has to be addressed by the police and the military if justice and stability is to return to the streets, villages, towns and cities of Egypt.

Only last weekend Australians of Egyptian heritage and their many non-Egyptian supporters rallied in Martin Place, as they have done many times in the past few years, calling for peace and justice for the Coptic Orthodox and other Christians in Egypt. Copts continue to live under siege all over Egypt and they continue to fear coordinated attacks by militant Muslim Brotherhood followers. His Grace Bishop Daniel of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Sydney and His Grace Bishop Daniel of St Shenouda Coptic Monastery have shown great civic and spiritual leadership along with other church and community leaders from the Coptic and Orthodox faiths, other Christian denominations and local Islamic leaders in their call for calm and justice to prevail in Egypt.

I commend the efforts of Australian Coptic Movement leaders Monica Mikhail and Peter Tadros and their committee members for their peaceful yet powerful calls on the Australian Federal Government and international powers to do more to support their families in Egypt who are caught in this terrible turmoil. In a non-partisan manner many members of Parliament from across Australia have supported the Australian Coptic Movement’s calls urging Australia to use its seat on the United Nations Security Council to vigorously condemn the violence in Egypt and to call for a return to peace and democracy.

They also wish to see the establishment of a commission of inquiry into the persecution of Christian minorities in Egypt. Perpetrators of such crimes in Egypt over the past three years must be apprehended, charged, tried and convicted if guilty. True democracies are judged by how they protect and uphold the rights of their minorities. Egypt and its political and military leaders will be no exception. I commend Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile and the Hon. David Clarke for their appearance at the rally. They have always been firm supporters of Christians throughout the Middle East.

Contact: Hon Maria Ficarra, MLC

marie.ficarra@parliament.nsw.gov.au

P: 02 9230 2894

F: 02 9230 2466

 

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