Coptic refugees in Australia living with the fear of death

Image 1 asylum seekers 2018

This is not the time to be sending vulnerable Coptic Christians back to Egypt.  2017 was the worst year in living memory for Egypt’s Copts.  

Melbourne; Australia; February 2018

Coptic Christian families in Australia fear for their lives if they are forced by the Australian Government to return to Egypt where they face unprovoked attacks and the scourge of terrorism first-hand.

A target for Islamic State militants and other Muslim extremists, the Copts and other Christians in the region are subjected to murder, kidnapping and continued acts of discrimination.

On 30 December 2017, 11 worshippers at a Coptic Christian church in Cairo were killed when a gunman on a motorcycle opened fire on the crowd. This followed a bus attack in May that left 28 dead and 24 injured, including children, as they travelled to a monastery in central Egypt. Also in 2017, Palm Sunday bombings killed at least 45 people and injured 126 while a Cairo Church bombing, in the lead up to the Orthodox Christmas, claimed the lives of 29 people and injured 47 others.

“Copts are living in daily danger because the Egyptian government is not affording protection,” says Peter Tadros, spokesperson from the Australian Coptic Movement.

Australia is home to over 80,000 of the world’s 20 million Coptic Christians, many of whom fled persecution in Egypt during the past 10 years of unprovoked attacks and acts of terrorism against Christians in the Middle East.

Last year, the Coptic Pope, His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, expressed gratitude for the bipartisan support of Australian Federal Parliament in supporting the granting of asylum to Coptic refugees. Today, many of these Copts are still living in fear for their future.

“Granted only tourist visas with no further stay condition, these families will be forced to return unless the Australian Government stands by its promise to not send Coptic Christians back to face persecution and acts of terrorism,” said Peter.

Among those families being forced to return are 73-year-old grandmother Malaka Abdelmalak and her 75-year-old husband Ramez Abdalla Ramez. Currently being cared for by their children in Australia, Malaka suffers diabetes and severe gout arthritis while Ramez has life-threatening end stage kidney disease, diabetes, ischaemic heart disease and osteoarthritis.

“Our home town is Cairo but we do not have any family there to look after us as all our children are here in Australia. My husband’s kidney disease is dangerous and life threatening in Egypt as the hospitals do not have the same type of peritoneal dialysis.”

Emad Ghobrial is a 42-year-old journalist and political activist for his articles defending the rights of oppressed.

“I wrote several articles in newspapers and magazines on the suffering and persecution of the Copts in Egypt, which led to me being threatened, stalked and assaulted at my work and home when members of Muslim extremist groups learned of my published articles.
Since arriving in Australia, Emad has continued reporting on Coptic persecution and is notified by priests in Egypt when young Coptic girls are kidnapped and forced to marry Muslim men.

“With the help of others, I have worked to return many girls to their families. However, this work has given the extremists further reason to consider me an enemy who is trying ruin their efforts.

“I have faced kidnapping attempts, physical attacks and threats towards, family and friends in Egypt. If I return to Egypt I will be attacked again as I am still wanted by them.”

Cousins Michael Ramzy and Raed Mikhel arrived in Australia in 2012 following an attack on their village in El Ghorizat in November 2011. Muslim extremists targeted all Christian houses killing two men and looted businesses, including Michael’s phone store.

Michael, a 31-year-old law graduate, managed to escape to Australia with a group of friends and relatives from his town in 2012.
Keen to contribute to Australian society, Michael started working in Australia as soon as he arrived and actively sought a work visa, even lodging the case with Federal Court and the High Court.

“If I am forced back to Egypt, I will face the same targeted attacks at Church, on feast days and in daily life. Our Church is a terrorist target. I couldn’t open my phone shop because being Christian in Egypt is enough reason to be killed.”

Raed Mikhel is 32 years old and holds a degree in Education from Egypt. He arrived with hopes for a better life but still waits in limbo for his future to be decided by the Australian Government.

“After spending six years in Australia, I have nothing to show for it, I have been living a very stressful life with no hope, no future, and no goals,” he says. Living through this stress has caused health problems for Raed, who is suffering from high blood pressure.

“Every day we hear about a new incident in Egypt where Christians have been attacked and killed, such as when Christians were travelling to the monastery and killed on the way. We are targets at our feasts and celebrations as they try to kill as many of us as possible. My extended family and friends still in Egypt tell me how all the girls and women have to be in their homes before sunset, due to the increase in kidnapping of young Coptic girls.”

enquiries to aucopticmovement@gmail.com

-end-

Michael

Michael, Raed and Emad 

WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT TODAY

The Team at the Australian Coptic Movement Association is seeking support to continue its advocacy work by opening a fully resourced office in Canberra.

The Australian Coptic Movement Association Ltd (ACM) was founded in 2010.

The ACM is a community advocacy group that fights for human rights in Egypt by exposing the persecution suffered by Copts, advocating for greater political and civil liberties, and calling for the justice and security of Copts.

By closely working with the wider Australian community, government bodies, the media, and other human rights organizations, ACM has quickly grown to become one of the most active Coptic organizations in Australia, accumulating nationwide support. This status is reflected and recorded in Hansard records and numerous national and international media reports.

The ACM has achieved many milestones, which has brought it to the forefront of the struggle for freedom. These achievements include organizing rallies, lobbying the Australian government to pass motions in the Federal and NSW Houses of Parliament, conducting letter-writing campaigns, releasing media statements, publishing material (including our own book) providing support to Coptic asylum seekers, and encouraging Copts to assimilate into the wider community. We are currently in the process of restructuring and hope to open an office soon. Please help us fast-track our plans and donate to help us fully resource this initiative.

Now, more than ever, we are in great need of independent civil community groups to play an influential role locally and overseas.

Account Name: The Australian Coptic Movement Association Ltd
BSB: 032 – 273
Account: 317405
Donations greater than $2.00 are tax deductible.
Enquiries: aucopticmovement@gmail.com

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3 Responses to “Coptic refugees in Australia living with the fear of death”

  1. Kristian Sharobeem says:

    These guys really need support from Australian government.. otherwise their lives would be in danger.

  2. Andrea McLaren says:

    I would be interested in emails keeping me up t o date. I pray for the Coptic Church n have Coptic friends.
    My husband n I are sponsoring a Coptic christian health worker to come to work with us.

  3. Manal says:

    Hi …

    My name is Safaa Bekiet.
    My 2 children and I are struggling to get a visa to stay in Australia.
    I have attached my letter.

    If you could please help me and include my name, I would be very grateful.

    God bless you,

    Safaa

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