Coptic movement in Australia urges Kevin Rudd to express concern over Coptic persecution in Egypt

Australian Coptic Movement Association

The Hon. Kevin Rudd MP, the Australian Foreign Affairs Minister, has today attended a meeting with His Excellency, President Mohammad Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. The two are set to host Middle Eastern peace talks, in a rare visit by a senior Cabinet minister to Egypt.

Given the nature of this meeting, the Australian Coptic Movement (ACM) have issued a statement, stating that it would have been only appropriate that the Hon. Kevin Rudd convey the concerns of the Australian Government and the people, over the state of affairs pertaining to Egypt’s Indigenous Coptic Population of over 10 million.

“It is an opportune time for the Foreign Affairs Minister to convey the concerns, if not of his Government, then at least of Australian citizens who have written thousands of letters to the Department of Foreign Affairs in recent months, concerning the gross human rights violations directed at Egypt’s Copts,” said the Australian Coptic Movement.

Over the past year alone, scores of horrific crimes were reported to have been committed against Copts in Egypt. The first occurring on Jan. 6, 2010, on the Coptic Christmas Eve in the City of Naga Hammadi (near Luxor) – where a car of armed Muslims, blindly shot at churchgoers. The result was 7 dead, several wounded and many arrested and detained. As of yet, the criminals have not been brought to justice.

The second event took place on Nov. 24, 2010, near the city of Giza (where the pyramids are located), where State Security was deployed against Coptic protesters, demonstrating against the incongruous ruling by the Chief District of Giza, to halt development of a church, despite the governor of Giza, granting the building permit a year earlier. State security used excessive force, including brick slinging and live ammunition against the protesters, resulting in many deaths, up to 100 seriously wounded and more than 152 arrested and detained.

“What is so alarming about these events, is that not only are Copts being blatantly persecuted by citizens and police alike, but the Egyptian government has not prosecuted nor attempted to prosecute those charged. Indeed, the Egyptian government has preferred to label the Copts as being the problem, through the use of government controlled media, and is even meddling in the internal affairs of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt, an ancient church dating back 2000 years and in existence well before the Arab invasion of Egypt,” reported the Australian Coptic Movement.

“We remind the Hon. Minister for Foreign Affairs that Australia’s Coptic Community and sympathisers have been campaigning for justice in Egypt for over 40 years, however in the past year alone, thousands of Australian Copts and their supporters have been publicly raising awareness about this issue, and so, on December 16, 2010, a further public event will be held in Sydney’s CBD, campaigning for the release of the 152 detainees.“

Indeed, the aim of the latest public event and indeed, of ACM, is best summarised by ACM Activist and member Peter Tadros;

"We kindly request that that the Hon. Minister Mr Rudd, take this opportunity to convey the grave concerns of thousands of Australian Copts for the 152+ Coptic detainees in the aftermath of the violent clashes with Egyptian Police in Giza on 24/11/10 where excessive force was used against Coptic Christians trying to protect their property from attack by Egyptian Security Forces. Copts are not only marginalised in mainstream Egyptian Society, but they are being systematically targeted by both Muslim mobs and in the case of Giza, the Egyptian Security forces themselves".

“We are quite sure that the Hon. Kevin Rudd MP is able to heed our requests and the plight of our brothers and sisters in Egypt, and acknowledges that the very country he is relying on as a central player in peace in the Middle East, can afford this peace to its native citizens.”

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