The Anglican Primate of Australia, Melbourne Archbishop Philip Freier, has thanked the Federal Government for deciding to review a deportation order against 80 Coptic Christians because they face systemic violence and persecution in Egypt.
The Copts from 22 families faced deportation, but Assistant Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has announced he will review all rejected protection claims lodged by Coptic Christians in Australia, saying new information in recent days highlighted the violence Copts faced from Islamic State terrorists.
Archbishop Freier said today: “I welcome Minister Alex Hawke’s decision to review decisions which rejected visa applications by Coptic Christians. Clearly, the situation in their home country gives no comfort for Coptic people who Australia would be returning to Egypt. I am grateful for the compassion of the Australian Government in undertaking this review.”
Mr Hawke said the Government would carefully assess cases of Coptic Christians in Australia during this period of emergency in Egypt. “Copts in Australia will have an appropriate visa during this period to remain lawfully here.”
The decision to allow the Copts to stay in Australia at least until it is safer in Egypt follows pressure from Federal Labor, the Australian Christian Lobby and the Coptic Bishop of Australia.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack last week in which 29 Coptic Christians including children were killed by masked gunmen on a bus on the way to a monastery. Other recent atrocities against Copts include a suicide bombing in a Cairo church at Christmas that killed 29 people and two suicide bomb s at Palm Sunday services that killed 46.
Picture: Coptic Pope Tawadros II