Sydney -- Hundreds of persons gathered at Martin Place in Sydney on Sunday 14 April 2013, to protest the continuous persecution of Egypt's indigenous Christians. The rally was attended by political leaders from Federal, State and Local Government, to support calls by the Australian Coptic Movement and the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church in Australia to condemn the violation of basic human rights of the Christian Copts of Egypt. Mr Hermiz Shahen, The Deputy Secretary General of the Assyrian Universal Alliance and Mr. David David, president of the Assyrian Australian National Federation joined in the protest. Mr. Shahen addressed the gathering in a show of support for the Copts of Egypt. He delivered the following in his speech:
Greetings from the Assyrians of Australia, We, the representatives from the Assyrian community in Australia, have gathered here to show our support for the Copts of Egypt. An integral part of the ancient Egyptian Society, Copts are another indigenous group which is facing organized oppression and forced emigration in different regions of their historical country because they have chosen not to succumb to Islam. The fundamentalist Islamist terrorists, left unchecked by the Egyptian government, raid Copts' homes and churches, and threaten the lives of these defenceless Christians. It is unimaginable that in the 21st century, security and equality for Christians in Egypt, and most Islamic countries of the Middle East, is still a dream. The Copts are the second largest group of citizens in Egypt, but without the full rights, support and security they deserve. They are facing a campaign of ethnic cleansing that is being carried out by fanatic Muslims. Ironically, the freedom from the tyranny of the past regime was bestowed upon them by help from none other than the Christian countries of the West.
Tens of thousands of Egyptian Christians are leaving their ancestral homeland in the wake of the Egyptian revolution and subsequent rise of fundamentalist Islamists to power. The so-called Arab spring, has brought disaster to all the non-Muslim minorities in the Middle East, secreting deadly poison to the Christians of the lands in particular. The Egyptian authorities are responsible for ensuring the protection of their citizens, their homes and livelihoods regardless of their personal beliefs. Time and time again, president Morsi has claimed to be the president of all Egyptians. Now, he needs to take action to ensure that sectarian violence is prevented and when it occurs it is properly investigated and those responsible are brought to justices. Christians in the Middle East are continuously paying the price as a consequence of the silence of the international community. For the last ten years, we have been shouting about the exodus of Assyrians from Iraq. An uprooting that started after the US invasion in 2003 and the biggest threat to the survival of our nation in modern history after the bitter genocide committed against us by the Ottoman Turkey during WWI.
Assyrians, like the Copts, are now dispersed throughout the world as a result of a systematic campaign of massacre and destruction. Six hundred thousand Christian Assyrians, approximately half of Iraq's pre-war population, has fled the country. Today, we are witnessing another secular Islamic country losing its indigenous Christian minority. Assyrians in Syria are fleeing en-masse from threats of kidnappings, rapes and murders. Behind the daily reporting of bombings and shelling that has left the country in ruins there is a quiet ethno-religious cleansing taking place. Soon, Syria, which derives its name from Assyria, will be emptied of its Assyrian and other Christian segments. The Assyrian Universal Alliance in Australia is proud of the strong relationship that we have with the committee and youth of the Australian Coptic Movement. We have a long history of working together for a common and just cause. We hope that with a common resolve and united voice of the Copts and the Assyrians, we can remind the world that there are Christian communities in the Middle East, such as the Copts of Egypt and Assyrians of Iraq and Syria, who are facing oppression and violence every day. We add our voice to yours to appeal to the Australian government to lay out a comprehensive strategy for assisting the Copts of Egypt. Copts need protection and safety living in their land Egypt. As the Egyptian government is failing to provide that, it becomes the duty of the international community to enable Copts and Assyrians to have security and equality with all other citizens of their respective countries. We demand accountability from the governments of Egypt and Iraq as they are signatories to the United Nations' declaration for human rights. We appeal to the learned Muslim citizens of Egypt, Iraq and Syria to stand with us against a movement that will surely keep their countries in the dark ages. To the Islamist Fundamentalists, who are mercilessly crucifying our people, I have only these words to utter: "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing."