Coptic Christians in Sydney draws thousands in protest

missions_10032_11.jpgon the first year anniversary of the Naga Hammadi rally, another rally was held in Martin Place. This protest was organized by Australian Coptic Movement (ACM) in conjunction with the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Sydney and its Affiliated Regions. The objective of this rally was to protest the recent Alexandrian bombings. In this latest attack against Christians, official numbers report 23 died and 87 were injured; making this incident the single worst attack against Christians in a decade, one of three in less than 12 months and one of hundreds committed over 39 years.

This protest saw thousands of people from all suburbs of Sydney and walks of life, attend, despite the bad weather. Copts, Melkites, Assyrians, Catholics and those of other denominations and faiths were some of the few who attended. Also in attendance were dignitaries from different parties and different backgrounds, who braved the morning showers and who were able to attend despite the ongoing floods in Queensland and Victoria – underscoring the importance of our protest and the fact that we are all Australians and that Copts are Australian before they are Egyptian.

Those in attendance included, Senator Concetta Firravanti–Wells, the Senator for NSW and who was sent as a representative on behalf of the Hon. Mr. Tony Abbott MP, the Federal Opposition leader. Also in attendance was Greg Donnelly MLC, representing NSW Premier, Kristina Kenneally. Additionally, the Hon. Craig Kelly MP, Liberal member for Hughes, the very Rev. Fred Nile MLC, president of the Christian Democratic Party and the Hon. David Clarke MLC, parliamentary secretary of the NSW Shadow Attorney – General.

After the aforementioned guests delivered the impassioned and much appreciated speeches, the protestors travelled from Martin Place to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Tradin (DFAT), on Pitt Street. NSW State police played a much appreciated role in closing down Pitt Street for the protest for approximately an hour. This march attracted even more people, as the protestors marched in solidarity to DFAT, chanting slogans aimed at the Australian and Egyptian governments’ reticence on the Coptic plight.

Once the group arrived at DFAT, four members from the Coptic community – three members of the clergy, very Rev. Father Tadros Simon, the Vicar – General of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Sydney, very Rev. Father Mina Discorous and Father Matthew Attia, as well as Mr. Peter Tadros of ACM, went up to the office and handed the documents to the representative of the Hon. Kevin Rudd MP.

After the protest had ended, members of ACM met with former Australian Prime Minister, Mr. John Howard, who expressed his concerns and sympathy regarding the situation in Egypt. He also supported Mr. Abbott’s condemnation of the attacks.

The Australian Coptic Movement is awaiting Mr. Rudd and Ms. Gillard’s commitment to the issue.