Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese REPORT
24 Jan 2012

Christian Copts protest in Egypt
Tomorrow, 25 January marks the first anniversary of Egypt's popular uprising when hundreds of thousands demonstrated in Cairo's Tahrir Square to demand democracy, jobs and the overthrow of ruthless dictator, Hosni Mubarak. But for Sydney's Christian Coptic community there will be no celebrations to mark the event.
Instead Christian Copts and Egyptian-Australian Muslims will stand together in solidarity outside the Egyptian consulate to protest the hi-jacking of the revolution by Egypt's military and Islamic fundamentalists.
"The Coptic Orthodox Church in Sydney is living in sadness and is mourning the ugly and inhumane actions by Egypt's military junta that have caused unbearable suffering to the Egyptian people, especially the Coptic Christians," Father Tadros Simon, Vicar General of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Sydney said in a statement on the anniversary of the uprising when Egyptians world-wide remember those who died or were injured during last year's demonstrations that ushered in the so-called Arab Spring.
But the revolution that was supposed to bring democracy, freedom of speech, free elections, boost the economy, end police brutality and create jobs for the 48% of the country who were unemployed, has instead seen a sharp escalation in military and police violence and crackdowns as well as a rise in the formerly banned Islamic groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and the ultra-conservative Sulafists.

Protests in Tahrir Square, Cairo
In Egypt's recent series of elections, the formerly banned Muslim Brotherhood's coalition of Muslim fundamentalists, garnered 47% or 235 seats in the 498-seat Parliament while the hardline Sulafists' Al Nour Party, which wants to impose strict Sharia Law, won 25% of the vote or 125 seats.
"Last year's revolution was non sectarian. It had nothing to do with religion and was a demand for democracy. But this is not what has happened. The Islamists who now hold the majority do not represent the revolution and stand for nothing that was fought for," insists Peter Tadros of the Australian Coptic Movement (ACM).
But the Islamist fundamentalists and extremists now control Egypt's new Parliament.
Equally disturbing for Australia's Egyptian and Coptic community is the fact that those who are determined to take back the revolution and what they demonstrated for, are now being labelled "trouble-makers" and "traitors" by Egypt's interim military government.

Bombing at Coptic Church in Alexandria
"The rally at the Egyptian Consulate tomorrow is about remembering those who gave their lives in the uprising and to raise awareness about what is happening in Egypt, and to let people know the revolution and all that was fought for is far from over," Peter says.
Organised by Sam Mansour of the EAC-Aus (the Egyptian Association for Change Australia), the rally will begin at 6 pm with more than 1000 of the city's Coptic and Egyptian community and their supporters expected to attend.
"Discrepancies about the voting in the three elections continue to emerge with an academic in Cairo estimating that as many as 9 million of the 27 million votes received being invalid," Sam charges and says there is widespread evidence in his homeland of ballots being dumped in rubbish bins without being counted along with claims that in many instances people voted 42 times or more and had each of these votes counted as valid.
While elections are yet to be held for Egypt's upper house and for president, the rise of the Brotherhood and Sulafists alarms moderates throughout Egypt's 80 million population who are concerned for the nation's 8 million Christian Copts who trace their ancestry back to the time of the Pharoahs and their conversion to Christianity to the second century, several hundred years before the founding of Islam.

Coptic Christians attacked by Muslim extremists
as they march in memory of the dead
Persecution of Egypt's Christian Copts has dramatically increased during the past year with their churches burned, homes attacked, businesses destroyed and forcibly evacuated from their villages. The culmination of this reign of terror against the Copts occurred in October last year during a peaceful demonstration by Cairo's Coptic community to protest the latest burning by Muslims of one of their churches.
Attacked with clubs, stones and bottles from surrounding rooftops by Muslim extremists, the demonstration became a horrifying blood bath after the military moved in and rammed huge armed personnel carriers at high speed into the crowds. Men women and children fled in terror as military vehicles ran over people and made no attempt to slow down. Twenty-seven Coptic Christians were killed and more than 300 injured.

Egyptian Coptic Christians protested
against burning of their churches
"But three months later there has been no proper inquiry and no one has been found responsible for the massacre and no one has been brought to justice," says Peter Tadros and dismisses Egypt's Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) invitation to the world to join in celebrations tomorrow to mark "the success of the revolution" as insulting.
"The fight and struggle for freedom, justice and equality is yet to be achieved," he insists describing the tyranny and brutal repression of pro democracy protestors and Coptic Christians in Egypt by the SCAF as just as cruel and despotic as the Mubarak regime.
For Father Tadros Simon, Vicar General of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Sydney, the 12 months since last year's uprising in Cairo on 25 January 2012 gives Egyptians no cause for celebration.
"We as the Coptic Orthodox Church in Sydney and its Affiliated Regions are boycotting any celebrations, and see no point celebrating until and only until, Egypt comes out of the dark tunnel she has been pushed into by the ruling Military junta," he says.

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