As 10 Coptic Christians face imminent deportation from Australia, two Eastern Catholic bishops have urged the Turnbull Government to keep in mind Australia's history of helping those in need. Source: The Catholic Weekly.
Among the refugees who fled Egypt under the threat of Islamic extremists and are now living in Melbourne is an elderly couple in their seventies and a mother with young children.
They face deportation this month after their applications for protection visas were rejected, despite the ongoing violence in Egypt against Coptic Christians.
Melkite Eparch, Bishop Robert Rabbat, President of the Eastern Churches Council, said he is “concerned” because “the plight of any person in need, whether a migrant or someone looking for refuge, touches our heart.”
“Australia has always had a policy of opening its doors for the needy and people who are seeking refuge,” Bishop Rabbat said.
“We’re calling upon the government not to hide behind the law.
“The law is needed to care for the average Australian citizen but at the same time not to forget we are talking about human beings who are sometimes under duress. Who cross deserts and oceans and sometimes even die, just to seek a place of refuge. So it has to be a balance of the law and the heart.”
Joining Bishop Rabbat in expressing concern was Maronite Eparch, Bishop Antoine-Charbel Tarabay.
“I will join Bishop Rabbat especially in expressing the need to have a balance between the law and the human approach to the situation,” he told The Catholic Weekly.
“As a Church we encourage our people to respect the law and at the same time to try to help others when we can, to help refugees in these situations.”
Emad Youssef, a journalist from Cairo, is one of the refugees and fears for his life if he returns to Egypt.
“It’s still a dangerous situation,” he said, as Islamic extremist groups are “burning many churches and killing many Christians.”
Mr Youssef said he is a particular target because he has written articles criticising one of the extremist groups.
“They consider me an enemy because I was writing against them. They know me well.”
Imminent deportation of Coptic Christians “breaks election promise” (The Catholic Weekly)