MELBOURNE, Australia - Twenty two Christian families have been ordered to leave Australia by the end of this month
The eighty eight family members, many of them children, have been lIving in Australia for a number of years waiting for their permanent visas to be approved.
In an abrupt move, the Australian government has rejected the visa applications of the Coptic Christian families without explanation and given orders for the them to be expelled, to be returned to their homeland, Egypt, where Islamic State is waging a bloody campaign against Christians. The story was revealed by The Catholic Weekly, in an article published on Sunday.
Ironically, the Australian government has simultaneously issued a travel advistory warning Australians to "reconsider" their travel plans if heading for Egypt.
"Reconsider your need to travel," is a level 3 warning, which is only outranked by the level 4 "Do not travel," directive.
"This level (3) means that there are serious and potentially life threatening threats that make the destination unsafe for tourism and unsuitable for most travellers. This could be due to an ongoing threat of terrorism/kidnapping, frequent incidents of violent crime, ongoing civil unrest, widespread disease, or other safety risks. Such destinations often have an unpredictable security environment," the Australian foreign affairs department says in its travel advisory explanations.
"You should think seriously about your need to travel to these places. This may mean deferring non-essential travel or choosing a less risky destination."
The situation for Christians is even more "dire," according to Bishop Anba Suriel, the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the Diocese of Melbourne. "It is as clear as day what is happening. The bombings are all targeting Christians and we know there is more coming," he told The Catholic Weekly.
Bishop Suriel, who met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Cairo earlier this month, said when asked why Australia believed it would be safe in deporting Christian families to Egypt, said "I have no explanation."
Three weeks ago (May 27 2017), 28 Coptic Christians were killed and dozens more were injured by gunmen in 3 pickup trucks who opened fire on the bus which was heading to a monastery in Egypt's Minya province.
Egyptian security and medical officials told the Associated Press many of the dead were children.
A month earlier 45 Christians wre killed in bombings on Palm Sunday at St George's Coptic church in Tanta and St Mark's in Alexandria.
Aftre a spate of other attacks, and a claim by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group it was actively targeting Christians in Egypt, the Egyptian government following the Palm Sunday attacks, declared a 3 months state of emergency.
In December Bishop Suriel was in Cairo when St Peter and St Paul Church in Cairo was attacked, resulting in 45 deaths, and the wounding of scores more. "Within two hours of the bombing I was inside the church and I cannot even begin to tell you what I saw in there," he told The Caholic Weekly. "Blood spattered all over the ground on the walls, people's flesh plastered on the walls, the roof completely blown out, windows shattered, the pews completely destroyed."
The Melbourne-based bishop is calling on Australians to sign a petition on Change.org. They can access the site and sarch for 'Coptic.'
Meantime the 22 Coptic Christian families are packing their bags, they have to be out of the country by June 30. The Boshre family, which lives in Sydney, is one of them. Ashraf and Amany Boshre, their daughters Maria 24, Mira 19, and Monica 13, Ashraf's elderly parents, his sister and her daughter are all bound for Egypt.
Bishop Suriel has sought a meeting with Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton but so far has been unsuccessful.