Honouring the slain
MEMORIAL FOR OVERSEAS CHRISTIANS
MOTORISTS on Shepperton Road in East Victoria Park may have noticed 21 orange jumpsuits pinned along the fence-line of the St Mary and Archangel Michael Coptic Orthodox Church.
The effigies were erected after the church held a memorial service on Tuesday, February 24, in honour of the 21 Coptic Christians killed in Libya last month.
Father Abram Abdelmalek said he hoped the display would raise awareness of the plight of Coptic (Egyptian) Christians in Libya, where up to 80,000 are unable to leave due to ISIL control.
Libya is Africa’s fourth largest nation, with a population of about six million people.
The Egyptian government and the Coptic Church confirmed the authenticity of a video released by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) of the Egyptian workers, all wearing orange jumpsuits, beheaded near a waterfront in the province of Tripoli.
“I don’t know any of the 21 personally but there are people in our church who are from the same towns and villages,” Fr Abram said.
He said he also felt Australia was supporting the wrong group of people and called for more support for the Egyptian people who successfully rejected any Islamic government in their country last year.
He warned the public of the danger of allowing any extremism in Australia.
Fr Abram said Prime Minister Tony Abbott sent a letter to the Coptic Church in Melbourne, condemning the killings and offering support to the church, but he felt Mr Abbott had fallen short by not making a public statement.
He said a statement by Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop about the deaths and posted on her website on February 16 was appreciated.
“The Australian Government strongly condemns the mass beheading overnight of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians by Daeshaffiliated extremists in Libya,” the statement read.
“This barbaric act closely follows the heinous murders of a Jordanian pilot and two Japanese nationals by Daesh.
“Such atrocities only strengthen our resolve to work with our partners to counter the threat posed by Daesh and its affiliates.”
Father Abram Abdelmalek with effigies at the St Mary and Archangel Michael Coptic Orthodox Church in East Victoria Park.