Coptic Christians facing deportation to Egypt plead for 'peace of mind'

Up to 10 Coptic Christian asylum seekers in Melbourne are pleading with the federal government to be allowed to stay in Australia, just days before they're due to be deported to Egypt.

A group of Coptic Christian asylum seekers is hoping a last-minute reprieve from the Home Affairs department will prevent them from being deported to Egypt.
 
According to the Australian Coptic Movement, 10 out of a group of 29 asylum seekers have had their claims for asylum rejected; they were expected to return to their homeland next week.
 
 
Ramez Abdallah Ramez and his wife Malaka Abdelmalak flew to Australia five years ago, as an uprising against the Egyptian government was threatening the safety of Coptic Christians.
 
As the attacks continued, the couple fought to remain in Melbourne with their two children.
 
Now in their 70s with a long list of health issues, they are still facing imminent deportation.
 
"I want to live the rest of my life, what's left of my days, with peace of mind," Mr Ramez said, wiping tears from his eyes. "I want to sleep at night. That's all I ask, nothing else."
 
His wife also held grave fears if they were forced to return to Cairo.
 
"We've been here for five years," she said. "If we go back, then what? They will kill us."
 
Mourners during the funeral of victims killed in an attack at the Monastery of St Samuel the Confessor, in Minya Province, central Egypt, 26 May 2017.
Source: AAP

 
Journalist Emad Ghobrial also fled Egypt after being assaulted for writing about Coptic persecution.
 
He said he didn't understand why the federal government wanted him to leave, after it had promised to protect Coptic Christians.
  
"I am very sad about this," he said. "When I go back to Egypt, (the extremist groups) will attack me again. 
 
"We are Coptic, we are suffering. I appeal to the Australian government."
 
During an interview with 2GB Radio in June, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton was adamant no true asylum seeker would be sent back to his or her homeland.
  
"We're not going to deport anyone until we can have another look at each of the cases," he said. "But in some cases, we do have concerns about the legitimacy of the claims made."
 
Security forces examine the scene inside the St. Mark Cathedral in central Cairo, following a bombing, November 2016.
Source: AAP

 
In a statement to SBS, the Department of Home Affairs said assessments have been made "based on current country information and claims specific to each case."
 
"'Ministerial intervention is reserved for unique and exceptional cases," the statement said, adding that Assistant Minister Alex Hawke "considers every case on its merits."
 
Jimmy Morcos, a Melbourne-based lawyer representing four of the 10 asylum seekers on behalf of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese, remained confident of a last-minute change.
 
  
"It's only been just recently that Pope Tawadros was here and Minister Dutton had met with him and he explained the concerns the Church is facing," he said. 
 
"Based on that, we think there is every chance we can get some sort of a reprieve."

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Published 7 March 2018 at 7:15pm, updated 8 March 2018 at 1:42pm
By Manny Tsigas