Coptic Christians will be staging protests in multiple cities at the end of the month to bring attention to the ongoing persecution their communities suffer in Egypt.
The Australian Coptic Movement Association said on Facebook Friday that protests on Dec. 30 are scheduled in at least three cities: Sydney, Melbourne, and Darwin.
The Coptic community has faced several tragedies in 2018. It's still reeling from the murder of father and son Emad and David Kamal Sadiq who were killed on Dec. 12 by a police officer who had been tasked with guarding a Christian church.
Al-Monitor reported on Thursday that Sgt. Rabie Mostafa Khalifa has officially been charged with premeditated murder in the shooting deaths of the believers after he opened fire while guarding Nahdet al-Qadasa Church in the Minya governorate.
The shooting occurred after the officer got into an argument with the men, who were working at the time as contractors removing the ruins of a demolished house facing the church.
Hundreds of mourners attended their funerals, Middle East Eye reported, demanding justice from the Egyptian government for the series of attacks they have suffered in the past couple of years.
A similar outcry of grief and anger followed the killings of seven believers at the hands of Islamic militants near a monastery in Minya in November.
Egyptian police said at the time that they pursued the militants and killed 19 of them in a shoot-out into a desert area west of Minya province.
The victims included one Anglican and six Copts, with mourners chanting at the funerals: "With our souls, with our blood, we will defend the cross!"
The Australian Coptic Movement Association said that Christians are being forced to accept “reconciliation” instead of justice over the violence against them, and are suffering from other forms of persecution as well.
“Egyptian authorities, particularly in Southern Egypt, continued to conduct ‘customary reconciliation’ sessions between Muslims and Christians. In ALL cases, we have the Muslim majority attacking the local Christian minority and the local authorities and Muslim and Christian religious leaders at times have abused these sessions to compel victims to abandon their claims to any legal remedy,” the association added.
“Dismayingly, in some cases, Christian families have been forced to leave their villages and sell their property.”
Ahead of the protests on Dec. 30, the group made several urgent requests of the Egyptian government.
It called for the establishment of a special inquiry to examine and investigate all sectarian attacks that have occurred and bring those responsible to justice.
It demanded an end to the forced “reconciliation sessions,” and separately urged protection for Egyptian Christian women and girls, which it said are at risk of being kidnapped and forcefully converted.
“As we approach a New Year, we also take time out to remember and pray for the hundreds of families who have been impacted by previous massacres that have occurred at this time,” it said.
“From El-Kosheh to Alexandria, we have many hundreds of families celebrating New Year's and Coptic Orthodox Christmas without loved ones at their dinner table. In the majority of cases, the murderers are roaming the streets freely as no one is ever sentenced for these terrible crimes.”