For immediate release – 31 July 2014
Senior leaders of the NSW Council of Churches have issued strong calls for action by the Australian government and the international community to address severe human rights abuse of Christians in Iraq.
Persecution by members of the militant Islamist group ISIS against Christians has escalated in recent days, especially in Mosul in northern Iraq near the ruins of the ancient city of Nineveh.
The President of the NSW Council of Churches, the Reverend Dr Ross Clifford, and other church leaders called for an end to religiously-based violence and oppression in Iraq, and asked Christians in Australia to support their Iraqi brothers and sisters in prayers for peace and justice.
“This is a trampling of the basic human right of religious freedom and peaceful religious coexistence which all people of goodwill find not only frightening but a threat to universal human dignity,” Dr Clifford said.
“In the name of Jesus, we call on our federal government to oppose this brutality in the strongest terms,” he said.
The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, said it was an outrage that a community established in the early centuries of the Christian era should face expulsion from their own land simply for expressing their faith.
“In the same area where God sent the prophet Jonah to turn back the people of Nineveh from their evil ways, we pray for a turning back of the evil which has come upon the Christians of Mosul, stripped of their livelihood, property and possessions. The Australian government, the international community and the UN must not stand by while such persecution continues unabated,” Dr Davies said.
“We have entered a period of significant suffering for Christians around the world: from Iraq to Syria and from Egypt to Sudan,” the Archbishop said. “While the Cross is the symbol of suffering for all who are followers of Jesus of Nazareth, we have a responsibility to stand with our brothers and sisters in the face of such unmitigated persecution.”
Media contact Rod Benson 0412 421 678