The NSW Council of Churches has strongly condemned the reported massacre of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on Sunday.
“As Christians we stand in solidarity with our Coptic brothers and sisters at this time of deep suffering and loss. The NSW Council of Churches lends its prayer support to the Coptic community in its grief,” Council President, the Reverend Dr Ross Clifford, said.
“We also call for appropriate action by the Australian government in response to this latest atrocity committed by religiously motivated terrorists. Such action may include strategic responses by the United Nations Security Council to curb the expansion of Islamic State forces, and an increase in the number of Coptic Christians permitted to emigrate to Australia on the grounds of religious persecution,” Dr Clifford said.
A gruesome video was released by ISIL on Sunday purporting to show the killing of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians kidnapped earlier this year from the coastal town of Sirte in eastern Libya.
In the video, militants in black marched the captives, dressed in orange jump suits, to a beach where they were forced down onto their knees and beheaded.
The video, titled “A message signed with blood to the nation of the cross,” claimed the killings were directed at “the hostile Egyptian Church.”
A spokesperson for the Coptic Church said it was confident the Egyptian government would seek justice in response to the killing of its citizens.
In 2013, Dr Clifford and the Reverend Rod Benson co-authored a chapter titled “The emergence of the Coptic Orthodox Church: An evangelical perspective” in Free the Copts: From Ancient Glory to Modern Oppression, edited by Ramy Tadros and published by the Australian Coptic Movement Association.