With MH17 and Gaza rightly in the world spotlight, the Australian Christian Lobby is concerned that religious persecution of Christians in Syria and Iraq is escaping unnoticed.

ACL Managing Director Lyle Shelton said today while it was understandable that political leaders had their focus elsewhere, he urged them not to forget the plight of Christians who were being forced to convert to Islam, pay a protection tax, or face death.

“It is inconceivable that this sort of thing is happening in this day and age,” Mr Shelton said.

“We have become so numb to tragic world events of late that we are in danger of becoming numb to atrocity.

“Many Australians of Syrian and Assyrian background are deeply concerned with what is happening in their former homelands.

“The Christians being persecuted in places like Mosul have been there for nearly 2000 years and are considered indigenous peoples to the area.”

Reports of Christian houses and possessions being marked with the Arabic letter N for Nasrani or Nazarene, had chilling echoes of the holocaust.

“Nations like Australia have a moral obligation to speak out against such persecution,” Mr Shelton said.

He urged the government and opposition to condemn the so-called Islamic State’s persecution of Christians and other religious minorities.

“There are many Australian Christians of Middle Eastern background in western Sydney and in Melbourne watching events in northern Iraq and Syria in horror.”

Mr Shelton said many Australian Christians were updating their Facebook profile pictures (see image on left) with the Arabic N as a way of showing solidarity.

A petition is being circulated urging the Australian Government to raise the plight of persecuted Christians at the G20 Summit in Brisbane and at the UN Security Council, where Australia is a non-permanent member