Last week’s massacre in Kenya and the ongoing brutality of Islamic State highlight just how dangerous life is for many Christians and other religious minorities, including Shia Muslims.
As IS burst out of Syria into Iraq forcing Christians and other minorities to convert, flee or die there was a surge of solidarity by Australian Christians.
People changed their Facebook and Twitter profile pictures to the Arabic letter N, identifying with followers of the Nazarene, Jesus.
The N was of course painted on the houses of Christians by IS in a chilling echo of the Star of David patches used by the Nazis to single out Jews for persecution and ultimate destruction.
At the Kenya university, news reports said Muslims were set free while the Christians were shot or taken hostage.
Defeating radical Islamists is difficult militarily and often innocent civilians are killed too.
In the midst of the violence, people flee their homes.
Tens of thousands of Christians are trapped in the Kurdish-controlled north of Iraq, unable to go back to cities like Mosul which are in IS hands.
Because these people have not crossed a national border, they are not eligible for the modest assistance the Australian government is offering to religious minorities who are victims of IS.
In meetings at the Parliament, ACL has been making the case for flexibility. There’s still a long way to go but this is important work and we won’t give up.
Syria’s neighbour Lebanon is in crisis with some two million refugees from the four-year-old civil war where Christians were targeted by Islamist groups before anyone had heard of IS.
While Australia has offered 7000 more places to refugees over the next four years, the scale of the crisis demands a more generous response.
Australia takes just 13,700 refugees per annum (plus now the 7000 over four years) and while this is high on a per capita basis, we could do much more.
Solidarity with the persecuted must go beyond a Facebook profile upgrade and even prayers in church (and we must keep these up).
Last year 20,000 ACL supporters signed a petition calling on the government to increase the humanitarian intake.
We will be working in coming weeks to step up our efforts for policy change. I hope you will help