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Pages tagged "Syria"
MR: Refugee intake should give greater weight to vulnerable minorities
· July 04, 2013 10:00 AM
Thursday, 4th July, 2013
The Australian Christian Lobby has renewed calls for Australia’s humanitarian intake to give greater weighting to vulnerable minorities, particularly those displaced by the conflict in Syria and the wider Middle East.
Managing Director Lyle Shelton said the debate opened up this week by the new Rudd Cabinet about the refugee program is an opportunity to again assess whether vulnerable ethnic and religious minorities were getting a fair go.
“A fresh look at our humanitarian program by the new leadership is warranted in order to ensure public confidence in it,” Mr Shelton said.
ACL supported the Government increasing the intake from 13,000 per year to 20,000 per year.
“There are around 1,000,000 Syrian refugees in Lebanon including those from vulnerable Syrian minority groups such as Alawites, Christians and Druze. Many of these have lost confidence in the UNHCR processes and were not registering because it locked them into a slow and arduous process.
“ACL would like to see some flexibility in our humanitarian program so that an allocation could be made for some of these people,” Mr Shelton said.
“ACL believes a greater weighting system should be applied to vulnerable persecuted minorities to ensure that they have a fair chance of being eligible for placement in Australia.
“It is important that our humanitarian program is calibrated towards people who are in the greatest need,” Mr Shelton said.
In the media - a wrap up of the last week's commentary
· June 06, 2013 10:00 AM
In the last week, the ACL has been quoted in the media on the persecution of Christians in Syria, and on marriage. See below for links to mentions in the media.
ABC Religion and Ethics -
In defence of the defenceless: Bonhoeffer and same-sex marriage, once again
- an opinion piece by ACL's Managing Director, Lyle Shelton
On the persecution of Syrian Christians:
The Christian Post -
Syrian Syriac National Council Urges Support of Christians in the Country
Virtue Online -
We cannot abandon Syrian Christians
y of an essay written by ACL's Jim Wallace)
Dr Mark Durie on the Political Spot about persecution of Syrian Christians
· June 04, 2013 10:00 AM
Dr Mark Durie is a Melbourne Anglican Vicar and an Associate Fellow at the Middle Eastern Forum. In this interview with the ACL's Katherine Spackman Dr Durie talks about a recent prayer walk in Jordan where a Dutch man met some Christian refugees in Syria who talked about how they came to flee their homes. Read Dr Durie's related blog post about it
The Dhimma Returns to Syria.
ACL's Jim Wallace writes in The Australian about persecuted Christians in Syria
· May 29, 2013 10:00 AM
The Australian Christian Lobby's deputy chairman Jim Wallace had an opinion piece published in The Australian recently. A copy of the opinion piece is published below but can be read online
. An extended version of Mr Wallace's piece was also published in MercatorNet called
We cannon abandon Syrian Christians
West must act decisively to protect Syria's persecuted Christians
THE hardest test of foreign policy is not its intersections at the lofty geopolitical level but where it inevitably affects ordinary people, and nowhere is this test as difficult as in the Middle East.
As I visited the area recently to assess the situation of minorities in the Syrian conflict, it quickly became evident that the West's policy there courts a disaster.
I was not surprised. While my experience was dated, I had lived in the Middle East and observed some of its most enduring conflicts. Unfortunately, the passage of time seems to have taught us little.
Some level of confusion about Middle East politics is excusable for anyone.
Attempts to decipher it are always muddied by a bewildering array of sects and agendas in the context of alliances of convenience, even between sworn enemies.
But surely an alliance with al-Qa'ida is beyond the pale for any US government, even if its purpose is to counter Iran's influence.
The pictures of the American family devastated by the Boston bomb would be enough for me, but the US State Department certainly hasn't considered Syria's Christian minorities adequately.
There are reports of heartbreak as people who lived in harmony for decades are suddenly turned into bitter enemies by the radicalisation of previously moderate Sunnis under the influence of the al-Qa'ida proxy Jabhat al-Nusra.
Syria has always been somewhat unusual in the Arab world for its secularism and religious freedom.
When I lived in Damascus for six months, Christian churches were easy to find and join. There was also a ready acceptance by Muslims and Druze, many of whom became good friends. And it seems this continued to be the case until the revolution two years ago. Then cries of "Alawites out" and "Christians to Lebanon" suddenly filled the air in crowds stirred up by extremists.
For Christians to be thrown out of Syria after more than 2000 years of history is too much for most. Despite the steady flow of refugees, most will stay. But the cost of staying is extreme.
Al-Nusra empties any area it captures of the "infidels". Occupants of centuries-old Christian quarters in the ancient cities of Aleppo, Hama and Homs have been turned out of their homes with nothing. The aged are not spared and those refusing to leave are sometimes killed.
Also heartbreaking for these ancient communities is that their churches in the occupied parts of these cities have been destroyed and desecrated, at least one being used as a toilet by al-Nusra, as an illustration of its utter contempt for Christianity.
There are some Christians fighting with the Free Syrian Army. Although they were part of an initially secular opposition, their position becomes increasingly tenuous as al-Nusra's dominance of the opposition increases by the day.
As always in war, it is perhaps the women who suffer most.
Al-Nusra fighters see Christian women as little more than booty. One woman tearfully told of a friend considering suicide as she contemplated the possibility of rape, which two of her friends had suffered. As a Christian in an al-Nusra-held area, she knew she risked the same fate.
These are ancient Christian communities that look to Western governments not to abandon them by pursuing irrational policies, including a partnership with foreign jihadists allied to al-Qa'ida.
It is long past time for the West to make a stand in two other areas that are essential to combating Muslim extremism at home and abroad.
The first is that Saudi Arabia and Qatar, which are funding the extremist al-Qa'ida fighters, must be told to back off.In addition we cannot accept that as many as 200 Australians might be fighting for al-Qa'ida in Syria as part of a contingent of foreign fighters drawn from Western and Middle Eastern Islamic communities.
All Western countries must pass and enforce anti-mercenary laws that will forbid their nationals from fighting as mercenaries without losing their nationality.
We have an army to fight our wars and joining it should be the only way for an Australian to become a combatant.
The so-called Arab Spring was never going to be that for anyone but extremists across the Middle East. Unless the West reconsiders its support to an opposition dominated by al-Qa'ida, vulnerable Syrian Christians will face even worse persecution than that experienced by Egypt's Copts.
Jim Wallace is deputy chairman of the Australian Christian Lobby.
Jim Wallace on the Political Spot about his trip to the Middle East to look at persecution of minorities
· May 14, 2013 10:00 AM
Jim Wallace is the deputy chairman of the Australian Christian Lobby. In this interview with the ACL's Katherine Spackman, Mr Wallace talks about his recent trip to the Middle East where he assessed the situation of minorities in the Syrian conflict. He says that Christians are vulnerable to both sides of the conflict and that the Syrian opposition is being radicalised by previously moderate Sunnis under the influence of the Al Qaeda proxy Al Nusra. He says there are reports that as many as 200 Australians might be fighting for Al Qaeda in Syria and urges western countries to pass Anti-Mercenary laws that will forbid nationals from fighting as mercenaries.
Vic Director Letter to Supporters - April 2013
· April 14, 2013 10:00 AM
The Victorian Director Dan Flynn’s letter to supporters in the state is now available online.
Two significant events have now kicked off in Victoria: the AFL football season and the federal election campaign.
September will bring us both a grand final and a federal election.
Over the last 12 months, it has been a privilege working with church leaders and Christians as we seek to positively influence government.
to continue reading.
Elizabeth Kendal on the Political Spot
· February 19, 2013 11:00 AM
Elizabeth Kendal is a religious liberty analyst. The ACL's Katherine Spackman spoke to her about the conflict in the middle Eastern country of Syria that's been going on for two years. The UN estimated 70,000 people have died as a result of the conflict between the Syrian Army and rebel forces.
Elizabeth Kendal on The Political Spot
· November 13, 2012 11:00 AM
Elizabeth Kendal is a researcher at the Melbourne School of Theology and a religious liberty expert. She spoke with Daniel Simon about the civil war in Syria.
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