The federal government is to consider visa extensions for Egyptians affected by a fresh outbreak of violence targeting Coptic Christians in their homeland.
Created on Tuesday, 11 October 2011 11:35
Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said on Tuesday Egyptian nationals in Australia
affected by events in Cairo
would have their cases treated sympathetically.
"In light of the unfolding situation in Egypt
, I want to assure Egyptians in Australia that my department will take the circumstances in their home country into account when dealing with requests for visa extensions," Mr Bowen said in a statement.
He encouraged all Egyptian nationals unable to fly home or on temporary visas to contact the Department of Immigration and Citizenship on 131 881 as soon as possible.
Sectarian clashes in Cairo have killed 25 people, mostly Christian Copts, and injured about 300.
Mr Bowen and Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd earlier told Labor caucus they were keeping an eye on the situation.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) on Tuesday reissued its travel advice for Egypt, warning of the increase in sectarian tensions.
"Australians should be aware that Islamist extremists have made threats against Coptic churches in Egypt," the department said.
Australian Christian Lobby head Jim Wallace called on the government to condemn the violence in stronger terms.
"The Australian government should demand that the Egyptian authorities guarantee religious freedom and protection of the Copts and other religious minorities," Mr Wallace said.