SYDNEY – An attack on Australian Greeks while riding on a train through a predominantly Muslim section of Sydney was reported by the Sydney-based Daily Telegraph – a News Corp outlet unrelated to the Telegraph Media Group newspaper– as an anti-Christian bias attack.
Mike, who feared being targeted for speaking out and withheld his last name, told the Daily Telegraph that four men of “Middle Eastern appearance” ripped his cross off his neck, stomped on it, and then kicked and punched his face, back, and shoulders. Two women attacked his girlfriend when she tried to intervene.
Five uniformed transport officers watched what happened but did nothing to stop it, Mike said, leaving the police to meet the train at a later station.
“I was born in Australia of Greek heritage,” Mike said as reported in the Telegraph. “I’ve always worn my cross. For [them] to rip it off and step on it has to be a religious crime … It’s not on to feel unsafe in your own country.”
Mike contacted Greek community leader and former Sutherland Shire Council deputy mayor Reverend George Capsis, who believes Christians in Sydney are facing increasing persecution by Muslim gangs.
“This is not an isolated incident,” said Rev. Capsis, who explained that Mike was the fourth Christian to contact him about a religiously-motivated attack in the last six months, as reported in the Telegraph.
“There are gangs of these young fellows of Muslim background who have been harassing people they identify as Christian … You don’t hear about it because no one’s reporting it.”
The three previous victims who went to Rev Capsis said they were also assaulted around public transport in the south-west of Sydney, as Mike and his girlfriend were.
“It’s like their territory,” he said. “They don’t want Christians or other types of infidels there.”
The minister believes that the problem has to be “nipped in the bud” but, in the absence of any strong action from authorities, he can only advise Christians to hide their faith in the presence of Muslims, so they do not feel “provoked,” as reported by the Telegraph.
“People like Greek Orthodox carry a big cross,” he explained. “I tell them to be practical and if they’re in those areas and wearing a big cross and a group of young guys comes, hide it in your shirt. Why provoke it?”
A police spokesman said: “The incident [had] prompted police to remind the community that any bias-motivated crime will not be tolerated.” He said the incident was still under investigation.
Sydney Trains defended the transport officers who did not intervene in the attack, their chief responsibility is stopping fare evasion and that they are trained to observe from a “safe space” if passengers are assaulted, as reported in the Telegraph.
“It’s a multicultural society. I don’t attack anyone’s beliefs but if they attack me for no reason, justice has to be served,” Mike told the Telegraph.
Rev. Capsis believes that, “If this keeps up, someone will be hurt. It’s got to be nipped in the bud.”