Miranda Devine reports for Daily Telegraph that at about 3 p.m. on April 4, 2017, while traveling with his girlfriend on the train from Campsie to Bankstown in southwestern Sydney, a 30-year-old Greek Orthodox Christian named Mike (he doesn’t want his last name made public due to safety concerns) was assaulted by four Middle Eastern men.
Mike says he was minding his own business talking on his mobile phone, when four young men of Middle Eastern appearance violently ripped the crucifix off his neck and stomped on it, while swearing “F*** Jesus” and referring to “Allah”. The men then punched Mike and kicked him in his face, back and shoulders.
When his girlfriend tried to defend him, two Arabic-speaking women hit and kicked her.
The crucifix, which Mike’s mother had given him, was bent, and the silver chain broken in two places. Mike says: “I was born in Australia of Greek heritage. I’ve always worn my cross. For him 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 has a doctor’s report cataloguing his injuries, which include abrasions and bruises on his face, left shoulder, and upper and lower back.
Mike says that five uniformed railway “Transport Officers” watched the attack and did nothing to help him, although police were waiting for the train when it reached Bankstown station.
Two police officers took the names of three alleged assailants and a statement from Mike, photographed his injuries, told him they would review CCTV footage from the train and that he should expect a letter in a month, which may require his attendance at court.
After the assault, Mike was so shaken up that he contacted Baptist minister Rev. George Capsis, a pillar of the local Greek community and former deputy mayor of Sutherland Shire Council.
According to Rev. Capsis, Mike is the fourth Christian who has complained to him of a religiously-motivated attack in the past six months. The other three attacks also were in public transport, in southwest Sydney described by Capsis as Muslim territory — “It’s like their territory; they don’t want Christians or other types of infidels there.”
Rev. Capsis warns Christians not to wear overt religious symbols like the cross when they are traveling though Muslim enclaves of southwestern Sydney:
“This is not an isolated incident. 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. People like Greek Orthodox carry a big cross. 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? If this keeps up, someone will be hurt. It’s got to be nipped in the bud.”
A Sydney Trains spokesman defended the inaction of its Transport Officers, saying they are not authorized to intervene in assaults and that their primary responsibilities are customer service and fare evasion. If an incident takes place, such as the attack on Mike, the officers are trained to stand back in a “safe space” to observe, and contact police if necessary.
Mike says he and his girlfriend are now too scared to catch the train.
Daily Telegraph points out that:
- There have been isolated reports of anti-Christian abuse in recent years, such as churchgoers in western Sydney getting death threats from men driving past in a car bearing the Islamic State flag.
- Christians also increasingly are fair game for intimidation by the militant LGBTI lobby.
- But Christophobia is downplayed by the authorities. As an example, when the Australian Christian Lobby was car-bombed late last year, police within hours declared that the attack was not religiously, ideologically or politically motivated.
- The only religious bigotry that is publicized is Islamophobia.