Syrian Christians prioritized over Muslims in Australia's refugee program

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turbull's government has prioritized persecuted Syrian Christian refugees over their Muslim counterparts in a program that provides homes to 10,000 asylum seekers who have passed a stringent screening process.

(REUTERS / David Gray)Refugee advocates hold a banner during a protest in central Sydney, Australia, October 5, 2016 calling for the closure of the Australian detention centres located in Nauru and Manus Island.

The Australian government has now issued the 12,000 visas previously promised to Syrian refugees and is set to resettle the asylum seekers mostly in New South Wales. Although it seems Prime Minister Turnbull has not yet revealed the religious composition of the resettled refugees, the Daily Telegraph has learned that around three quarters of the migrants who were processed were persecuted Christians.

The refugees in the resettlement program had to go through a strict security screening process to make sure that no radicalized foreign fighters make their way into Australia. The program, which was first announced by former prime minister Tony Abbott, was previously met with opposition by those who are against prioritizing refugees of any religion.

"Being a victim of war doesn't know a particular religion," said Opposition Leader Bill Shorten of Abbott's plan to prioritize Christian refugees."If you're a woman facing terrible crimes to be committed against you, if you're a child, a little child, potentially drowning at sea, I'm not interested in their religion, I'm interested in their safety."

Former premier Mike Baird had also offered to provide homes for refugees fleeing violence in the Middle East. He agreed to resettle 6,000 Syrian refugees and promised to generate 100 jobs for them in the public sector.

In December, The Australian columnist Angela Shanahan called on the Australian government to take in more Christian refugees fleeing persecution in the Middle East. She said many refugees who are merely fleeing war have the chance to return to their homeland, but these Christians can never return.

Shanahan also highlighted the potential eradication of Christianity in the faith's cradle in the Middle East. For her, not taking into account a refugee's religion is "blind" obedience to Australia's immigration policy, and added that their country cannot ignore religion when processing resettlement of asylum seekers because these people fled their country because of religious persecution.

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