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Monday, 19 March 2012
Page: 3253

Mr ABBOTT ( Warringah Leader of the Opposition ) ( 14:23 ): I join the Prime Minister in mourning the passing of Pope Shenouda, the spiritual leader of the eight million Copts in Egypt and of tens of thousands of Copts here in Australia. He served for 40 years. He was well loved and well respected. Pope Shenouda has died at a difficult time for the Coptic community. The Arab Spring has certainly turned out to be more of an autumn than a spring for Egypt's Copts.

A democracy must be judged not by how effectively it implements the will of the majority but how effectively it protects the rights of the minority. I hope that the Egyptian government and people will pass that test. This, in any event, is what I am sure the late Pope Shenouda would have wanted and what we too should want as we mourn his passing at this time.

The SPEAKER: As a mark of respect, I invite all present to rise in their places.

Honourable members having stood in their places—

The SPEAKER: I thank the House.

Debate adjourned.