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Report on the Plight of Christians in Egypt


Copts are native Egyptian Christians, mainly Orthodox, who currently make up around 10% of the population of Egypt — the largest religious minority of that country. While Copts have cited instances of harassment throughout their history, human rights groups have noted “growing religious intolerance” and sectarian violence against Coptic Christians in recent years, and a failure by the Egyptian government to effectively investigate properly and prosecute those responsible.

Christian Copts are under severe pressure and siege, and usually live in fear for their lives. Christian girls get kidnapped by shadowy Muslim groups and lured into Muslim marriages, while the state looks the other way.

Copts face discrimination and marginalization on many levels. They are minimally represented in law enforcement, state security and public office, and are being discriminated against in the workforce on the basis of their religion. The Coptic community, as well as several human rights activists and intellectuals, note that the number of Christians occupying Government posts is not proportional to the number of Copts in Egypt. They are also the victims of discriminatory religious laws, anti-Christian judges, and anti-Christian state police. Anti-Christian laws include laws governing repairing old churches or constructing new ones, which are usually impossible tasks, requiring presidential permission to build a new church, and a governor’s permission to renovate even the bathroom in an already-built church. Anti-Christian judges tend to “legislate from the bench”. An example includes an Egyptian court’s refusal to grant Muslim Egyptians who convert to Christianity identity cards that display their new religion. In Egypt the government does not officially recognize conversions from Islam to Christianity; also certain interfaith marriages are not allowed either. This prevents marriages between converts to Christianity and those born in Christian communities, and also results in the children of Christian converts being classified as Muslims and given a Muslim education. While, converting to Islam does not even require going to court.

Copts are denied equal opportunities in recruitment and promotion. Very few are appointed to key positions in the government, and political parties almost never choose Coptic candidates for parliamentary positions. In addition, enrollment of Copts in police academies and military schools is heavily restricted. Along the same lines, very few Copts are granted positions as school teachers or university professors.

Present Situation

Copts are on the receiving end of anti-Christian hate crimes, the number of which has been rising since the 1970s. Since President Mubarak took office in 1981, more than 1,500 violent attacks against Copts left thousands of Christians killed and injured. The violent anti-Christian attacks in Upper Egypt during the 1990s forced thousands of Copts to flee to larger cities in Egypt or to immigrate. The last 20 years witnessed a dramatic increase in the scale of anti-Christian hate crimes.

Today, Fundamentalism has reached a peak and allowed an ugly atmosphere of fanaticism to prevail in the country which has been translated into acts of violence targeting the Christian population, the worst of which were;

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