Egypt’s forgotten Copts


By Angela Shanahan, MercatorNet

Coptic Christians have been in Egypt for 2,000 years. Why is the Western media ignoring the peril they face?

A disturbing feature of the crisis in Egypt has been the paucity of any discussion of the implications of the possible rise of fanatical Islamists for Christians, particularly the sizeable Coptic Christian population, estimated at between 10-15 percent of the Egyptian population. The few vague references to their fate were generally voiced as an afterthought to reflections on the repression of women.
This puzzling gap is characteristic of Western analysts who respond only to political and economic explanations. But these have little to do with the deeper social historical complexities of the Middle East and everything to do with religion and the culture. Western analysts seldom understand the importance of religion. Unless conflict has an overt political face it is usually a mystery to them. Yet Christians were out on the street with their fellow Egyptians when Mubarak was ousted, desperate to ward off an Islamic take-over.
In fact the persecution of Copts has intensified over the past 20 years even though few in the West have paid attention to it.
The Copts are the descendants of the original Pharonaic Egyptians and their liturgical language is the closest thing we have to demotic Egyptian spoken in Roman times. Christianity was introduced by the Evangelist Mark as early as 42 AD and flourished for hundreds of years. The Christian monastic tradition began in Egypt. In fact Islam did not dominate Egypt until the end of the 12th century.

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