It is very hard to believe that in the 21st century, security and equality for Christians in Egypt is still a dream. The Copts are the largest minority in the world without rights!
According to the New York Times, in an article published on May 20, 1962, the Coptic population was around four million out of 27 million in Egypt. That is around 15 percent of the total population. According to a Freedom House report in 1999, the Coptic community of some 6 to 10 million is by far the largest Christian grouping in the Middle East.
What kind of discrimination face Copts living in Egypt?
1. Prevention of church construction, thereby suppressing Coptic worship and expression.
2. The absence of justice for persecuted Copts. Hundreds have been killed, injured or made victims of vandalized property in wide-scale attacks following Friday Muslim prayers. No one has ever been recognized, held accountable, or punished for these heinous acts against Copts.
3. The kidnapping, drugging and raping of Coptic girls as young as 14-years-old. Just in case, the aforementioned torture was not sufficient, they are forced to convert to Islam with the blessing and sponsorship of Al-Azhar (the largest Islamic institution in Egypt).
4. The publication of offensive, degrading anti-Christian material by publicly owned newspapers and television channels. Copts who demand the right to religious freedom in Egypt have been labeled traitors and infidels in public media outlets.
5. The unjustly withheld salaries of the Christian clergy by the regime, whereas mosques, Islamic institutions and universities are funded by taxpayers. Churches and Christian institutions are denied access to any government fund.
6. The fact that Copts are denied high profile jobs in the police, army, legal system, local authorities, etc. Additionally, since Muslims mostly own private businesses, Copts are denied occupations within the private sector as well.
7. Courts impose unfair sentences, along with enhanced penalties against Copts because of their Christian faith.
My opinion is if the discrimination continues and the Coptic community loses all types of protection from the Egyptian government and the global community, it will cause individuals to leave the country. In addition to leaving, there will be a lot of violence against Copts; so many people will become victims. These two factors will cause the future to fade away for the Coptic community in Egypt.
How can you stop the violence?
First, the education system needs a lot of improvement. Within the regular state system, problems arise in the general curriculum. For example, the history of the Copts in Egypt is almost entirely absent. Many ordinary Muslims know virtually nothing of the Copts and therefore assume they must be outsiders. The education system has to be updated to add the Coptic period in Egypt, so Muslims can know about Christians who share the classroom.
Second, the Egyptian government is complicit in creating a hostile atmosphere against Christians through the state-controlled media, schools and government agencies. The government needs to stop these acts, so Muslims can treat Christians friendly and without malice.
Many Egyptian Christians report that the police do not provide them with protection from violent attacks. Too often, the police are complicit with the local extremists who practice the jizya. The police have to offer justice and equality in dealing with all Egyptian citizens.
The legal system is increasingly incorporating Islamic law. For example, Sharia law in Egypt denies equal rights to Christians and Muslims in areas of conversion, marriage and parenting. Also, courts impose unfair sentences, along with enhanced penalties against Copts because of their Christian faith.