The Copts

The Copts are a minority Christian denomination in Egypt, 8-10% of the population. They are Egyptian, in fact they are very authentically Egyptian, tracing their descent prior to the Muslim invasion and conquest of Egypt.  It is therefore a cruel irony that the Muslim extremists and many ordinary Muslims seek to oust them completely from what they consider to be part of the Muslim Empire, in which there should be no infidels (Christians, Jews, Hindus, or any non-Muslim).  Although the Copts speak Arabic, they use a variant of the original Egyptian language, Coptic, in their religious services and liturgy. In that respect they are more authentically Egyptian than the Arabs, something that irks the Islamists. 

Last week there were two serious terrorist attacks against the Copts, their Church in Tanta north of Cairo was bombed, killing 36 and injuring 100, and the same day their Cathedral in Alexandria was bombed by a suicide bomber.  Although their Pope Tawadros was present at the time, he was not injured.  In that attack 4 were killed and 20 injured.  Added to the attack on the Cathedral in Cairo last December, this represents a sustained campaign by IS to kill and intimidate Coptic Christians and to get them to leave Egypt.  

Many Copts will take the “hint” and leave, which will add to the flow of refugees from Muslim countries, although these are perhaps the largest population of Christians left in the Middle East.  Christians in Syria and Iraq have been decimated during the current wars, and Christians in the Palestinian areas have been forced to leave.  Bethlehem which was 80% Christian 25 years ago is now only 20% Christian, and there are very few Christians left in Gaza after the bombing of their Churches.  It is surprising that the Christian West does essentially nothing to protect these Christians, as the French used to do in Lebanon.  

The plight of the Copts results largely from the inability of Pres. Al-Sisi to manage to control Egypt.  The Islamists are constantly carrying out terrorist attacks and he seems unable to use the Army and the police to maintain control.  This is largely to be blamed on Pres. Obama who refused to give Al- Sisi support when he needed it against the Muslim Brotherhood, that might have nipped the insurgency in the bud before it became uncontrollable.

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