The Coptic Christian community in Egypt has been facing religious persecution for decades. The struggle against oppression and discrimination continues to this day, despite efforts by the government and international communities to address the issue.
The Copts are an ancient community that traces its roots back to the first century AD when St. Mark brought Christianity to Egypt. They make up approximately 10% of Egypt’s population but have long suffered from discrimination and marginalization at the hands of their Muslim neighbors.
In recent years, attacks on Coptic Christians have increased dramatically. In December 2016, a suicide bomber targeted a church in Cairo during Sunday mass, killing 29 people and injuring dozens more. This was just one of many incidents over the years that saw churches burned, worshippers attacked or killed, and homes destroyed.
The Egyptian government has taken steps to try and combat this violence but has not always been successful in protecting its citizens. For example, after the bombing in December 2016, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi promised swift justice for those responsible but little action was taken afterward.
One issue is that many police officers themselves hold anti-Copt sentiments which makes it difficult for them to provide adequate protection or respond effectively when an attack occurs. Additionally, there is a lack of accountability for those who commit crimes against Copts which creates a culture of impunity where attackers can act without fear of punishment.
Discrimination also extends beyond physical violence into everyday life. Employers may refuse to hire Copts or promote them within their companies while landlords may choose not to rent apartments or houses out to them as well.
These issues are compounded by broader societal attitudes towards religious minorities in Egypt where Muslims often see themselves as superior with greater rights than non-Muslims like the Copts.
However, there are organizations working tirelessly both inside and outside Egypt trying to advocate for change on behalf of persecuted Christians around the world including those in Egypt such as Open Doors USA, Amnesty International and Christian Solidarity Worldwide.
One positive step was taken recently when the Egyptian government passed a law in 2016 easing restrictions on building churches. This means that Copts no longer have to go through lengthy bureaucratic procedures or bribes to get permission from local authorities which often denied them permission to build new places of worship.
Despite this progress, much more needs to be done. The international community must continue to pressure Egypt’s leaders to take action against those who commit crimes against Coptic Christians as well as work with civil society organizations such as Open Doors USA and others in supporting victims of persecution.
Additionally, education is needed for both Muslims and non-Muslims alike about what religious freedom entails and why it is important for democracy and human rights more broadly. This includes addressing any biases or prejudices held towards religious minorities like the Copts.
In conclusion, the persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt is an ongoing issue that deserves greater attention both locally and internationally. While some progress has been made over recent years, much more still needs to be done if we are ever going to see true equality for all Egyptians regardless of their religion or ethnicity.