Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Christians in the Middle East: Egypt

The Middle East is the birthplace of Christianity and home to some of the world's most ancient Christian denominations. But Christian communities across the region are declining in numbers because of a combination of low birth rates, emigration and, in some places, persecution and violence. Here are some Facts about Egypt in which Christian persecution is a common practice.

Most Christians in Egypt are Copts - Christians descended from the ancient Egyptians.
  • Total pop: 84.5m
  • Christians: 8.9m (est)
  • 10.5% of total pop
  • Main Church: Coptic Orthodox
  • Issues: Anti-Christian violence; political instability
  • Sources: World Christian Database; UN
Their Church split from the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches in 451AD because of a theological dispute over the nature of Christ, but is now, on most issues, doctrinally similar to the Eastern Orthodox Church.
The Coptic language - a derivative of the ancient Egyptian language, written mainly in the Greek alphabet - is still used for small parts of services.
Christian-Muslim relations have deteriorated in recent years, with outbreaks of violence by radical Islamists against Christians and their places of worship.
Egyptian Christians have accused the post-Mubarak governing military council of being too lenient on the perpetrators of the attacks.
Copts also complain of discrimination, including a law requiring presidential permission for churches to be built.
A plethora of other Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant and Armenian Churches are present in smaller numbers in Egypt.

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