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Coptic Diaspora shaken by violent attacks on fellow Coptic Christians in Egypt; fear revolution won’t change deep-rooted discrimination against Christians
ICC Note:
“Seventy-five percent of all permanent Egyptian emigrants in the period 1990-1996 were Christians; meaning the emigration rate among the Copts was thirty times higher than their Muslim counterparts,” Al Ahram reports.
By Dina Samir
10/17/2011 Egypt (Al Ahram) – “Even if you are a Christian, you should cover your hair,” Rania Assad, an Egyptian Christian living now in Oman, was told by a professor at the Cairo University School of Medicine 12 years ago. Assad explained that despite living for six years in another Muslim country, she had never experienced inequality similar to what Copts endure in Egypt. “Any country prefers its citizens over foreigners in a way; and foreigners are free to leave if they do not like that. Yet, the problem is that foreign countries treat us better than our homeland does,” Assad said.
Thousands of Copts have emigrated from Egypt annually during the last few decades. A study entitled, ‘Integrating into a Multicultural Society – The case of the Copts in the US’ by Fouad and Barbara Ibrahim, indicated that the size of the Coptic Diaspora was nearly one million in 2008, three quarters of them in the USA. In addition, seventy-five percent of all permanent Egyptian emigrants in the period 1990-1996 were Christians; meaning the emigration rate among the Copts was thirty times higher than their Muslim counterparts.
Nevine Amin, a sociology Ph.D. student at the University of Texas at Austin who has researched Copts living in the US, explained that among the main causes of the spike in Christian emigration from Egypt and other Arab countries during the last 30 years was their exclusion from senior positions in academia, government, and medicine; and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism.
Like Egyptians around the world, the Coptic Diaspora followed the January 25 Revolution with a mix of feelings. “I was excited, proud, and concerned; democracy is usually very expensive,” said Ragae Ghabrial, who immigrated to the US with his parents 15 years ago.
The series of recent attacks against Copts, as well as the current turbulent situation in Egypt, has shaken the hope for a better Egypt among the Coptic Diaspora. “The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has neither been responsive to the legitimate demands of Egyptians nor wise in dealing with the violent attacks against Copts,” said Shirin Emil, 28. Emil, who initially planned to return to Egypt with her family after her husband finishes his job assignment in Italy, is now unsure whether they should go back home.
Echoing similar discontent, Rafaat Said, who emigrated from Egypt to the US 14 years ago, asked, “How come the army that should be prepared for fighting our enemy on the borders cannot protect churches or peaceful demonstrators.”
However, those attacks are no surprise to Said, “There is a culture of hatred and exclusion rooted in Egypt. The revolution’s success will not change some people’s fanatic attitudes,” he explained.

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