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ICC Note: The article focuses on the specific persecution in four different countries around the world. Each nation has its own forms of religious restrictions. In Egypt, Copts are often excluded from society and socially targeted for their beliefs. In Pakistan, blasphemy laws target Christians and end many believers in jail or on death row. In China the surveillance and communist atheist repression is very real but is also a driving force for the growth of the church. In Israel, there have been aimed and specific acts of terrorism and vandalism against churches in the historic land.

07-27-2015 Egypt/Pakistan/China/Israel (The Guardian):

 Egypt: ‘It pushes you to feel disengaged’

As a boy growing up in a country where football is a national passion, Mina Fayek joined a youth programme at a local sports club in the wealthy Cairo neighbourhood of Heliopolis. He started training, but one day he overheard his coach make an offhand remark: no Christians would join the first team, or make it to the championships

“My parents and I knew this is not going anywhere, and I had to choose another game,” Fayek, 26, a software engineer and blogger, recalled. He tried handball and basketball, two sports seen as more acceptable for Egyptian Christians to play.

Fayek, an affable young man, believes his social status shielded him from the worst forms of persecution inflicted on poorer Egyptian Christians. Instead, he was subject to a more subtle form of discrimination: the sense that the highest echelons of power and status in his country were off limits because of his religion.

During his 13 months of compulsory military service, he trained soldiers and officers in computer skills. As a Coptic Christian, he knew he could never serve in the intelligence branch. No Christians sit on the supreme council of armed forces.

“It pushes you to feel disengaged from your country,” Fayek said. “How could someone maintain his love for his country – and be passionate about building it – while at the same time he can’t be whatever he wants to be, whether a military commander or a police commander.”

Egypt is home to the largest Christian community in the Middle East, with the Copts widely estimated to be about 10% of the population. The exact figure is a matter of dispute, with the government and Coptic church offering varying estimates. In spite of a history of cooperation between the church and the Egyptian state, Copts today say they face both official discrimination and the threat of violent attacks by militants.

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