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ICC Note: It seems that Christian persecution across the Middle East is only ever worsening. While cases of persecution in Iraq and Syria occur on very grand scales, the small yet consistent attacks against Copts in Egypt are proving to be a systemic problem for the country. Human rights violations, especially those against religious minorities, have always been an issue for the North African country. Now, under the military regime of al-Sisi, what seemed to be an anti-sectarian reprieve is actually proving to be worsening conditions for the 10 percent Christians living in Egypt.

04/19/2016 Egypt (Forbes): The Middle East has turned hostile to Christians and other religious minorities. The Iraqi Christian community has been devastated. Syria’s civil war loosed the murderous Islamic State on Christians and others. Libya’s disintegration opened the nation to IS fighters bent on killing anyone of the wrong faith.

Also at risk are Egypt’s Copts, who make up about ten percent of that country’s population. Coptic Christians predate Islam and played an important role in Egypt’s development. But they long suffered from discrimination and persecution.

The Middle East has turned hostile to Christians and other religious minorities. The Iraqi Christian community has been devastated. Syria’s civil war loosed the murderous Islamic State on Christians and others. Libya’s disintegration opened the nation to IS fighters bent on killing anyone of the wrong faith.

Also at risk are Egypt’s Copts, who make up about ten percent of that country’s population. Coptic Christians predate Islam and played an important role in Egypt’s development. But they long suffered from discrimination and persecution.

Under dictator Hosni Mubarak the U.S. State Department called the status of religious liberty “poor” and noted that Christians and Baha’is faced “personal and collective discrimination, especially in government employment and their ability to build, renovate, and repair places of worship.”  Moreover, explained State, the government “sometimes arrested, detained, and harassed” those “whose beliefs and/or practices it deemed to deviate from mainstream Islamic beliefs and whose activities it alleged to jeopardize communal harmony.”

At times state-controlled media and -funded mosques encouraged violence. Attacks on Copts were common and perpetrators rarely were prosecuted. Indeed, victims sometimes were arrested too. The government also failed to respond seriously to the kidnapping of Christian girls who were forced to marry Muslims.

Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East have few good options. Unfortunately, Coptic reliance on Egypt’s al-Sisi increasingly looks like a bad deal. He is delivering little of the secularism that was supposed to accompany his dictatorship. Worse, his brutal repression violates Christian principles and risks triggering another revolution, one in which Copts might find themselves to be targets. Now is the time to search for a new approach that doesn’t sacrifice national liberty for sectarian security.

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