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ICC Note:

Islamic oppression is the driving force of persecution of Christians in Egypt, with three segments of society responsible for this persecution: non-Christian religious leaders, violent religious groups, and citizens who form mobs. In other words, every segment of Egyptian society is a significant driver of persecution. This leaves Egypt’s Christians isolated from their countrymen and vulnerable to attacks. Last year, attacks against Christians rose significantly, leading Open Doors to rank Egypt has the 17th worst nation out of 200 to be a Christian.


01/30/2018 Egypt (Front Page Magazine) –   For another consecutive year in a row, Egypt has proven to be an inhospitable place for Christians, namely its most indigenous inhabitants, the Copts.  According to Open Doors, a human rights organization that closely follows the treatment of Christians around the world, Egypt is the 17th worst nation (out of nearly 200) wherein to be Christian; there, Christians experience “very high” level of “persecution.”[1]

“Islamic oppression” is the premiere driving force of this persecution.  As the report explains:

Islamic oppression (Very strong): In Egypt, Islamic oppression operates in different ways. Islamic culture sustains a view in Egyptian society whereby Christians are regarded as second-class citizens. This view causes the discrimination of Christians in the political realm and their dealing with the state. It also creates an environment in which the state is reluctant to respect and enforce the fundamental rights of Christians. In the family sphere, converts to Christianity face great pressure to renounce their faith. Christians also face pressure from Islamic oppression in their daily lives in their local neighborhood or at work. There have also been several violent attacks perpetrated by militant Islamic groups targeting Christians. Although the activity of such militant groups used to be largely concentrated in Sinai, during the WWL 2018 reporting period the number of attacks perpetrated by such groups in various parts of the country has increased.

Who, primarily, is behind this “Islamic oppression” of Copts?  According to the report, which surveyed a variety of societal classes, rating each from “Not at All” responsible, to responsible on a “Very Strong” level, two groups are “Strong[ly]” responsible: (1) “officials at any level from local to national” and (2) one’s “own (extended) family” (a reference to the persecution of apostates, on which more anon).

Three segments of society are “Very Strong[ly]” responsible for the persecution of Copts:  (1) “non-Christian religious leaders”—meaning Muslim clerics, sheikhs, imams, and the rest—“at any level from local to national”; (2) “violent religious groups,” naturally meaning violent Islamic groups, the Islamic State being only the most notorious; and (3) “Normal citizens (people from the general public), including mobs.”

In other words, Muslims from every rung of Egyptian society—from highly educated Muslim clerics, to members of Islamic organizations, to the volatile masses, “whose views are shaped by intolerant and radical imams”—are “Very Strong[ly]” responsible for and “significant drivers of persecution.”

“Government officials also act as drivers of persecution through their failure to vindicate the rights of Christians and also through their discriminatory acts which violate the fundamental rights of Christians.”  While authorities themselves are sometimes the persecutors—as when Muslim soldiers beat Christian soldiers to death on account of their faith, most recently in July 2017—they more often function as enablers, allowing a culture of impunity to thrive.

Muslim mob riots often flare out on the mere rumor that a Coptic man is involved with a Muslim woman, or that Copts are trying to build or renovate a church—or merely pray in their own homes; Christian homes and churches are often set aflame, and Christians are often left injured, sometimes killed.  Local authorities almost always respond with no arrests; and when the occasion of the uprising revolves around a church, authorities cite the incident as a “legitimate” reason not to open or renovate said church.

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For interviews with Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected]