Religious Tensions in Egypt

The Middle East Times has an interesting article about the increasing religious tensions between the country’s Muslims and its Coptic Christians.

Still, to say that Egypt’s Christian Copts — 16 million in a country of 81.7 million — have coexisted peacefully with the Muslim majority may be stretching the truth. While the two communities have largely gotten along over the years, there have been periodic clashes, some of them violent, some of them leaving many dead and wounded.

Ever since the Muslims became the majority in Egypt around the middle of the first century, Egypt’s Christians and followers of St. Mark the apostle and evangelist, known as Copts, found themselves relegated to the position of second-class citizens. Their situation began to improve in the early 19th century under the stability and tolerance brought to the country under the dynasty of Mohammad Ali.

Yet, despite Egypt’s generally more moderate approach to religion when compared with other Muslim countries — such as Saudi Arabia, for example — strife between the country’s Muslim and Christian communities will periodically make the headlines.

Ahmad al-Aswani, an Egyptian writer, posted on June 7 an essay on the liberal Web site Aafaq.org, in which he sheds light on a series of escalating attacks on members of the Copts community.

“What is happening to our Coptic brothers … is no longer a matter of sporadic incidents,” writes al-Aswani. “It is open season on Egypt’s Copts,” said the Egyptian writer in a dispatch translated from Arabic by the Middle East Media Research Institute.

“It is no longer a matter of sporadic incidents,” said al-Aswani.

Read the rest of the article for examples of the violence that Muslims have committed against Christians.

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