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Coptic, literally: (Egyptian Christian) are native Egyptian Christians, usually Orthodox, who currently make up around 10% of the population of Egypt — the largest religious minority of that country. While Copts have cited instances of persecution throughout their history Human Rights Watch has noted "growing religious intolerance" and sectarian violence against Coptic Christians in recent years, and a failure by the Egyptian government to effectively investigate properly and prosecute those responsible

The immigrationof the Copts to Canada might have started as early as the late 1950s. Starting in the 1970s, Canada has been receiving a greater number of these immigrants, and the number of Coptic immigrants into Canada has been growing ever since. The first Coptic Orthodox Church established in North America was St. Mark's in Toronto, Canada.Currently, there are over 60 Coptic Orthodox churches in Canada—and counting


St. Mark the Evangelist is said to have founded the Holy Apostolic See of Alexandria and to have become its first Patriarch. Within 50 years of St. Mark's arrival in Alexandria, a fragment of New Testament writings appeared in Oxyrhynchus (Bahnasa),

Christianity was tolerated in the Roman Empire until AD 284, when the Emperor Diocletian persecuted and put to death a great number of Christians. This event became a watershed in the history of Egyptian Christianity, marking the beginning of a distinct Egyptian or Coptic Church. It became known as the 'Era of Martyrs' and is commemorated in the Coptic calendaring. By the end of the 4th century, it is estimated that the mass of the Egyptians had either embraced Christianity or were nominally Christian.

Islamic Era: The Arab-Muslim invasion of Egypt

The Muslim invasion of Egypt took place in AD 639. Despite the political upheaval, Egypt remained a mainly Christian land, although the gradual conversions to Islam over the centuries changed Egypt from a mainly Christian to a mainly Muslim country by the end of the 12th century.

This process was sped along by persecutions during and following the reign of the Fatimid caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah (reigned) AD 996–1021) and the Crusades, and also by the acceptance of Arabic as a liturgical language by the Pope of Alexandria Gabriel ibn-Turaik.

Modern era

In Egypt the government does not officially recognize conversions from Islam to Christianity; also certain interfaith marriages are not allowed either, this prevents marriages between converts to Christianity and those born in Christian communities, and also results in the children of Christian converts being classified as Muslims and given a Muslim education.

The government also requires permits for repairing churches or building new ones, which are often withheld. Foreign missionaries are allowed in the country only if they restrict their activities to social improvements and refrain from proselytizing.

In 2010, Israeli Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh wrote a piece for the Hudson Institute named "What About The Arab Apartheid?" in which he criticized the treatment of Christians in Egypt and the failure of Egyptian authorities to prosecute those who have committed crimes against Egyptian Christians.

Sectarian attacks since 1970

The last quarter of the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty first have seen deterioration in relations between Muslims and the Coptic minority in Egypt. This is seen in day-to-day interactions such as the insulting of Coptic priests by Muslim children, but also in much more serious events such as attacks on Coptic churches, monasteries, villages, homes and shops, particularly in Upper Egypt during the 1980 and 90s. From 1992 to 1998 Islamistextremists in Egypt are thought to have killed 127 Copts.

By the end of the 1990s, in Minya province "an ancient center of the Coptic faith", five churches, two charity organizations, and 38 mostly Christian-owned businesses had been burned. Witnesses described the destruction as having been carried out "by gangs of young Muslims wielding iron bars and Molotov cocktails and shouting `God is Great! The police have been accused of siding with the attackers in some of these cases. And in Southern Egypt, there were problems in which involves terrorists going into monasteries, harassing, capturing, and torturing monks (such as the 2008 attacks on the monks of the Monastery of Saint Fana).

Some observers have connected the robberies, extortion and "collection" of "taxes" from Copts to the belief by Islamists that the traditional Jizya poll tax on non-Muslims should be reinstituted. Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mustafa Mashhur expressed this belief in a 1997 interview. He also stated that while `we do not mind having Christians members in the People's Assembly [national legislature] ... the top officials, especially in the army, should be Muslims since we are a Muslim country," and Christians cannot be trusted to fight for Egypt against Christian foreigners. Statements by Muslim Brotherhood and Sadat further exacerbated the situation of non-Muslims (namely the Copts).

Recorded violations against Coptic the first Coptic Orthodox Church established in North America were St. Mark's in Toronto, Canada.Currently, there are over 30 Coptic Orthodox churches in Canada—and countingminority in Egypt

  • 1981, President Anwar Sadat, internally exiled the Coptic Pope Shenouda III accusing him of fomenting interconfessional strife. Sadat then chose five Coptic bishops and asked them to choose a new pope. They refused, and in 1985 President Hosni Mubarak restored Pope Shenouda III.
  • May 2010, The Wall Street Journal reported increasing "waves of mob assaults" by Muslims against Copts, forcing many Christians to flee their homes. Despite frantic calls for help, the police typically arrived after the violence was over. The police also coerced the Copts to accept "reconciliation" with their attackers to avoid prosecuting them, with no Muslims convicted for any of the attacks. Magazine reported on the fears of the Coptic population after the 2011 Egyptian revolution seeing that sectarian violence against Copts has risen since Mubarak's downfall with an estimated 24 dead, 200 injured and three churches in flames.
  • June 1981:81 Copts were killed by a mob of Muslims.
  • May 4, 1992: Villages of Manshia and Weesa in Dyroot, Upper Egypt. After being Manshiet Naser's Christians for weeks, an Islamic extremist methodically shoots 13 of them to death.
  • January 2000: Al Kosheh, a "predominantly Christian town" in southern Egypt. After a Muslim customer and a Christian shoe-store owner fall into an argument, three days of rioting and street fighting erupt leaving 20 Christians, (including four children) and one Muslim dead after protest by the Coptic Pope Shenouda the government granted a new trial. January 6, 2010
  • January 6 2010: Nag Hammadi massacre, Machine gun attack by Muslim mob on Coptic Christians celebrating the Egyptian birth of Christ. Seven are killed (including a Muslim officer in his trial to defend them) and scores injured, and lots of lives ruined.
  • January 1, 2011 (On New Year's eve) Alexandria bombing: A car bomb exploded in front of an Alexandria Coptic Orthodox Church killing at least 21 and injuring at least 79. The incident happened a few minutes after midnight as Christians were leaving a New Year's Eve Church service. It has been later thought that the previous corrupt minister of interior was behind the attacks in an attempt to cause strife between the Egyptian people.
  • October 9, 2011: Maspero demonstrations, Thousands of Coptic Christians took to the streets in Cairo to protest the burning of a church in Marinab and were headed towards Maspiro, where they were met with armoured personnel carrier, APCs, and hundreds of riot police and Special Forces. Army vehicles charged at the protesters and reports of at least 6 protesters being crushed under APCs. In addition, witnesses have confirmed that military personnel were seen firing live ammunition into the protesters, while the Health Ministry confirmed that at least 20 protesters have undergone surgery for bullet wounds. In total, an estimated 24 persons were killed most of whom are Copts, while numbers as high as 36 and 50 were reported, including unconfirmed reports of the death of three army soldiers. The number of wounded protesters was estimated to be 322, of whom about 250 were transported to hospitals.
  • Inciting more unrest, messages were broadcasted on Egyptian national television urging "honest Egyptians" to take to the streets to "protect the military" from Christian protesters. As a result, hundreds of people, presumably Muslim extremists, were seen wielding clubs and machetes alongside riot police chanting "the people want to bring down the Christians", and later "Islamic, Islamic".
  • The events came against the backdrop of tensions simmering due to the violent military breakup of a sit-in staged at Maspiro by Coptic demonstrators a few days earlier to protest the burning of the church of Marinab in the Governorate of Aswan by the Salafis of the region


  1. The 2009 American Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life"(PDF). Retrieved October 10, 2011.
  2. Institute National Etudes De

Demographics – Research in population and demography of France estimates the Coptic population to be". Retrieved October 10, 2011.

  1. The Copts and Their Political Implications in Egypt”. Washington Institute for Near East Policy. October 25, 2005.
  2. The Washington Post. "Estimates of the size of Egypt's Christian population vary from the low government figures of 6 to 7 million to the 12 million reported by some Christian leaders. The actual numbers may be in the 9 to 9.5 million ranges, out of an Egyptian population of more than 60 million." Retrieved 10-10-2008
  3. Egypt from "U.S. Department of State/Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs"". United States Department of State. September 30, 2008.
  4. U.S. State Department annual reports on `Human Rights Practices in Egypt`, quoted in Murphy, Caryle, Passion for Islam : Shaping the Modern Middle East: the Egyptian Experience, Scribner; 1st Edition (October 1, 2002) p