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Nominal Me

I'm falling in love with my camera and taking photos everywhere I go. That, combined with my passions for politics, sports, religion and other things we all agree on, makes this blog persist.

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Location: Astoria, New York, United States

I'm born in Manhattan and raised in Queens.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Copts Unite!

As I was walking past the Field Museum after a good afternoon of culture, I ran into a group of Egyptians protesting their government. It turns out they were Coptic Christians, the ancient Christian church in Egypt which is based on the teachings of St. Mark the Apostle. Christianity was firmly established in Egypt in 42 A.D., according to their handout, and the term "Copts" refers to a distinct group of Christians which traces its ancestry back to the pre-Arab Ancient Egyptians.

Arab Muslims conquered the land by 641 A.D. and transformed it into an Islamic country. To this day, however, Copt or Coptic means "Egyptian", while the Muslim population of Egypt calls themselves Arabs.

Eyptian Christians, who make up between 15 and 20 percent of the population, are easily distinguishable because of their Western clothing and their identification cards. This makes them easy targets for discimination.

The Christian minority of Egypt describes their trials and tribulations in many forms. The construction of churches is strictly regulated, dating back to a decree issued by the Ottoman Empire in 1856 that requires that non Muslims to obtain a presidential decree to build a place of worship.

Some Copts have been forcefully converted to Islam, and the country refuses to recognize the Copt's status as an ethnic minority, which would grant them certain rights. On the other hand, under Shari'a law, any convert from the Islamic religion to Christianity is sentenced to death by beheading (warning, this link is very graphic).

This year, attacks were made in Alexandria. Men wielding machetes made simultaneous assaults on worshipers in three Coptic churches in Alexandria, killing an 80 year old man and wounding six people.

The Copts are demanding things like easier rules on repairing their churches, removal of religion on identity cards, land reforms, legal reforms, end the forced conversion of Christian girls, who have been kidnapped and raped by Muslim extremists. Other demands include more representation in parliament, the end of religious discrimination in schools and the education system, and the end of a 5% maximum place on Coptic enrollment to police and military academies.

As far as protests go, it was pretty mild. The people there were very friendly and polite, and acting angry seemed out of place for them. They did their best and caught my attention.

I wish them luck.

Egypt's Endangered Christians

Christian Persecution in Egypt

Christian Persecution Worldwide