Christian Copts in Egypt continue to suffer discrimination. The growing religious intolerance in Egypt has resulted in the increased threats and violence against the nation’s Christian minority.
Coptic Christians make up only around 10-20 percent of Egypt’s population, and are considered one of the oldest Christian communities in the world. They are considered Middle East’s largest religious minority.
4 Egyptian Christian teenagers face up to five years in a detention facility after an Egyptian court found them guilty of insulting Islam in a video. The four boys, aged between 15 and 16, could serve time in a youth detention center if the court finds them guilty of violating Egypt’s blasphemy law.
According to CNA, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, Samuel Tadros, said the charges are “only the latest case in a pattern that can be seen since the Egyptian revolution.”
“Most of these cases target Christians, although we’ve had 10 targeting non-Christians,” he said.
The 32-second video shows the boys mocking the Islamic State, pretending to pray while reciting verses from the Qur’an. The students are shown in the video laughing, and one appears to pretend to slit the throat of another; apparently playing out ISIS-style of beheading.
The legal complaint accused five teenagers and their teacher of insulting Islam. The teacher was sentenced to three years in prison, also on charges of contempt of religion, in January 2016.
Many Christians were “living in horror” and suffered violence in the Minya province, August 2013 after the military ousted President Mohamed Morsi, who had links with the Muslim Brotherhood.
In 2013, a dispute between a Christian and Muslim youth led to severe clashes between Muslims and Christians in a village outside of Minya. The argument purportedly began after Muslim youth attacked a Christian boy, and attempted to steal his motorcycle. The boy was smart enough to run home, only to be chased by the group. The boy’s family fled to the rooftop and began throwing bricks down on the group, one of which struck and killed a young Muslim. Soon after the young Muslim was killed, Muslims attacked Christian homes in a revenge that had more than 8 Christian homes in the village burned down.
As Egypt’s unrest continues, Coptic Christians face increased violence across the nation. The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights has documented at least 39 attacks against Coptic schools, churches and places of business – just since Morsi’s overthrow.
Mob attacks can be driven by blasphemy accusations, a rumor that a church is being built, or that a Christian had a sexual relationship with a Muslim woman.
“There’s no police protection, no one tries to stop them,” Tadros said. “More importantly, there’s no legal punishment. Every single one of these attacks go on and not a single person involved in them has received any legal verdict. That’s a serious problem because it creates a culture of impunity which in turn becomes a culture of encouragement.”
“Many people believe that the Christians are alien, that they are enemies and that attacking them is permissible,” he lamented.
The abduction and disappearance of Coptic Christian women and girls remains a serious ongoing problem.
“What Copts are asking for is not preferable treatment, what they want is basic law and order. If someone burns a shop then he should be punished for it legally. If a Christian is killed in mob violence, her murderers should get sentences,” Tadros said.
Tadros noted that a lot of educated and successful Christians have migrated abroad, to countries like the United States.
“You wonder: it’s America’s gain, but it’s Egypt’s loss,” he said. “Egypt has lost a lot of its citizens that could make it a much better place.”
However, during a Coptic Christmas Eve mass at St Mark’s Cathedral in Abbassiya, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi promised to end the religious intolerance throughout Egypt.
“We have taken too long to fix and renovate churches that were burned. This year everything will be fixed. Please accept our apologies for what happened. God willing, by next year there won’t be a single church or house that is not restored,” he said.