Arab-West Report, August, 2012
Title: Controversial Statistics: Articles from Egyptian Media Dealing with Coptic Representation
in Egypt and Coptic Migration Statistic, 1997-2012
Author: Cornelis Hulsman, Mette Toft Nielsen, and Jenna Ferrecchia
The following list contains articles published in Arab-West Report (AWR) or referred to in AWR
statistics of Christians in Egypt and Egyptian Christian migration. Some articles about migration
on Christians from the Arab World have been added, but the main focus of this list is Egypt.
Statistics of Christians in Egypt are controversial. Coptic Christians repeatedly claim their
numbers are substantially higher than the Central Agency for Public Mobilization And Statistics
(CAPMAS) provided until 1996. After 1996, the CAPMAS did not provide figures since the
registration of religion is now done through the new computerized Egyptian ID cards. Those
figures are kept in the Ministry of Interior and are not made public.
Metropolitan Bishoi told Cornelis Hulsman during an interview on November 2002 that Pope
Shenouda had requested bishops to collect Coptic population data for years, but some have done
so and others have not. On several occasions Hulsman has asked Bishop Yo’annis, secretary to
the Pope, for figures only to be told that these were not available. In meetings between Hulsman
and Bishops Agathon and Paphnotius in October 2011 he was told that they had not provided
Pope Shenouda with figures from their dioceses thence far, but both were working on compiling
statistics for their respectives dioceses, Maghagha and Samalut, both in the governorate of Minia.
The correct numbers of Christians are highly relevant in discussions about equality for Christians
in Egyptian society especially concerning:
- Equal representation of Christians in various positions in government and administration;
- Church building;
- Christian influence on the Egyptian society in general (education, media, etc.).
French scholar, Dr. Philippe Fargues shows in several of his studies that the proportion of
Christians in Egypt is declining due to: 1) emigration, 2) Christians having smaller families than
Muslims on average, and 3) conversion to Islam.
To create this list of relevant articles, sources were generated from the Arab-West Report
database (AWR) by searching for articles containing the words: “Copt, statistics”; “Copt,
migration”; “Migration”; “Census”; “Quota”; “Copt and Numbers”; “Coptic Population”;
“Marginalization”; “Conversion”; “Coptic Representation”; and “Copt, Hulsman” as Cornelis
Hulsman is one of the principle authors of many of the articles published. We also checked
cross-references to related articles in the database.
In analyzing data from this list one has to be cautious. Many (but not all) journalists lack
accuracy in their reporting. It is thus always needed to try to verify data as much as possible. Yet,
this list is extremely interesting because it provides an excellent insight in the arguments in favor
of higher or lower proportions of Coptic Christians.
Throughout the years we can distinguish a number of topics related to different periods in the
discussions about the number of Coptic Christians in Egypt. These are:
A. Media discussions about the Freedom from Religious Persecution Act in the U.S., advocating
and opposing the right to interfere with non-Egyptian entities in religious freedom issues in
Discussions were raging about a proposal by Republicans with the support of religious liberty
and mainly Coptic activists from the U.S. to enact a law obliging the U.S. government to monitor
religious freedom in countries outside the U.S. Egyptians saw the proposed law as an unlawful
intervention in internal relations in Egypt. Discussions led to a weakening of the original
proposal, but the law was enacted in 1998. The discussion about this law has continued for years
but has disappeared from media reporting, occurring now only in off-the-record meetings with
Egyptian diplomats. The feeling that this law was doing injustice to Egypt has remained.
B. Ongoing discussions about the proportion of Christians in Egypt, 2002-2007:
Bishop Bishoi suggested in 2002 to keep ten percent as a “guideline” for the proportion of
Christians in Egypt. Pope Shenouda complained about the small proportion of Christians in top
government positions but never provided figures. In 2006 Cornelis Hulsman and Elizabeth Yell,
then editor at Arab-West Report, refer to oft-cited British author Patrick Johnston who, in 1993,
provided a high proportion without references. Coptic authors Imad Basili and Kamal Zakhir
Musáal also reject government figures, but present no references to the figures they claim. An
article about the Conference of the Council of the Catholic Patriarchs of the East does not
provide figures but expresses fear for the mass migration of Copts because of the state. The
German weekly Der Spiegel presents the proportion of Christians in Egypt and Syria as below 10
percent, but Melanie Erlebach, in this period international coordinator at Arab-West Report,
argues that this proportion is still too high.
C. Discussions following the census of 2006; 2007-2008:
Unlike previous years, when the first statistics following the 2006 census were published no
information was included about the number of Christians in Egypt. This fact, and the statement
of the Minister of Labor and Immigration in 2007 claiming 10 percent of Christians triggered
discussions in various media.
D. Discussions following Pope Shenouda stating Egypt counts 12 million Christians, 2008-
Pope Shenouda stated in 2008 that Egypt counts 12 million Christians. This is the only known
public statement that he has made with an actual number. Since Pope Shenouda, nor the church,
has not provided any verifyable sources to back up this claim, it has resulted in much public
E. Discussions following the January 25, 2011 Revolution, including claims that large numbers
of Coptic Christians are leaving the country, 2011-2012:
Debates on the proportion of Copts in Egypt have increased with claims of Coptic human rights
lawyer Nabil Gibrail that 100,000 Coptic Christians have left Egypt in about six months time
following the Egyptian Revolution. Nabil Gibrail has not provided verifiable documents to back
up his claims. Other Copts dispute his numbers and also his claims seem to be ideologically
The list is organized chronologically by date with an excerpt from the article indicating how it
relates to numbers of Christians in Egypt.
AWR works with a system of 52 weekly issues per year. Most articles are summary translations
from articles in Arabic media. When these were placed in AWR they retained the date they were
published in the concerned Arabic publication. But since articles were sometimes published later,
the week of publication and the date of publication in some instances are not chronological. For
this reason we have placed the articles in this list in chronological order according to the date
mentioned on the articles in our database. We have provided the URL in this list for anyone who
would like to see the full text in our database.
Prior to 2004, AWR did not mention the translator’s name in the article information for summary
translations. Many of the articles cited in this list are summary translations published before
2004 and thus do not have a translator listed in their citations.
It is obvious from this list that standardizing the transliteration of Arabic names has been a major
problem for AWR throughout the years. Efforts to standardize names have been made but had
insufficient effect since translators in Egypt are not taught how to transliterate. Translators are
also often not able to do this systematic because of the different pronounciations that exist of
Arabic names. Because sometimes articles were taken from other publications names here were
also not provided in a standardized spelling. The consequence is that in this list similar names
may appear in different spellings.
Family names are very uncommon for Arabic names that usually follow a name-string system.
For this reason names, both Arabic and Western, have been placed as name strings, not using the
system of mentioning family name first and then first name(s) as is common in the West.
This document also contains articles dealing with subjects that fall outside the focus of the
discussion about the number of Coptic Christians in Egypt but they provide information that are
relevant in understanding the context of this discussion.
This list was made for students who want to study the debate about Coptic population statistics.
Some comments have been made in the text on the media articles we have found. Cornelis
Hulsman, Editor-in-Chief of AWR, has been adding comments in articles before they were
placed online. These are either marked as “CH” or “editor”. He has added new comments in May
2012. These are marked as CH (May 2012). Mette Toft Nielsen also added comments in May
2012. These are marked as MN (May 2012). Other users are encouraged to send us their
comments on specific articles and/or add articles or links to articles on this subject in our
database. All such inquiries can be directed to: email@example.com.
Overview of articles since 1997:
1. Milad Hanna, “Listen to the voices of the country and reason,” Al-Ahrām in Arab West
Report, Week 29, Art 6, July 22, 1997. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
Copts and Muslims gathered under the umbrella of the Wafd party in 1919. They asked
for independence through the leader of the party and the nation, Mr. Saad Zaghloul, but
they were banished and imprisoned until Egypt became independent under conditions in
February 28, 1922. One of these conditions was the British protection of the Coptic
minority, but Copts completely refused to be called a minority. In 1923 all Egyptians
refused to allocate seats to a certain number of Christians in parliament. In 1924, 16
Copts were elected in the first elections in modern Egyptian history in a parliament which
counted 214 members. Saad Zaghloul became the chairman of the parliament, and Wissa
Wassef was elected as his deputy in 1928. Wissa later became chairman of the
parliament. This liberal period continued from 1922 to 1952 with nothing to spoil the
relations between Copts and Christians.
2. Muhammad ‘Abd al-Quddus, “A fiery report with Dr. Refa’at El-Sa’id,” Al-Sha‘b in Arab
West Report, Week 30, Art 12, July 25, 1997. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“Mohammed Abdel Khoudous [CH: correct spelling is Quddus] interviews Dr. el-Sa’id and the
result is a remarkably open article which gives an excellent impression of the arguments used by
Rights of the Copts. I told Dr. Refa’at "Copts are first class citizens. They have the freedom to
ask for more rights." Dr. Refa’at answered quickly, "No, there is clear discrimination. Muslims
can build any mosque without restrictions and in any place, even in a public square or on
agricultural land. But Copts cannot even build a church toilet without having a decree from the
president himself. Another example of this discrimination concerns Christian students who read
Do you not think that they have the right to also read at least one verse from the Holy Bible
(Secondary school students have a book for learning to read Arabic which is full of verses from
the Qur’ān but not one single verse from the Bible)?
I told him, "Without getting into details, let me tell you that there are many restrictions on the
building of mosques at the present time. Muslims do not have as much freedom to build mosques
as you think. What is dangerous is that there is a difference between Coptic demands for more
rights and what you say about persecution and second class citizens. This way, you are pushing
the country into a civil war and sectarian clashes, or at the least you are causing tension in the
relations between Copts and Muslims."
Dr. Refa’at said, "It is not true that I am turning Christians against Muslims. How could this
happen while I am calling for national unity! I am just saying that Copts should have equal rights
to Muslims. That is not happening at all. You will see evidence if you look at the names of
Christians in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Ministry of Interior. You will find that their
numbers do not match at all with their percentage [of population]."
3. Usamah Salamah, “The highlight of 1997; Copts and the cutting of aid,” Rose al-Yūsuf in
Religious News Service from the Arab-World (Arab West Report), Week 30, Art 7, July 28,
1997. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-1997/week-30/7-highlight-1997-copts-
The author states that the Jewish lobby in the U.S. has exaggerated numbers of Copts being
killed each year as part of a conspiracy to discourage the U.S. and other investors from putting
their funds into Egypt’s economy. The Jewish-right supports the Christian population and thus
benefits from inflating numbers of Copts and the level of violence against them.
CH (May 2012): This article appeared in the period that Egypt was opposing the proposed
International Religious Freedom Act that became law in 1998 (Public Law 105–292, as
amended by Public Law 106–55, Public Law 106–113, Public Law 107–228, Public Law 108–
332, and Public Law 108–458). This act was passed to promote the advocacy of religious
freedom as a foreign policy of the United States, and to advocate on the behalf of the individuals
viewed as persecuted in foreign countries on the account of religion. (Background on this law).
4. Maurice Sadeq, “It is not right to describe those who defend Copts as crusaders,” Al-Dustūr
in Arab West Report, Week 37, Art 3, September 17, 1997. URL:
Al-Dustūr, August 27, 1997, published an article entitled "Crusaders have not put their swords
down yet". The writer expressed his worry at an American economic boycott, or an American
marine invasion of Egypt to save Copts. He said that the crusaders still exist, and they do not
realize the danger of what they are doing. They use Copts’ problems as a poisoned dagger which
they cruelly try to thrust into the homeland’s heart.
Al-Dustūr is not right “when it describes those who defend Copts as crusaders. At the same time
it declares the existence of Coptic problems. It is really a serious subject, related to the
decreasing citizenship rights of Copts, and discrimination between Muslims and Copts
in favor of Muslims. Citizenship is not only a problem, but also a life and a hope of
Then we should thank Michael Horrowiz, Senator Frank Wolf, Senator Sam Brown, and Pastor
Keith Rodrick, because they felt my pain, and the violation of my human rights. Human rights
are no longer an internal matter, as Egypt signed the Human’s Rights agreement. It is no longer
acceptable to hit your son while the world watches you, the exact thing that is happening to
Copts in Egypt now.
Sadeq argues that the American Congress discussed citizenship rights in Egypt but the Council
of Ministers, the People’s Assembly, and the Shoura Council did not.
The National Democratic Party refused to nominate Copts in the elections of both the People’s
Assembly, and the Shura Council. 28 governors and 15 chiefs of universities were nominated
without there being any Copt among them. The prime minister and ministers are Muslims, higher
and lower leadership are Muslims too.
Sadeq argues that the president has no right to give permissions for church building since that
Hamayoumi law of 1856 was abolished in 1923. He further adds stories about kidnapping under
age Christian girls, broadcasting Christian prayer, degrading students at universities. “They even
refuse to announce the real number of Copts in the general census.”
“You have the right to hit me, but I should not cry.”
5. Habib Labīb, “Copts of Egypt.. Beware ..Dissension is Raising,” Al-Usbū‘ in Religious News
Service from the Arab-World (Arab West Report), Week 10, Art 13, March 24, 1998. URL:
Coptic emigration from Egypt began with the 1952 Revolution and increased due to
naturalization laws and perceived discrimination against Copts. The Coptic Association formed
abroad in reaction to the rise of Islamism in Egypt. No figures are provided.
6. The Council of Churches of the City of New York. “Report on the Persecution of Christians
by the Council of Churches of the City of New York after its Visit to Egypt,” Religious News
Service from the Arab World (Arab West Report), Week 17, Art 6, March 25, 1998. URL:
“Every Egyptian is required to have an identification card, which carries data concerning its
holder’s religion: Christian, Muslim or Jewish. Our delegation argued that as Americans we are
suspicious that whenever ID cards are used there is the possibility that the information they carry
may be used, even subconsciously, to discriminate on the basis of that information. When we
asked why ID cards were used we were told that they were needed for census and statistical data
gathering. Our delegation remained trouble, pointing out that world history teaches that where
identification of religion has existed, it has been used to discriminate, oppress and systematically
persecute people (e.g. Nazi Germany and South Africa).”
“(…) of the 400 members of current Parliament only five are Christian, and that these were
named by President Mubarak, among the ten he is permitted to select. Two Christians are in the
President’s Cabinet. With an estimated population of 10 million, equaling 16% of the population,
it would seem clear that they are significantly under represented.”
7. Hamdi Rizq, “Claims of persecuting Copts,” A - u a ar in Arab West Report, Week 14,
Art 9, March 27 – April 3, 1998. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-1998/week-
“The article sums up numbers or Copts in the countries of emigration as well as mentions several
Coptic organizations outside Egypt.
Not all the emigrant Copts are against Egypt but a certain strata of them are attacking it night and
day in their newspapers and television stations and publishing paid advertisements against it.
These attacks are seasonal and increase every time a high ranking Egyptian is visiting an
American official. The number of emigrant Copts is highly controversial. Some statistics say
they are 50,000 in the US and 15,000 in Canada while a church statistic said they are 300,000 in
the US and 35,000 in Canada.”
8. Cornelis Hulsman, “Freedom of Religious Persecution not through polarization,” Bulletin of
the Cairo Foreign Press Association (Spring 1998), in Arab West Report, Week 19, Art 6,
1998. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-1998/week-19/6-freedom-religious-
“Hulsman argues that there are social problems in Egypt but not persecution and that if the
proposals for a law promoting religious freedom worldwide becomes law they could lead to
polarization between Muslims and Christians in Egyptian society. He gives examples of stories
which have been exaggerated in the US.
A few months ago I received a copy of a shocking article with the title "Their blood cries out"
which Dr. Paul Marshall, professor at the Institute for Christian Studies at the University of
Toronto, wrote in ’The Anglican Digest’. The article starts with the story of Mary who was
’kidnapped’ and subjected to a ’program to transform Mary into a Muslim’. Mary escaped but,
writes Marshall, she is a representative of the ’between 7.000 and 10.000 such cases of forced
conversion to Islam.’
I have checked the stories about kidnapping Christian girls. Lawyer Maurice Sadek has been
very active in spreading these stories and claimed in a lecture in the Ibn Khaldoun Institute some
two years ago that he had the files of hundreds of cases proving his point. I went to see Sadek,
interviewed him and many of his clients. I obtained documents and found Sadek had at that point
not more than 40 cases documented. None of these was kidnapped in the sense that the
disappearance was initiated with physical force. The stories show a range of human problems;
girls trying to escape poverty or family problems, love stories, etc.”
9.‘Atif Hilmi, “19 women and a Copt in the New Wasat Party,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West
Report, Week 21, Art 9, May 25, 1998. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“About the new structure of the Party, Madi said that there is a large number of new founding
members in addition to the old founding members who did not leave because of the pressure.
There are 19 women among the new founding members as opposed to only four previously and
there are two Copts in addition to Dr. Rafiq Habib, but one of them died three days before the
request for the establishment of the party was presented.”
10. Jamal ‘Isam al-Din, “NDP sweeps Shura Council Polls,” Al-Ahram Weekly in Arab West
Report, Week 25, Art 13, June 25 – July 1, 1998. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“In mid-term elections 88 new members of the Shura (consultative) council were elected, all of
them went to the ruling National Democratic Party because these elections were boycotted by the
opposition. Besides this, President Mubarak appointed 47 members bringing the total number of
newly elected and appointed members to 135. The list of appointees includes 16 new members
and 31 old faces. Among the newly appointed members were three prominent Coptic
businessmen: Louis Bishara, a manufacturer of ready-made garments in 10th of Ramadan City,
Tharwat Bassili, chairman of a pharmaceutical company in 6th of October City and Raouf
Boutros Ghali, chairman of a tourism company. This raised to nine the number of Copts in the
Council and to nearly 40 the number of businessmen.”
11. Muhammad ‘Abd Allah, “A mysterious octopus prevents Al-Azhar graduates from
attending the Police Academy,” Al-Usbū‘ in Arab West Report, Week 30, Art 2, July 27,
1998. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-1998/week-30/2-mysterious-octopus-
“The applications to attend the Police Academy this year reached 25,000 meaning that 10% of
those who passed the Thanawya Amma have applied to the Police Academy. Most of those
accepted come from Cairo and Alexandria, while 150 to 200 students from the Delta and 50 to
100 students from Upper Egypt are accepted. Five percent of all students accepted are Copts.”
12.Yusuf Sidhum, “Jobs and positions… - are they for all Egyptians?!,”a a in Arab West
Report, Week 32, Art 8, August 9, 1998. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
The article provides a discussion on the number of Copts in different functions.
On November 10, 1991 the late Anton Sidhom wrote in this same place an article entitled
"Distancing the Copts". In it he said; "the official paper published on 17/10/1991 gives the names
of the new employees in the public attorney’s office. Out of the 407 names mentioned only five
were Copts. That is 1.25% of the total. This is not the first decision of this type. Lately several
presidential decrees were published in which the percentage of Copts fluctuated between 1 and
1.5%. Employment in banks, the public sector and the government has taken on a similar pattern.
As for promotions, they seem to almost completely overlook Copts despite the fact that they are
known to be devoted employees. This causes a lot of bitterness among the Copts."
13. Rajab al-Basil, “Maurice Sadek: I call for sanctions to be imposed on the Egyptian
Government, because it is racist and persecutes Copts,” Āfāq ‘Arab yah in Arab West Report,
Week 2, Art 2, August 13 1998. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-1999/week-2/12-
The article provides an interview with Maurice Sadek:
Frankly speaking, Christians are discriminated in Egypt. The issue of isolating them from
public life has become a normal matter. For the President of the Republic is a Muslim, so
is the Prime Minister and of the 32 ministers we have only two Christians. There is no
Christian Minister of Defense, Interior, Foreign Affairs, or Justice although there are very
qualified Christian cadres that could occupy such offices. We have 28 Governors who are
all Muslim and we have 15 universities all their deans are Muslims. All the heads of
Government Authorities heads are Muslim and most of the Deputy-Ministers are
Muslims. In addition the heads of the radio and television are also Muslim and if we open
the radio or television there is no Christian anchor or announcer. News is not read by a
Christian announcer, so have the Christians disappeared from Egypt? Of the 700
ambassadors we have only two Christians. All employees of embassies are Muslims and
this is against the constitution. Read the promotions bulletin in the newspapers, none of
them are Christians. We have members of Parliament only six of them are appointed
Christians. Why don’t they appoint 100 Coptic representatives so that there would be true
representation. It is also possible to close the districts to Christians only so that they can
reach 100 candidates for the Parliament and an equal number for the Shura Council
(Consultative Council). This is the system that is used in Jordan and Palestine.
14. Wa’el Lofty, “Muslims and Christians in delegations to the American churches,” Rose al-
Yūsuf in Arab West Report, Week 34, Art 13, August 24, 1998. URL:
“It is noticeable that the number of Evangelical churches exceeds 1000, serving half a million
Evangelical Copts, meaning that every church serves 500 people. The Evangelical thinker Rafiq
Habib says "If we divide the number of Muslims in Egypt by the number mosques, we will
discover that the ratio is almost the same. I realize that the Evangelicals are suffering least in
building churches because the nature of the doctrine allows forming small churches in homes.
Rafiq Habib is himself considered proof that there is no persecution of Evangelicals in Egypt.
Although he is the son of the late head of the Evangelical church, this did not prevent him from
participating in a group of his generation among the ex-members of the Muslim Brotherhood to
establish Al-Wassat party.
Habib adds that the picture has differed since the middle of the 20th century. The number 25 of
public personalities and rich men decreased in the church because the church moved towards the
poorer classes and the middle class. These people naturally have a tendency towards the spiritual
life, and some of them took a very cautious position towards [the church’s] materialistic thought.
Throughout these past years, there were no public personalities in the church and not even any
attempts to participate in public work. Habib thinks that this has to do with the spiritual culture
of the church.
The Evangelical church consists of 16 different doctrines known as churches. There is the
Presbyterian Evangelical Church, the Episcopal Church, the Closed Brotherhood Church, the
Open Brotherhood Church and the Renascence of Holiness Church.”
15. Farrag Ismaiel, “170,000 Christians in Jordan reach high positions and enjoy their religious
freedom,” Al- us emū in Arab-West Report, Week 35, Art 14, August 29, 1998. URL:
The co-existence of Islam with other religions in all ages is an example of peaceful co-existence
that doesn’t violate the religious and social rights of the others. Christians and Jews were secure
living in the Islamic nation. They were not forced to give up their religion. The Muslims called
for the way of God with wisdom. The Islamic principle "You have your religion and I have my
own" was always a proof of the greatness of this religion and its tolerance.
In the last few months, we faced a strange campaign with claims of the persecution of Christians
in the Islamic world. This campaign led to a [proposed] law called the Freedom of Religious
Persecution Act before the American Congress with the support of the Zionist lobby.
The leaders of the churches in the Arab countries met in Cyprus a few months ago to refute the
claims of the West about Christians’ persecution in the Arab world. They said that they are
receiving good treatment from the Muslims in the societies where they live.
In this report, we are opening for the first time the file of the Christians in the Arab world. We
speak with senior church leaders, shedding light on the relations between Muslims and Christians
in the Arab world.
The text further provides numbers of Christians in Palestinian areas and Jordan and uses
traditional Muslim arguments “Going back in history, the co-existence between Muslims and
Christians began in Jerusalem 15 years after the prophet’s emigration. When Omar Ibn El
Khatab conquered Jerusalem, he signed the most famous peace treaty in history with Jerusalem’s
patriarch. This treaty resulted in co- existence between Christians and Muslims since that time
until now. The Christian sects are distributed in Palestine on a larger scale than in any other
neighboring Arab countries. The holiness of this spot made the people of the three heavenly
religions try to establish themselves firmly [there].”
CH (May 2012): It is obvious that the proposed Freedom of Religious Persecution Act has
spurred discussions about statistics of Christians in relation to equal rights between Muslims and
Christians. This article presents arguments that are very often heard in discussions with Muslims.
The formulations “on a larger scale” and “firmly” established give a much too rosy picture in the
light of the large emigration of Palestinian Christians.
16.Christina Lamb, “Egyptian police ’crucify’ and rape Christians,” Sunday Telegraph in Arab
West Report, Week 43, Art 4, October 25, 1998. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“Although Coptic Christians make up six per cent of the population of Egypt and their numbers
include the former United Nations Secretary General, Boutros Ghali, the government refuses to
recognize them as an official minority and they have suffered persecution for years from Islamic
17.Mohammad Refa’at, “Centers for the circulation of lies, if you want to know more search
after a man called Maurice Sadek,” Al-Usbū‘ in Arab West Report, November 2, 1998. URL:
“The article calls Coptic human rights lawyer Maurice Sadek a source of lies and gives several
Maurice Sadek “also called for the return of the religious freedoms law promulgated by the
Khedive Ismail in the year 1856, to satisfy the British and French, although this law dedicated
25% of the public positions and 10% of Military colleges for the Copt’s. Which means that this
law affirms them being a minority, which is what is unaccepted historically by Egyptians.
Among the ideas propagated by Sadek’s center in International congregations is his demand to
appoint Pope Shenouda as the republics Vice-President, appointing one of the Christian
prominent figures to be Prime Minister and appointing a number of Christian governors, in
addition to the post of Minister of Justice. The center also demands the dedication of 50 electoral
centers for Christians to guarantee that 100 of the people’s assembly members would represent
18. “News story stirs readers’ astonishment, derision,” Egyptian Gazette in Religious News
Service from the Arab World (Arab West Report), Week 44, Art 41, November 3, 1998.
A Copt living in Australia was said to have paid money to Copts migrating to Australia.
19. Khalid Hasan, “Foreign aid and temptations in return for harming Egypt,” Akhbar Al-
Hawadeth in Arab-West Report, Week 47, Art 19, November 12 1998. URL:
We met with the members of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR) in Sohag,
who had resigned from their duty objecting to the suspicious role that was played by the
organization in the events of Al-Koshh. The resigning members, who have documented facts,
revealed the suspicious role played by the Organization in harming Egypt, its people and its
stability by planting sectarian strife and spreading rumors and lies, with the help of foreign
Esmat Selim, lawyer and founder of the EOHR regional branch in Sohag, said that the
organization, like most other human rights organizations, receives funding from foreign bodies.
Selim explains that these organizations are always looking to achieve their aims. "A few months,
ago Father Christian contacted me. He is Dutch and the head of the Religious Brotherhood
Society in Egypt and he lives in the St. George School in Heliopolis. Father Christian offered me
to establish a branch for the society in Sohag and that there will be large funding", said Selim.
(CH: this is not true and father Christian responded in a letter to the editor.)
Naser Ahmed El-Sayyed, a member of the organization, says that the organization is in
cooperation with migrant Coptic groups abroad and it is tempting Copts to migrate.
20. “Asa’ad assured that there is no persecution against Copts in Egypt. Suggesting the Church
as an alternative for a Coptic state is very dangerous,” A -A rār in Arab West Report, Week
47, Art 13, November 21, 1998. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-1998/week-
“An interview with Gamal Asa’ad on the role of Pope Shenouda and persecution.
Regarding the issue of minorities in Egypt, Egyptians are of one fabric and being a minority in
term of numbers does not mean we are a minority. Minority means the majority is of certain
ethnic group and the minority belongs to another. So, we cannot say we are persecuted
21. Khalid al-Shirbini, “Says former Coptic Parliamentarian Edward El-Zahabi, who was
honored on the occasion of the celebration of the Prophet’s Day: ‘My study of Islam
corrected a number of misconceptions I held about Islam. I support the implementation of the
Sharia,’” Al-Li ā’ a -‘Arab in Arab-West Report, Week 3, Art 11, January 20, 1999. URL:
Islam urges the adoption of the golden rule: "They are entitled to the same rights we enjoy and
they are subject to the same obligations as we are."
“The second premise is the freedom of belief. The Holy Qur’an is full of verses that demonstrate
this principle. For example, "there is no compulsion in religion". Thus, it is not permitted in
Islam for a Muslim to punish [people because they are] non-Muslims even if the latter were non-
“There are some Coptic elements working abroad. Unfortunately, some of these elements
migrated after failing to succeed here. They, as a result, gradually lose their identification with
the country. That may explain their bitter attack on Egypt.”
“The majority of Copts living abroad understands the reality of national unity between Muslims
and Christians in Egypt. A minority, which doesn’t represent the Copts of migration, is leading
the attack by some and I believe some foreign agencies are generously sponsoring them. There is
no one other than the Zionist lobby whose goals are to deprive Egypt of its pioneering role in the
region and to set in action religious hatred in Egypt.”
Question: What is your evidence of the Zionist involvement?
El-Zahabi: “The evidence is provided by the minority of Copts who promote their poisonous
ideas on whole pages in the largest American news media. These advertisements are very
expensive and their costs cannot be paid by this minority. In addition to that is the Jewish
domination of the press, political, economical and cultural life in the United States. Also, we
have not heard of such complaints from other Copts in other countries, e.g., Canada and
Question: What do you say of the organizations that organize conferences under foreign
El-Zahabi: “In May 1994, a strong opposition emerged against the Ibn Khaldoun Center for
Development Studies for organizing a conference under the theme "Universal Declaration of
Minority rights in the Arab World and the Middle East". This was because the Center considered
Copts to be in the same situation as Kurds in Iraq, Berbers in Morocco, Druze in Israel and
Armenians in Lebanon. Under pressure of the opposition to that group, the Center was forced to
hold the Conference in Cyprus.”
22.Abd’ Allah Kamal, “Egypt is more in need of hospitals and schools than churches and
mosques,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West Report, Week 4, Article 7, January 25, 1999. URL:
“The statistical data contain the names of 39 churches covered by the restoration decisions.
These include 17 Orthodox, 17 Evangelical and 3 Catholic churches, respectively, in addition to
two churches affiliated to two Coptic associations.”
“[…] the month of November witnessed an intense issuance of restoration decisions. The number
of decisions issued in this month amounted to 15. This is followed by the month of December
(seven restoration decisions), July (five decisions), followed by the months of May, June,
August, September, and October (one decision each). One decision was made in February. In the
months of January, April, and March no decision were made.”
“Sadfa district came at the top of the list of restoration decisions, gaining a number of 10
restoration decisions, followed by Assiut (6 decisions), Manfalout and Abu Tig districts (5
decisions each), El-Gousi and Dairout (3 decisions each), El-Bedrawi, Abanub and Sahel Abu
Selim (2 decisions each) and, finally, El-Qenahim (one decision).”
“The analysis of the table indicates the building of six churches in El-Minia, four in Assiut, three
in Beni Suef and El-Bahira each, two in each of the governorates of Gharbiya, Port Said and
Sohaq, and one in each of Cairo, Giza and Qena. The table shows also the building of three,
twelve and ten Catholic, Evangelical and Orthodox churches, respectively.”
“The report adds: "Looking back at the 1986 population census, we find that there was one
church for every 17 thousand Christians, as opposed to a mosque for every one thousand
23.Wai’el Lutfi, “Illegitimate children are legal,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West Report, Week 5,
Art 13, February 1, 1999. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-1999/week-5/13-
“After the passage of more than 20 years since the first attempt at issuing a unified Personal
Status Law binding all Christian denominations, an agreement has finally been reached in the
last couple of days.
The basis for judgment will indeed be the marriage contract itself. Mamduh Nakhla, a lawyer,
comments on the new law that though the new bill of law has narrowed the possibilities of
divorce, it will complicate the problem of second-time marriage, a problem suffered by 44,000
Copts who, in accordance with the provisions of the former law, have obtained divorces and for
whom the Church refuses the license to remarry except for the reason of adultery only.
Article 24 relates to the marriage of a Christian person to a non-Christian or a believer of
unrecognized Christian denomination. This article has been the source of a number of
CH (May 2012): Difficulties in obtaining a permit for a second marriage can make Christians
convert to Islam or, if they have a chance to do so, migrate.
24.Maurice Sadiq, “‘When I know I have equal opportunities, I will love this country.’ Coptic
campaigner Maurice Sadek,” Cairo Times in Arab West Report, Week 6, Art 16, February 4-
17, 1999. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-1999/week-6/16-when-i-know-i-have-
equal-opportunities-i-will-love-country-coptic-campaigner. (The recent Arab Strategic
Report produced by the Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.)
The author is highly critical of this Coptic human rights activist:
Maurice Sadek’s strategy is to batter you with statistics so you’re left in no doubt. The
government is overwhelmingly dominated by Muslims; of 32 ministers only two are Copts, and
they’re "in marginal ministries," he says (though that includes the Minister of the Economy). "In
the last 20 years, no defense, interior, justice or foreign minister has been Christian." All 28
governors are Muslims, as are most figures in the media, education and agriculture. Of 700
ambassadors, only three are Christian. There are only six Coptic members of parliament, and all
of them had to be nominated by the president. The Qur’an is broadcast 24 hours a day, and 25
percent of television programs are "Islamic" -- the Minister of Information refuses to broadcast
Sunday services. The army is Muslim-dominated, and Al Azhar University will only accept
Muslims, because it’s a "racist university." All 15 universities in the country have Muslims for
principals, and the national press is essentially the same. All of this because "religion is a basic
element in the appointment process," he says. "This state is Islamized, and all of it is against the
Egyptian constitution, which considers all Egyptians equal in rights and duties."
Welcome to the world of Maurice Sadek, the man who sees a conspiracy to marginalize the role
of Egypt’s Copts -- at 15 million, 25 percent of the population, he alleges -- in all spheres of life.
It’s not because of the state’s sensitivity to the religious sentiments of the Muslim majority --
Sadek doesn’t buy that argument.
That there are only three Christian ambassadors is simply not true. The recent Arab Strategic
Report produced by the Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies makes a strong case
refuting the argument that Copts are distanced from public life. It cites one study that found that
the percentage of Copts involved in companies established between 1973 and 1995 was 22.5
percent. Today, Copts own 20 percent of contracting firms, 50 percent of consultancies, 60
percent of Egypt’s pharmacies and 45 percent of private clinics. Copts, then, clearly have a share
in the nation’s economic life above that which their numbers would suggest. "Using the
numerical size of any social group, and using that as the measure to judge its presence in one
sphere or another," the report says, "is an expression of a narrow sectarian mentality which has
nothing at all to do with modernization and creating a civil society."
MN (May 2012): It has to be stressed that Sadiq and Sadek are the same person. This is the
problem with the lack of consistency to spell names in the database as mentioned introductory.
25.Nabil Louqa Bebawi, “A question that needs an answer,” Al-Akhbār in Arab-West Report,
Week 15, Art 13, April 11, 1999. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-1999/week-
“The migration of Egyptian Copts to the US and other countries in Europe and Australia, in
search of higher incomes or for other reasons that they encountered before the Mubarak era,
increased during the sixties.” No further information about emigration. The article speaks about
improvements the author wishes to see for Copts in Egypt.
26.Majdi Khalil, “Dr. Fawzy Stefanos to Al-Watani: Resolution of Coptic concerns can come
about through dialogue, not through silence,” Watani in Arab-West Report, Week 16, Art 18,
April 18, 1999. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-1999/week-16/18-dr-fawzy-
Dr. Stefanos is a Coptic surgeon living in the US. About Copts emigrating from Egypt to the US
he says, “The experience of immigration can be advantageous. However, it, requires
arrangements and certain certificates, in addition to a command of foreign languages. An
individual planning to immigrate should have a clear objective in mind. It is not acceptable to
throw aside one’s certificate to work as a taxi driver or in a restaurant. We want youth that will
form a brilliant image of Egypt abroad.”
CH (May 2012): This is an indication that both groups of Coptic emigrants exist. Some being
well educated and increasing their opportunities to advance after emigration while others are so
desperate to emigrate that they are willing to do this almost at any cost.
27.‘Atif Hilmi, “The devil of the fitna ta’ifiya [sectarian strife],” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West
Report, Week 24, Art 13, June 12-18, 1999. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“Mr. Maurice Sadek, who runs a center called the Egyptian Centre for Human Rights and
National Unity claims that the church is behind the stories about young Coptic girls. He demands
foreign interference. He compares Copts to the colored Americans. He demands [that] half of the
seats in parliament and a quarter of the seats in the cabinet [go to the Copts].
Only persecution and sectarian problems occupy his mind and ignores the stable and unchanged
He spoke provokingly in different conferences about the similarities between the Copts and the
colored Americans. He usually gets things mixed up, saying that the American law is similar to
another one issued in Khedive Ismail’s time which gave the Copts 25 percent of the leading
positions and 10 percent of the military forces. He ignored the fact that Copts refused that [these
CH (May 2012): I am not aware of a decree making such percentages in Khedive Ismail’s time
possible. This makes the statement questionable and it would therefore be interesting to have a
researcher check this claim.
He totally forgets the fact that what he asks concerns a political representation and not a religious
one. What he is saying is breaking the institution it is a way of isolating the Copts from national
unity. The Copts have always been part of Egypt. He also demanded the same percentage for
Copts among the deans of Universities, governors and ministers ignoring the fact that there must
be equal opportunities and the fittest will survive. We can’t use religion as a job application
asset. Only qualifications and skills should count and this is in harmony with logic and the
28.Cornelis Hulsman, “Escaping social control in Egypt dubbed kidnapping in US,” Middle
East Times in Arab West Report, Week 26, Art 36, June 24-30, 1999. URL:
The article deals with investigation on conversions and takes up the issue whether or not it can
be stated to be forced:
“Over the past four years, I have been collecting information on 80 Christian girls who converted
to Islam. For around half of them, more investigative work has been done. Of the ten names
mentioned in the advertisement, seven are in my files. There is no evidence that any of those
girls was kidnapped and/or raped and/or forced to convert to Islam as the advertisement claims.”
29.Cornelis Hulsman, “Forced Conversions or Not?” Religious News Service from the Arab
World (Arab West Report), Week 26, Art 37, June 28, 1999. URL:
“Priests estimate that between 60 to 65 % of those who convert to Islam are aged 17 or 18. They
also estimate that 80% to 90% of the converts are younger than 25-years-old. Eighty percent of
those converts are girls.
An estimated 20% convert to Islam after having had a sexual relationship with a Muslim. Sexual
relationships lead to Muslims putting pressure on the Christian to convert.
[…] about 10 % of the conversion cases to Islam in Alexandria are because of pressure at work
or in the army. Some claim that others converted because of financial difficulties and housing
problems. It is reported that some landlords have threatened to throw Christians out of their
apartments or houses who were not able to pay the rent unless they convert to Islam.
Priests in Alexandria say that about 10 % of those who convert to Islam do so because they want
to get a divorce. A church worker in the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo estimates this
percentage to be 17%.
According to the same church worker in the Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, about 3 % convert
because they are seeking material gains such as a promotion, travel abroad, or obtaining a better
standard of living.
The number of Christians converting to Islam is very large. Except for figures within the
Ministry of Interior (which are not available to the public) no statistics exist. Church leaders,
however, estimate the number of converts to be thousands a year. The highest estimates
mentioned were around 15,000 to 20,000 per year.”
30.Hanan Al Badri, “President Mubarak in Washington: give him a big hand,” Rose al-Yūsuf
in Arab West Report, Week 27, Art 25, July 3, 1999. URL:
“When Bishop Surial was asked about the number of Coptic emigrants who converted to the
Protestant domination, he denied the occurrence of such incident. But the fact is there are 200
Coptic families who converted to Protestant dominations because of their refusal of certain
Orthodox rituals. This movement aims at destroying the Coptic Orthodox Church in the West.”
MN (May 2012): The author makes the statement in this excerpt; the article (which can be found
by following the URL above) does not mention any further souce for this knowledge.
31.Rajab al-Banna, “In America: the honorable Copts... and the Coptic mercenaries,” October
(Magazine) in Arab West Report, Week 33, Art 36, August 15, 1999. URL:
“In the mind of the author, the report of Cornelis Hulsman prepared for the New York Council of
Churches a few weeks ago regarding the alleged kidnappings, rapes and forced conversions to
Islam of young Christian girls was like a bomb destroying the claims of the Coptic groups in the
USA who vehemently accuse Egypt of discrimination against and persecution of Coptic
Christians in Egypt.
Rafiq Iscandar, the head of the American Coptic Union in the United States said, "There are 20
thousand cases of rape which happen annually to the Christian girls, and this has been continuing
for 20 years up till now," and the audience laughed. An American reporter asked, "From where
have you got this number...?" As for Hulsman, he answered and said that this [figure if true]
means [that a] quarter of the Coptic girls in Egypt are converted to Islam and are raped by the
32.Cornelis Hulsman, “Press conference New York Council of Churches on forced conversions
to Islam,” Religious News Service from the Arab World in Arab West Report, Week 33, Art
37, August 16, 1999. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-1999/week-33/37-press-
Transcript of press conference given by New York Council of Churches [NYCC], June 28, 1999.
RI: You mentioned in your report that young girls convert in large numbers, fifteen to twenty
thousand (15,000-20,000) per year. If I multiply this with twenty (20) years it is four hundred
thousand (400,000) young girls. And your sample picked only seven (7) names. Where are the
other four hundred thousand (400,000)? What happened to those people? They were not
CH: First of all I have no figures of the numbers of conversions. I don’t have them.
RI: But you wrote it.
CH: I have estimates and estimates vary from thousands per year to the highest I have heard
which was twenty thousand (20,000) per year. I don’t know the real numbers. It is like the
population statistics for the Copts in Egypt, which vary from four million (4,000,000) to twelve
or fifteen (12 or 15) millions in Egypt. They are all estimates. Some estimates are more reliable
than others but they remain estimates. I don’t have statistics. No one has them except for the
Ministry of Interior.
RI: Please let me continue. Among those seventy thousand (70,000) there are twenty thousand
(20,000) young girls. This is a waging war.
CH: (…). First about the numbers. You are doing something very interesting. You are first of all
using the highest estimate of twenty thousand (20,000) per year. I am telling you they are
estimates. I don’t have precise figures and then when you accept that this is twenty-five (25%) of
the natural growth of the Coptic Orthodox Church you are going to a figure of four million Copts
in Egypt. If you accept that figure and you accept the highest estimate only then it comes down
to twenty-five percent (25%) of the natural growth. I didn’t hear you before claiming there are
four million Copts in Egypt. I thought the American Coptic Union is accepting higher numbers.
Dr. Hiemstra: The question is do you know if there is falsification of the number of Copts in
CH: You cannot prove there is falsification. What you need to do is to do your own research.
People who are claiming that there are eight (8), ten (10) or twelve (12) million Copts in Egypt,
just do your own research. That is not too difficult.”
33.Cornelis Hulsman, “Interview with Mr. Rafique Iscander, chairman of the American Coptic
Union,” Religious News Service from the Arab World (Arab West Report), Week 34, Art 24,
August 22, 1999. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-1999/week-34/24-interview-mr-
Interview with Rafique Iscander, chairman and founder of the American Coptic Union. He
discusses growing up in the Sohag governorate and the increasing ratio of Muslims to Christians
in Egypt. Iscander: “I read information that the increase of the rate of Muslims is 2.3% for each
1000 persons and the rate among Christians less than 1%. I thought about it. There is a small
calculation, like to 2, 4, 16, 32 and 2, 4, 6, 8. So after 50 years from now we will have for each
Christian 32 Arab Muslims there and we will be finished within 50 years. These are facts. These
are numbers. You cannot escape. Numbers is different.”
CH (May 2012): When I interviewed Iscander in 1999 I asked him for references for the
numbers he was providing. This, however, he was not able to do. Many of the discussions with
Coptic activists go this way. They have read something somewhere, but tend not check their
sources and immediately draw conclusions. Iscander may not be wrong in the growth rates of
Muslims and Christians but it needs to be further investigated.
34.Hudá Tawfiq, “In the report of the American Foreign Ministry: Mubarak supported the
religious freedom for the Copts and has never refused a request to build a church,” Al-Ahrām
in Arab West Report, Week 37, Art 35, September 10, 1999. URL:
“The report of the American Foreign Ministry about religious freedom in the world confirmed
that President Hosni Mubarak implemented the necessary procedures to facilitate and support
religious freedom for Egyptian Copts.
The report, which was issued yesterday, pointed out that during the period of the ’90s, the
number of licenses for building and repairing churches in Egypt increased to 20 per year
compared to 5 licenses only in the 80’s, just as President Mubarak had delegated authority to the
governors to give licenses for building and repairing in their governorates.”
35.Hani Zayyat and Mustafá Sulayman, “The beginning of the first implementation of the law
of religious persecution. America calls upon Egypt to give the Baha’is the opportunity to
worship,” Al-Usbū‘ in Arab West Report, Week 39, Art 28, September 27, 1999. URL:
“[…] this report of the US State Department which was published on the 9th of this month
[September]. It is the first report after the Freedom from Religious Persecution Act was enacted
(the Don Nicolas - law).
There are about 70 thousand mosques, almost one half of which are still not licensed. Yet, the
government has declared that all mosques will be under its control by the year 2000. The report
adds "Muslims represent the majority of the population in Egypt, while Christians represent only
10% and Jews do not exceed 200 people. A small number of Shi’ite Muslims and Baha’is live in
Egypt. There are no legal obstacles preventing non-Muslims from embracing Islam. Yet,
Muslims confront legal problems if they desert Islam. In the past two decades, tens of Muslims
have been detained due to their apostasy from Islam. Those apostates have been exposed to
36.Yusuf Sidhum, “An intensive reading of the American report – 2,”a a in Arab West
Report, Week 41, Art 26, October 10, 1999. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“The detailed [US] report on Egypt states that the Egyptian constitution ensures the freedom of
belief and the right to exercise the religious rituals within certain limitations portrayed by the
As the majority of the Egyptians follows the Sunni Islam, we find that 10% of the population
follows the Coptic Orthodox Church with some Christian minorities that follow the Catholic, and
Evangelical denominations. In addition, there is a small group, which follows Judaism and a
small number following the "Shi’a" and "Baha’i" sects.
Although president Mubarak endorsed 230 requests to build new churches during the last
eighteen years, the Christians very much resent the deliberate and unlimited delay of the requests
before they are forwarded to the president for endorsement
The fruits of this joint committee between the Egyptian Awqaf-authority and the Coptic
Orthodox Awqaf resulted in retrieving 800 acres out of 1500 acres [of land] that had been
infringed upon. The committee continues to do its work to settle matters related to residual
37.Nageb Korolos, “Copts in Egyptian politics,”a a in Arab West Report, Week 41, Art
29, October 10, 1999. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-1999/week-41/29-copts-
“Dr. Mustafa Al-Fiqy mentioned in his book that Copts represent 10% of the Egyptian
population. Copts enjoyed some privileges at the time of the Fatimids.
In 1908 Akhnoukh Fanous tried to establish a party in response to the Islamic trend which tried
to exclude Copts from the Egyptian public and political life. Akhnoukh Fanous didn’t succeed as
Copts refused to join his party because Copts didn’t believe in sectarianism.
In November 1918 Fakhry Abd Al-Nour, Wissa Wasif and Tawfiq Andrawes complained to Said
Zaghloul that the Wafd party had no Copts among its members. They also nominated three Copts
to join the Wafd Party; Wasif Botros Ghaly, Senout Hanna and George Al-Khayat. Said
Zaghloul gave his approval and the three nominated Copts joined the Wafd party. When George
Khayat asked him directly about the Coptic role in the political movement he received from Said
Zaghloul the following answer. He said, ‘Copts and Muslims all have rights and duties,
Egyptians are all equal’.
When Said Zaghloul was chosen as the head of the Wafd party, new members joined the Wafd
like Mustafa Al-Nahas and Makram Ebeid.
In February 1922, Tawfiq Dos and Mahmoud Azmy asked to assign a number of the seats in
Parliament to minorities. The Coptic members of the Wafd opposed this suggestion. It was also
attacked by the two Coptic newspapers ‘Egypt’ and ‘Al-Watan’.”
38.Wa’el Lofty, “Hundred thousand Egyptians waiting for the coming of Jesus Christ,” Rose
al-Yūsuf in Arab West Report, Week 47, Art 34, November 20-26, 1999. URL:
“Safwat Al-Bayadi, the head of the Protestant Church in Egypt says that only twenty percent of
the members of the Protestant churches in Egypt believe that Christ will come at the end of this
There are no less than a hundred thousand Egyptians expecting the coming of Jesus Christ on the
last day of this year.
Revd. Dr. Safwat Al-Bayadi estimated the number of those believing in these ideas to be about
twenty percent of the members of the Protestant churches in Egypt. Official statistics say that the
total Protestant church membership in Egypt is about half a million.”
39.Charles M. Sinut, “Egypt minority cries out for justice,” Boston Globe in Arab West Report,
Week 51, Art 9, December 4, 1999. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-1999/week-
“A new article about the Koshh issue. The article places the Koshh incident in the context of
discrimination or even persecution of Christians in Egypt and quotes for this Hafez Abu Seada,
the secretary-general of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights.
The Coptic church, one of the oldest in Christendom, dates back to Saint Mark the Evangelist,
who founded it as early as the year 60. Copts make up between 5 and 10% of Egypt’s population
of 60 million and for at least a century have been steadily emigrating to Europe and America,
largely to escape poverty but also to evade discrimination - some would say persecution - amid a
rising tide of Islamic fundamentalism.”
40.Cornelis Hulsman, “‘The story of Al-Koshh is an example of police misbehavior against
Egyptians, not because they were Christian’ says Hafez Abu Seada, secretary-general of the
Egyptian Organization for Human Rights,” Religious News Service from the Arab World
(Arab West Report), Week 51, Art 10, December 22, 1999. URL:
“The RNSAW received the article of the Boston Globe from the American Council of Churches
with a request to comment on its content and so the RNSAW interviewed Hafez Abu Seada, the
secretary-general of the Egyptian Organization of Human Rights, about this article.
Q: "Some claim up to 1200 people have been tortured. What is your opinion?"
"A: Our report said "hundreds of people" but I cannot give a specific number but it means less
than 1000. It could be anywhere between 100 and 900. Bishop Wissa made a list of people who
were tortured but I have not seen that list. You have to be careful with numbers. Some people
who were tortured had marks in their bodies and we have photos of them but we cannot say that
1000 people were tortured in an equal way. Perhaps 100 were severely tortured but most others
were put under some form of pressure or were beaten up but they did not undergo specific torture
methods such as the use of electricity, whipping, etcetera."
Q: "Do you agree with Milad Hanna’s statements in the article?"
A: "I do not think Al-Koshh is a landmark case for the Copts. I disagree with him. Compare the
number of Christians who are tortured to the number of Muslims who are tortured. Christians
make perhaps 8% of the total Egyptian population while Christians who have been tortured do
not make 1% of the total number of tortures. Most of the people who have been tortured in the
past ten years were Islamists."
CH (May 2012): There are Islamists who have emigrated/escaped to the West but I do not think
their numbers are large.
Q: "Why did you reject the prize of the Freedom House?"
A: "I disagree with the policy of the Freedom House. They have said Al-Koshh and other issues
were examples of persecution of Christians in Egypt, but according to my point of view, we are
dealing with systematic police behavior against all Egyptians, not Christians only. Most arrests
in Al-Koshh were Christians, but it was not directed against Christians because they were
Christian. No, that is not true. Christians do have some problems in Egypt such as [in the area of]
church building and they have difficulties to obtain top positions in the government, but this also
applies to the Muslim Brotherhood movement and the leftist Tagammu Party, but Al-Koshh is
not the landmark case as Milad Hanna claims."
41.‘Azzazi ‘Ali ‘Azzazi, “One of the emigrant Copts accuses Dr. Nabil Luqa Bebawi of
hypocrisy!!” Al-Usbū‘ in Religious News Service from the Arab-World (Arab West Report),
Week 1, Art 9, January 3, 2000. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2000/week-1/9-one-
Emigrant Copts from the U.S. and Canada are citing statistics, small incidents, and dates to
affirm that there are real issues for Copts in Egypt. Copts within Egypt who are participating in
public life are denying the claims of expatriate Copts on the other hand. Dr. Selim Naguib of the
Canadian Coptic Association, belonging to the first category, wants Coptic issues to be handled
within the “Egyptian family,” thus giving expatriate Copts the right to mingle in Muslim-
Christian relations in Egypt. The author of this article disagrees with expatriate Copts
exaggerating issues in Egypt.
42.Muhammad ‘Abd Allah and Majdah Fathi, “Is there really persecution in Egypt?!” Al-Usbū‘
in Arab West Report, Week 3, Art 8, January 17, 2000. URL:
According to Gamal Asad Abdel-Malak, former People’s Assembly member: “The numbers that
enter military and police colleges: there is no law limiting these numbers, so they can be
increased. That will bring to existence the joint trust between sides. Also, for the sake of Egypt,
working the rule of accepting the other and the existence of the other must be done urgently.
That must be done in a framework of education, media and culture. How come that television is
not playing a role in bringing into existence the Egyptian character to deep root in the feelings of
the Muslim child that there is another [child who is a] Christian. Also, the Christian child would
know that he or she exists in a country that he or she must belong to. Such problems can be
easily solved by a governmental decree.
Novelist Magid Tobia sees that the most important problems of Copts are those concerning the
building and repair of Churches and equalizing them with mosques in the operation of issuing
He says: "There is also the problem of Copts taking places in some public positions. There is not
a single Coptic governor. What is even more dangerous is that what is called the National Party
did not nominate a single Copt in the last elections. This is a scandal because some Copts
succeeded by their own efforts and by people’s love for them, without being members of the
National Party that has conspired to make them fail. Then, the National Party is practicing
apartheid. Muslims were not screened from that discrimination as long as they are not members
of the Party. All that makes us lose the pointers that show the movement of society. That is why
we are surprised with unfortunate incidents like those of Al-Kosheh."
43.Rida al-Musallami, Husayn ‘Abd Rabbuh, “Religion is for God, business is for all,” Al-
Usbū‘ in Arab West Report, Week 3, Art 9, January 17, 2000. URL:
“Those who speak about the percentage of representation of Copts [in the parliament], open a
door for others to speak about the persecution of Muslims, as they do not own the appropriate
share of wealth in proportion to their population. Through the same framework, Muslims should
be afraid of Coptic capital that is dominating many vital sections all over Egypt.”
44.Marqus ‘Aziz Khalil, “No Father, the churches will not be pulled down, Egypt will survive,”
Watani in Arab-West Report, Week 7, Art 11, February 13, 2000. URL:
Father Marqus ‘Aziz Khalil responds in Watani to statements of a Coptic Orthodox priest from
Abu Qurqas. “The strange thing is that he said in his words that we reject what some of the
Americans say about protecting the Copts in Egypt and urging them to migrate.”
Father Marqus ‘Aziz Khalil responds that Copts need to solve their problems inside Egypt and
“the Copts fully refuse to accept a solution to this problem from any foreign country-either the
United States or any other state. It is a shame for the Copts to solve their problems in a way that
causes them to be seen in a way they themselves are not happy about.”
CH: It is unusual that the response to the priest from Abu Qurqas came in public. Differences in
opinions between priests are usually kept within the circle of the church. Father Marqus ‘Aziz
Khalil does not deny that (some) Americans do speak about protection and urging Copts to
migrate. It is sad there are people engaging in efforts to make Copts migrate.
44. Dr. Sa‘d al-Din Ibrahim, “The road of thorns from Al-Khanka 1972 to Al-Kosheh 2000,”
a a in Arab West Report, Week 7, Art 21, February 13, 2000. URL:
“The author argues that the non-implementation of the recommendations of the report by a
special committee convened to look into the communal violence in Al-Khanka in 1972, the Al-
Oteify report, led indirectly to the recent communal violence in Al-Kosheh, because the
underlying issues were not addressed.
To realize how these rumors can stir the feelings of Muslims in Al-Kosheh and the surrounding
villages, we have to remember that the village of Al-Kosheh is one of the big villages in the area
of Al-Balayna and Dar Al-Salaam. Surrounding it are some smaller villages. Al-Kosheh is
inhabited by 35,000 persons. Three quarters of the population are Coptic Christians and only one
quarter are Muslims. It means that Muslims are the numerical minority in Al-Kosheh. They are
also a poor minority if compared to their brothers the Copts who for a long time worked in
commerce and as civil servants. Al-Kosheh became an active center of trade for the surrounding
villages which are populated by a Muslim majority.”
45. Egyptian Organization of Human Rights, “Report of the Egyptian Organization of
Human Rights (EOHR) on the murder of Christians in al-Kosheh,” Religious News Service
from the Arab World (Arab West Report), Week 8, Art 15, February 15, 2000. URL:
“[…] published text of the EOHR’s Special Report on the Al-Kosheh incident.
Basic information: Al-Koshah village lies in Dar al-Salam Municipality, Sohag Governorate.
According to local council 1999 estimates, the population of al-Koshah is about 24,618 people,
of whom 12,586 are male and 12,032 are female. According to popular estimates, the number of
inhabitants is around 35,000 people (70% Christian and 30% Muslim).
The village has four mosques: al-Bakr, al-Karashwa, al-Sabak, Amr Bin al-Aas, and one small
praying corner named al-Sheikh Fath. There are also five churches (Angel Mikhail, Virgin Mary,
Abu Sifin, Abu Shenouda, and Mar-Girguis).
The local council consists of 21 members representing the villages of al-Koshah, al-Balabish, al-
Balabish al-Mostagadah, al-Balabish Kebly, al-Balabish al-Bahariya, and al-Batikh farm. On the
local council there are six members representing al-Koshah (three Muslims and three Copts).
There are about 532 professional workshops and commercial shops, 517 of which are owned by
Christians, while Muslims own the remaining 15.”
46. Mamduh al-Shaykh, “Statement of ‘The Hundred’ stirs strife,” Al-Usbū‘ in Arab West
Report, Week 9, Art 7, February 28, 2000. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“Al-Usboa publishes its attack on the ‘Statement of the Hundred’.
We will satisfy ourselves here with indications of how much this judgment that appeared in the
statement is wrong. For example:
Until 1992, there were 1442 churches in Egypt, while the ones registered with the state are [only]
500. The difference between these two numbers reflects the fact that the Hamayouni Law
[regulating the building of churches] does not exist anymore, and that the building of churches
does not show in [the lists of] official churches.
Among the 500 churches registered with the state, there are 286 Coptic Orthodox churches,
accounting for 55 percent [of all the registered churches]. The rest - 45 percent - belongs to the
Catholic Copts, Latin, Maronites and the Evangelical churches.
The percentage of "only" Orthodox Coptic NGOs is 40% of all the NGOs of Egypt.
The Christians in Egypt have a church for every 1352 citizens and the Muslims have a mosque
for every 1227 citizens.
Do these numbers reflect discrimination activities and policies against the Copts?
And why was the economical dimension of Copts within the society ignored while they have:
22.5% of the companies founded between 1974 and 1995.
20% of contractors’ companies in Egypt.
50% of consultancy offices.
60% of pharmacies.
45% of private [medical] practices.
35% of the membership of the American and German chambers of commerce.
25% of the elite jobs "doctors, pharmacists, engineers, lawyers, and vets".
20% of the investors of the [industrial] cities of Sadat and Tenth of Ramadan?!
A Dialogue or a Balance Statement?
The measurement standard then is the wealth of the Copts and their social status. Therefore, they
should have 45% of the countries official position to go with their 45% of the wealth of the
country which they have. This talk of "feeling persecuted" is a psychological attitude while the
statement talks about "an evident discrimination that cannot be missed by a fair observer."
CH (9 April 2012): It would be interesting if someone would find the author and interview him
for where he obtained his information from.
47. Jamal Shahin, “American allegation: "Egyptian government encourages persecution of
Copts,” Al-‘Arab in Arab-West Report, Week 13, Art 11, March 26, 2000. URL:
A short time before the visit of Mubarak to the USA a report of the American State Department
alleged that the Egyptian government is continuing its persecution of Copts in Egypt. The report
coincides with a Jewish anti-Egyptian campaign through paid-for advertisements. The article
mentions several items in this report including “the lack of an accurate census about the number
of Christian habitants in Egypt.”
48. Musafá Sulayman, “Coptic celebrities will participate in the election campaign,” Al-
Usbū‘ in Arab West Report, Week 17, Art 26, April 24, 2000. URL:
The article comments on the raising political awareness of the Copts:
“Copts are now more interested in political participation, as they became aware of the danger of
their political isolation, so that the church took a series of steps to push Copts to participate in
Despite the announcement of the government that Copts will be well represented in the next
parliament, some observers even expect the reservation of 10 seats for the Copts, the National
Democratic Party is still hesitating to nominate the Coptic candidates for the approaching
The government might dedicate another five seats for Copts to gain independently through free
49. Tal‘at Bast, “The Copts and the People’s Council elections,” A -A rār in Religious News
Service from the Arab World (Arab West Report), Week 30, Art 12, July 23, 2000. URL:
“Coptic leaders in 1923 “objected to the idea of representing the Copts by giving them a number
of seats [in parliament] in proportion to the population.” In 1952 during the Presidency of Gamal
Abdel Nasser, political parties disappeared and many Copts stepped back from public office.
They “started to emigrate after many socialist decisions were made leading to nationalization of
assets, along with laws on agricultural reform that limited ownership and led to the stripping of
assets of those Copts who had participated in public life and politics in the time prior to the
revolution.” President Hosni Mubarak, unlike President Sadat before him, “held up the slogan ‘I
am the President of all Egyptians, there is no difference between Copt and Muslim, all work
together under the Egyptian flag’. With this, national unity has returned to take its place once
more in society and that will give Copts hope for the future to invest millions of pounds in the
economy without fear (note that in recent statistics from America concerning business men the
Egyptian business man Onsi Sawirus and his family were ranked 194 in the list of the richest
people in the world and his riches come to 2.1 million dollars [ed: possibly a misprint; it is more
likely to be 2.1 billion] and is the only Egyptian on the list) as well as take part in the social and
political life of the country.”
50. Ihab Fathi, “Copts between elections and appointment,” Ākhir Sā‘ah in Arab West
Report, Week 31, Art 10, August 2, 2000. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“In the latest elections of 1995 the Copts had 57 candidates in 35 constituencies and five of them
reached the second round, however, they failed to be elected for the Parliament in the second
Al-Wafd was the favored party for the Copts before its alliance with the Muslim Brothers in the
1984 elections, after which a gap emerged between the party and the Copts. Al-Wafd had 9
Christian nominees and so did the Al-Ahrar Party, Al-Tagammu had just one Christian candidate
while the Naserists didn’t have a Christian nominee. Thus the parties had 14 Christian candidates
while 43 ran as independent candidates. Thus the total was 57 candidates in 35 constituencies.
When the Egyptian Copts failed to join the Parliament through elections the only solution was to
appoint some candidates.
Nabil Abdel Fatah, in charge of the annual report on religious status, thinks that frustrated
atmosphere has prevailed over all Egyptians, not just Christians, since 1952. The low percentage
of participation in Alexandria and Cairo, which reached 15% from the list of registered voters, is
51. Wa’el Lofty, “The percentage of the Copts in the Labor Party (p.17), Author: Khaled al-
Balashy,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West Report, Week 37, Art 6, September 9-15, 2000. URL:
“Khaled al-Balshani, from another party, revealed that the al-Tagammu Party had dedicated four
per cent of its lists to Copts. The general secretary of the party issued the first list with 50
candidates for 49 districts in 22 provinces. There were two candidates for Cairo, the Coptic
lawyer Mamdouh Nakhla, and Sayyed Abdel Radi.
27 of the 50 candidates will be candidates for labourers’ seats and 21 for peasants’, whilst two
will compete for that of category (In the Egyptian People’s Assembly, there are three groups,
namely, labourers, peasants and categories. The last group is comprised of people other than
labourers and peasants, such as, doctors, engineers and lawyers. In the elections, candidates are
competing for one a seat of one of the three groups).”
52. Manal Lashin and Salah Shalabi (respectively), “Only three Copts are on the lists of the
National Democratic Party,” Media Review in Arab West Report, Week 38, Art 9, September
17, 2000. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2000/week-38/9-only-three-copts-are-
“Today, Minister Kamal Al-Shazli, the General Secretary of the National Democratic Party
(NDP), will declare, at a press conference, in his office in the People’s Assembly, all the names
of the candidates of the party. Al-Arabi got to know that the lists of the NDP contain only three
Copts, namely, Dr. Youssef Butros Ghali, the Minister of Economy, in Cairo, Asmat Nathan in
Alexandria and Medhat Fou’ad Shehata in Al-Behara.
A parliamentary source is expecting an increase in the number of Coptic representatives in the
People’s Assembly, through the nomination of another six Copts, by a presidential decree. Four
women would be among the six nominated Copts, including the former representative, Yousria
Loza, Minister Nadia Makram Ebeid and Laila Takla. The source affirmed that the NDP is not
choosing its candidates on a religious basis and that there is a chance for all.
In addition, Al-Wafd Party is trying to include the greatest number of Coptic candidates in its
lists, which is expected to be seven. However, it settled the matter with two only.”
53. Usamah Salamah, “For Show and propaganda, their election is of no importance.
Political parties are holding signs ‘Looking for Copts’,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West Report,
Week 39, Art 12, September 23, 2000. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“The NDP has leaked through unofficial press-releases, that their ballot tickets will include at
least 7 Copts. The Wafd-party spoke of a historical heritage, which dictates a special place for
Christian nominees. The Tagammu Party is the loudest in calling for Coptic rights and
denouncing their persecution, even the Muslim Brotherhood has declared that they will nominate
a Copt and support him.
Out of 444 nominees the NDP, ruling party, could only find three Coptic nominees to place on
their ballot tickets. The Tagammu Party has only 5 and the Wafd Party only 9 candidates. The
Nasserist Party could not find any Copts to place on their ballot tickets, despite many efforts to
do so. All the parties have exerted great effort in searching for Coptic nominees and yet come up
with only this small number.
The NDP nominated only three, one from Cairo, the present Minister of Economy Dr. Youssef
Boutros Ghali. And if we consider him as a member of the cabinet instead of as a Copt than we
are left with only two original Copts; Mr. Adel Nathan from Alexandria and Medhat Fou’ad
Shehata from Wadi El-Natroun, Beheira district. Both are businessmen. The first had no political
activity in the past nor was he even active in the church, but recently he financed the renovation
of the Sidi Bishr mosque.
The NDP party, however, couldn’t find anymore nominees in the rest of Egypt. In fact the total
number of Coptic nominees on the ballot tickets is less than 1% of the 444 nominations. This
contradicts the statements made by the NDP leadership, that the number of Christians or Copts
will not be small.
As for the nine from the Wafd party, which is 5 % out of 250, this is not in line with their
declared position and their slogan of "the religion is for God and the nation is for all." In fact the
Wafd has been trying to increase the number of nominees, but many of the public figures they
contacted have declined to be nominated.
Mr. Mounir Fakhri went on to add that in the last elections the Wafd party nominated as many as
16 Coptic candidates, which was in fact 3 times more than all the other parties put together.”
54. Jamal As‘ad ‘Abd al-Malik, “How could Copts be represented in parliament?” Al-Akhbār
in Arab West Report, Week 41, Art 9, October 8, 2000. URL:
“Asaad believes that "the change in the political environment changed the basis of the selection,
which resulted in the election of deputies who don’t honor a lot of Egyptians." The entry of
Copts into parliament "became difficult with the change in the political criteria for the choice,
within the sectarian environment produced by the violent incidents" he said.
"On this basis the National Party, only presented three candidates for the elections, less than 0.7
percent. One of them was a Coptic minister, who was the candidate for a district with a high
percentage of Copts. The other parties did the same thing," Asaad added.
Independent Coptic candidates used to present themselves in districts with a high percentage of
Copts, in order to gain their support, an attitude which creates a sectarian environment. Then no
Coptic candidate will be able to be elected as Coptic support will not reach the 51 percent
required to elect an independent candidate. In order for Copts to be represented in parliament, the
author proposed "the formation of Coptic cadres, which can carry out political work, have a
strong relationship with the public, and adopt clear political stands towards the public’s problems
in order to solve them. But I don’t think that this kind exists, due to the isolation of Copts inside
55. Muná al-Mallakh, Ahmad Ayyub, and Muhammad Ramadan, “Problems face Coptic
candidates in the coming elections,” A - u a ar in Arab West Report, Week 42, Art 4,
October 13, 2000. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2000/week-42/4-problems-
“Seventy-four Copts are running for the coming parliamentary elections. This number is
somehow large. The National Democratic Party (NDP) nominated three Copts, namely, Dr.
Youssef Boutros Ghali, the Minister of Economy, Esmat Nathan and Medhat Fouad Shehata.
The most famous Coptic candidate of the eight Copts elected by Al-Wafd Party is businessman
Mounier Fakhri Abdel Nour. For its part, the Tagammu Party nominated seven Copts, amongst
who are Mamdouh Nakhla, Ekram Labeeb and Wagih Shukri. The rest of the 74 candidates are
running as independents.”
56. Usamah Salamah, “Against Sheikh Matloof,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West Report, Week
44, Art 10, October 28, 2000. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2000/week-44/10-
“This article gives an overview of the religious events that took place in Egypt since the
establishment of Rose Al-Youssef 75 years ago […].
[…] precisely in 1926, Wissa Wassef was appointed as the secretary of Representatives
Assembly. Two years later, he became its head. He was the first Copt to be appointed in such a
position with the backing of Muslim members. In the same year, when Rose Al-Youssef was
first issued, 15 Copts were able to win in the elections. In 1929, the number increased to 23.”
57. “Sfeir: the existence of Christianity in the Middle East is a matter of life or death,” A -
ayāh in Arab-West Report, Week 48, Art 13, November 21, 2000. URL:
The Maronite Patriarch and Cardinal stated at a meeting of heads of churches that the existence
of Christians in the East, at the beginning of the third millennium, is a matter of life or death for
them. Lebanon is an example. The majority of the Lebanese who emigrated in the last ten years
are Christians. This also applies to other countries in the East. Sfeir "this is the bitter truth that
cannot be ignored." He wondered "how can it be ignored while we see this continuous migration
that uproots our children from their villages and cites and sweeps them away to the unknown."
This means a decrease in the number of the Christians of the East, that was once all Christian.
58. Rasha Husni, “A Brotherhood party. A threat to Egyptian political life?” Al-Qāhirah in
Arab West Report, Week 52, Art 5, December 19, 2000. URL:
According to Prof. Rifa’at El-Sa’id, secretary general of the Tagammu Party: “(…) it is noted
that some parties, namely the Wafd and Tagammu, have acquired more seats in the recent
elections than in the previous parliament, while the Brotherhood won only 17 seats instead of the
previous 38. Unlike what many observers believe, this fact shows that Islamism is retreating in
And even those seventeen seats were acquired using illegal means. Voters supporting the
Brotherhood have given their votes more than once. I have documents proving that fact. Their
supporters were caught with more than one identification card, trying to vote more than once.”
59. Dr. Rudolph Yanni, “Conversions of Christians to Islam,” Religious News Service from
the Arab World in Arab-West Report, Week 1, Art 4, January 9, 2001. URL:
The Coptic Church faces the issue of Coptic conversion to Islam due to political and economic
factors as well as family issues and a lack of Christian education, among other reasons.
60. Hayam Jamil, “Press review: The meeting with his holiness Pope Shenouda III was one
of love,” Arab-West Report, Week 6, Art 9, February 10, 2001. URL:
Pope Shenouda III gave a speech in a seminar held at the Book Fair. Someone asked a question
about the census count of Copts in Egypt. The pope responded to this question, "We do not try to
count our numbers because we do not want people to think that Copts are thinking of their
political rights that [are] based on the increasing number of them," adding, "We are after spiritual
not political gains."
61. Nabil ‘Abd al-‘Aziz and Ahmad al-Mansi, “Emigrant Copts and the money of the
church,” Al- aydā in Arab West Report, Week 9, Art 25, February 27, 2001. URL:
“The priest of the Hanging Church said that the State gives no allocation to the Church, which is
only funded by the donations of its children. He denied that emigrant Copts send lots of money
to the Egyptian Church. The pastor of the Church of Ain Shams said that the financial affairs of
the Church are run according to a certain system, which is followed by all churches. Lawyer
Mamdouh Nakhla said the Church is dealt with as any commercial institution and is not given
Father Khalil added "The money of some churches covers their services and that of some others
does not. Small churches suffer from a limited income. I should say here that some people donate
a fixed amount of money, others donate according to their potential. However, the majority do
not donate fixed amounts of money."
62. Cornelis Hulsman, “Demolition of a building belonging to the church is followed by
international protest and a permit,” Religious News Service from the Arab World (Arab West
Report), Week 8, Art 9, March 5, 2001. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
The article deals with building of churches:
“[…] tens of churches have been built in the past years without government permission and
without problems. Other churches have obtained a permit for either building or repair. The Egypt
Country Report on Human Rights Practices -2000, released by the US Bureau of Democracy,
Human Rights, and Labor in February 2001 states that "the Government issued 29 permits for
church-related construction in the year 2000, including 4 permits for the construction of new
churches, 19 permits for churches previously constructed without authorization, and 6 permits
for the demolition and reconstruction of existing churches. In addition, the Government reported
that local authorities issued more than 350 permits for church-related repairs during the year."
Competent informed sources have assured us that the governor of Qalyubia has recently issued
decrees to demolish 18 illegal buildings in Begam area, Shubra al-Kheima which were
constructed randomly and without licenses stipulated by the law.
On February 24 - 25, 2001, concerned authorities executed 12 of those issued decrees, while the
other remaining 6 are to be carried out soon.”
63. ‘Abd Allah Kamal, “Copts in America accuse four American residents of persecuting
them,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab-West Report, Week 11, Art 5, March 17-23, 2001. URL:
Dr. Yacoub is Christian. He did not migrate escaping claimed persecution, but seeking the wider
scientific atmosphere that made him what he is today. He did not attack Egypt. […] Only losers
do this, those who fled their home fearing scandals or running from guilt for something they did,
then turning into religious freedom activists [...].
I have much information about those calling themselves the Copts in the countries of emigration.
I will give only one example, without disclosing names. He has a loud voice in America these
days. His father is a pastor from Upper Egypt, working in a foster care institution [Editor: the
reference is obvious: Joseph Asad from the Freedom House. His father is pastor in the Lilian
Trasher orphanage in Assiut]. The son had an ethical scandal in this institution, so he left Egypt
trying to run from it. He is claiming there is persecution in Egypt, forgetting that his family still
live there, enjoying citizenship rights and freedom to worship, trying to wash away their disgrace
Another example, M.Q in Shubra, a Coptic lawyer working in Egypt and running a human rights
center there, can travel to the US for an unknown reason, and become another lie-telling
machine, without being asked to prove what he says... [Editor: The reference is obviously to
Maurice Sadeq. He was the only Coptic lawyer with a human rights center in Shubra who left for
the US.] Needless to say that the first people who know that they are all lies are the ones telling
them [...]. Michael Meunier, supervising an internet website, tried to talk the American
committee out of coming to Egypt, claiming that they had enough data on the persecution [of
Copts]. He feared the committee would see the truth, and realize that such people were working
for their own interests, regardless of the nation and its elements.
The committee [USCIRF] is not only visiting Egypt, but also Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Palestine.
It is not a division of the congress, although it contains some Congress people. It has nothing to
do with President Mubarak’s visit to the US. Therefore, it will be most welcome to meet
whoever it pleases in Egypt, only to realize the lies of these Copts in the countries of emigration
If there are objections against some law, it does not follow that it could be overlooked until it is
changed... The president is always giving permission to build new churches, something no one
64. “A Christian encyclopedia: The number of Muslims increased with 7% during the last
century,” A -Sharq a -A sa in Arab West Report, Week 12, Art 23, March 22, 2001. URL:
“According to statistics, published in the last revised edition of "The International Christian
Encyclopedia," the number of Muslims has increased with almost 7% of the world’s population
during the last century, while that of Christians decreased.
According to these statistics, Muslims account for 1.2 billion and Christians for one billion
(Editor: This figure is as given in the article, but it should be two billion for the following
statements to be correct) out of the world’s population. This means that the percentage of
Muslims to Christians is two to three, while in year 1900 it was one to three.
The same source shows that the ratio of Muslims out of the world population increased from
12.3% in 1900, to 19.6% while the ratio of Christians decreased from 32.3% in 1900, to 31.2% at
the present time. As for the other religions, there were slight changes in their ratios.”
65. Vickie Langohr, “Frosty Reception for US Religious Freedom Commission in Egypt,”
Religious News Service from the Arab World (Arab West Report) Week 12, Art 13, March
29, 2001. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2001/week-12/13-frosty-reception-us-
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) met with Pope
Shenouda, the head of the Coptic Church, and the Sheikh of the Azhar but otherwise was almost
universally boycotted by both Christians and Muslims. The members of the Commission waited
in vain for members of Egyptian political parties and civil society groups to arrive at the
commission’s welcoming gala.
Egypt’s Christians, the overwhelming majority of whom are Copts, are variously estimated at
between six and ten percent of the population. The Coptic issue has long been politically
Only three Christians serve among the 444 elected politicians in the new parliament. Two of the
three are wealthy entrepreneurs, and wealth may be the best chance for Coptic candidates to
break into the upper echelons of political power.
More pernicious than political under-representation of Copts is the charge that they are singled
out as victims in communal violence.”
66. Islam Hulwah, “Why did the Pope go back on his decision about refusing to meet the
American Committee?” a t a -Ummah in Arab West Report, Week 15, Art 20, April 13,
2001. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2001/week-15/20-why-did-pope-go-back-
“A TV discussion between two Copts, Gamal Asad and Mamdouh Nakhla, nearly turned into a
dispute on air. The subject of the discussion was the visit of the US Commission on International
Religious Freedom. Nakhla was of the opinion that the Commission’s visit was one with good
intentions while Asad considered the visit to be an illegal intervention in the other’s affairs.
The discussion escalated when it moved to the issue of the Christian minority in Egypt. While
Nakhla stressed that there is really a Christian minority in Egypt, relying on the fact that
Christians in Egypt count for only 15%, Asad believes this opinion to be a "sectarian concept,"
saying "Population does not matter."
As for Coptic representation in Parliament and the fact that there are only seven representatives
out of 454, Nakhla asked for Christians to count for 10% of the members of Parliament,
wondering how three of the seven could be elected while the other four are appointed.
Asad believed that "This is not the problem of the government. You [Nakhla] nominated yourself
at the last elections and failed because the sectarian climate does not allow a Copt to win 50.5%
of the votes. That is why I believe that the solution lies in an unconditional list [in the elections],
the system because of which I was elected twice as a member of Parliament.’”
67. Trevor Mostyn, “Lead Book Review. A love letter to Egypt’s ancient Christians,” The
Tablet in Arab-West Report, Week 15, Art 37, April 14, 2001. URL:
Book review of John Watson’s "Among the Copts" who believes that “today there are some six
million Copts out of a total Egyptian population of 50 million”.
68. Paul S. Rowe, “Four Guys and a Fax Machine? Diasporas, New Information
Technologies, and the Internationalization of Religion in Egypt,” Journal of Church and
State in Arab-West Report, Week 17, Art 14, 2001. URL:
“Academic article on the impact of the Coptic lobby outside Egypt, a relatively small group of
people who use the latest communication technology to increase their voice.
The experience of Egyptian Christians, known as Copts does not diverge from this larger trend in
many regards. Despite forming a fairly large religious group within the Egyptian populace
(controversial government estimates consider Copts to make up approximately 5.8 percent of the
Egyptian population, numbering just over three million--the church would likely hold to a more
generous 10 percent, or 6-7 million.(footnote in article)
Copts tend to accept integration into the larger Egyptian polity and are largely seen as a
quiescent group. Although the politicization of religion has not been unknown in Egypt, in large
part it has been a result of economic turmoil and tendencies on the part of the government toward
Islamicization of political institutions.
In the wake of serious sectarian quarrels in the 1930s and 1940s, Christians have accepted a
position of communal subordination in exchange for peaceful coexistence with the Muslim
majority. Only during times of major crises has this peace been broken with mass protest and
69. Albair ‘Azir Barih, “Illegal building of churches, why?” A - u a ar in Arab West
Report, Week 17, Art 22, April 27, 2001. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“[…] despite the fact that the largest number of churches have been built during President
Mubarak’s time, the last two years has witnessed the building of an even greater number than the
last ten years. Still, many prefer to go ahead with building their churches without obtaining
licenses, and then apply pressure on the government to legalize them. All the churches in
Qalyoubiya (thirty of them) were built this way!
"When I was appointed bishop of Shoubra Al-Kheima, there were 18 churches, all built without
licenses. During my 23 years in Shoubra Al-Kheima, 12 more churches have been built the same
way after reaching an understanding with security. I am happy with the current method because
it is simply the best and quickest. Building a church according to the presidential decree requires
many, many documents, some of which are hard to acquire. For example, the building could be
on unplanned land, or land whose legal owner is not known, although everybody knows it
belongs to the church...” says Bishop Marcos of Shoubra Al-Kheima.
[…] a number of Christian clergymen believe building churches is not such a difficult task...
Catholic bishop Kyrillos of Assiut explains, ..". Through presidential decree 15 licenses for
building and restoring houses for monks and social service centers were obtained. There are no
problems in Assiut as General Ahmed Hammam, governor of Assiut, is giving orders [because]
of the necessity of enforcing the presidential decision without finding complications, applying
the spirit of the law more than its text. Engineering departments in the governorate are giving all
the help they can to issue the licenses. The Catholic Bishopric in Assiut does not break the
law."In Assiut, there are 38 Catholic churches, eleven nunneries, and three monasteries, all built
legally. The number of worshippers suits the number of available churches. Moreover, the
governor is taking care of seven Coptic bishoprics and bishops in Assiut. We have just celebrated
completion of renovations to a church near Darunka Monastery area last month."
According to statistics, there are 8,000 churches for the three denominations: Orthodox, Catholic,
and Evangelical. 5,333 churches and administrative buildings have been renovated during
President Mubarak’s time. 250 presidential decrees for building new churches have been issued.
This number of restorations is unprecedented in centuries.”
70. “Seventy thousand Copts counterfeit police reports to get American citizenship,” a t a -
Ummah in Arab West Report, Week 29, Art 12, July 18, 2001. URL:
“Coptic sources in California discovered that about seventy thousand young Coptic Egyptian
men claimed that they were persecuted and submitted false reports stamped with fake stamps
about their wives being raped to get access to work and obtain American citizenship.
RNSAW comment: We know of individual Coptic Christians who forged documents to go the
West. We know of one particular Immigration lawyer (Canadian-Egyptian) who is involved in
such forgery but from where does the number 70.000 come? That number may need to be
71. Cornelis Hulsman, “Reviving an Ancient Faith; two strong-willed reformers bring Coptic
Orthodoxy back to life,” Arab-West Report, Week 51, Art 13, December 28, 2001. URL:
"Egypt is a predominantly Muslim country with the largest Christian community in the Arab
World. No recent statistics have been published about the number of Christians in Egypt, either
by the Egyptian government nor by the church. Bishops and priests give estimates varying from
12 to 20%.”
72. Usamah Salamah, “Restrictions on the building of churches are a must... Positions should
be distributed according to efficiency and not religion,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West Report,
Week 52, Art 4, December 29, 2001-January 1, 2002. URL:
“The article gives the opinion of Nabil Luka Bebawy concerning the problems facing Copts in
Egypt and how to solve them.
The number of Coptic ministers in the pre-revolution governments was not more than two,
taking notice that Mustafa Al-Nahas headed the largest government during this period. That was
in 1950 and it included seventeen ministries. There was only one Coptic minister among them.
During the time of Sadat, the number of Coptic ministers increased to two or three ministers in
The percentage has remained the same during the time of Mubarak, while the total number of
ministers ranged between 30 and 33 ministers in every government.
Bebawy explains that the solution for the problem of positions depends on making selections
according to efficiency and loyalty and those who feel injustice may turn to the courts [for
Appointment according to religious bases opens the door for discussing the percentage of Copts
in economic, vocational activities.
It should be noted that Copts own 60% of the pharmacies, 20% of the contracting business and
30% of trading companies. Those percentages are bigger than the percentage of Copts in the total
number population. Thus, we will face more complicated problems. At the same time demanding
a certain percentage of positions to be given to Copts will open the door for conflicts among
Christian denominations, as each denomination will ask for a certain percentage.”
73. Cornelis Hulsman, “Attacks of Coptic activists on Dr. Milad Hanna questioned,”
Religious News Service from the Arab World in Arab West Report, Week 6, Art 12, February
12, 2002. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2002/week-6/12-attacks-coptic-
activists-dr-milad-hanna-questioned (See the comments on the Egypt Country Report on
Human Rights Practices - 2000, RNSAW, 2001, week 08A, supplement.)
“[…] Meunier exaggerates when he writes about 12 million Copts (on a population of approx. 75
million this would be 16%). Pope Shenouda certainly has a good estimate of the number of
Copts in Egypt but he did not supply Meunier with that number. Bishop Yo’annis, the secretary
of the Pope, recently said in a meeting with a delegation of the Dutch organization World
Servants that the Pope has asked all bishops to provide him with figures from their dioceses. The
number is, however, not released in public. Pope Shenouda knows the number is much smaller
than Meunier wants us to believe. Dr. Milad Hanna knows about a survey I carried out in 1985,
asking bishops for the estimates of Orthodox Christians in their dioceses. The numbers collected
translated in around eight percent of the total population. A percentage based on a calculation of
figures obtained from the bishops themselves. Other research shows the figure may even be less
(See the comments on the Egypt Country Report on Human Rights Practices - 2000, RNSAW,
2001, week 08A, supplement).”
74. Cornelis Hulsman, “Recent Development,” Arab-West Report, Week 7, Art 1, March 4,
2002. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2002/week-7/1-recent-development.
The article deals with Muslim-Christian tensions in Beni Walmis related to church building.
“The Copts obtained support from outside their village to change their little village church, with
a government permit, into a beautiful church, which far exceeded the beauty of the local village
mosque. Muslims, who form the majority in this village, had for years a mosque that looked
better than the church. Suddenly, with the money flowing in from outside the village, the
appearances started to change. The church of the Christian minority, forming perhaps 30% of the
local population, had become more beautiful than the mosque. This resulted in jalousy. Jalousy
in simple minded rural communities in Upper Egypt can create havoc, that is not just related to
75. Yusuf Sidhum, “Winds of change,” Watani International in Arab-West Report, Week 10,
Art 7, March 10, 2002. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2002/week-10/7-winds-
Saudi Prince Talal Bin Abdel-Aziz wrote an article in the Lebanese Al-Nahar paper on January
29 titled, “The Survival of Christian Arabs”. He wrote that it is a disaster that Arab Christians
leave their homeland which can jeopardize the peace and stability of the Arab world. He added
that the survival of Arab Christians is the only plausible reply to Israel´s claim to the one-religion
and one-race and is an Arab vote for democracy and freedom and against civil wars.
76. Cornelis Hulsman, “Do Coptic emigrants not care about the Palestinians? An overview of
subjects in Coptic Daily Digest in the period March 1 - April 5, 2002,” Religious News
Service from the Arab World (Arab West Report), Week 14, Art 11, April 20, 2002. URL:
“Osama Salama´s words are sharp, full of anger about Coptic emigrants.
There are some moderate voices on the Copts Daily Digest but as soon as they concern opinions
about Islam they are quickly silenced by the more radical Copts. That’s not an atmosphere that
helps creating an understanding between Muslims and Christians.
Overview of all articles in the Copts Daily Digest, March 1 - April 5, 2002:
"According to a survey done among the church in Alexandria, only 10 % of Christians attend the
Church, What happened to the rest?" It is therefore not good Christians quarrel among
“The objective of the advertisement is clear. "Any American foreign aid to Egypt must be tied to
Egypt’s performance on human rights. How much longer do the Copts have to wait before the
Egyptian government finally addresses their problems? What does it take for Egypt, and the rest
of the world, to acknowledge that the 12 million Coptic Christians (15-20% of Egypt’s
population) are suffering? Is it because Copts will not blow themselves up, or blow others up,
that nobody seems to take note?"
N. Rizk posted a text on Muslims and the USA. "In Egypt, Coptic Christians who (used to)
comprise about 10 percent of the population are a persecuted minority and have been so for at
least decades […]”.
77. Hamdi Rizq, “Friday men carry diplomas below the standard of a university degree,” A -
u a ar in Arab West Report, Week 14, Art 2, May 4, 2002. URL:
“According to official statistics, there are 73,000 mosques under the control of the Ministry of
Waqfs and 12,000 mosques that will be put under the ministry’s control in future. In addition,
there are about 50,000 imams and preachers who meet the requirements. This is about two thirds
of the total number of mosques already under the ministry’s control and those which will be put
under control in future. This means that there is a one third that can fall in the hands of Islamic
groups, and here lies the danger.”
78. Ed Rizq Allah, “A book review for Among the Copts,” Coptic Daily Digest in Arab-West
Report, Week 23, Art 16, June 11, 2002. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“Egypt is home for the largest indigenous Christian population in the Middle East that by some
estimates is about 15-20% of the total population” (CH: this is the estimate of the author of this
“In addressing the issue of the size of the population of the Copts in Egypt, the book provides a
rather short review for a major issue affecting contemporary Copts. The book indicates that
given conflicting figures of the census data, and the vagaries of politics and hazards of census
taking, it is better not to know exactly how many Copts there are. The population of the Christian
population affects its social standing, political prospects and influence. Militant Islamic groups
have tended to discount the number of the Christians in Egypt, as it suits their political agenda.
Sympathizers with militant Islam within the ranks of the government of Egypt have kept the data
of the census of the Copt as if it were a state secret (Editor: I haven’t seen any statements of
militant Islamic groups about the number of Christians in Egypt - Christians are generally
ignored in their statements. It is true that the data of the last census of the Copts is kept secret.
But does this have its origin with sympathizers of militant Islam? That’s questionable with a
government that tries to keep Islamists out of functions of influence. The reason is most likely
different. Could it be that the government just tries to avoid a discussion about the number of
Copts?) The Copts have long contended that their number was deliberately discounted.
“The book is a good and critical review for the cotemporary history and status of the Copts in the
late 20th century. It reviews how an ancient Christian community is facing a rising tide of
intolerance and violence by Islamic militancy and terrorism, and its attempts to cope with the
daily pressures of discrimination and persecution.”
CH (May 2012): The author spends a considerable amount of space in his bookreview on the
number of Copts, more so than Watson does in his book. This shows how important this subject
is to this author, a Coptic activist (living in the US or Canada?) and frequent contributor to the
Copts Daily Digest.
79. Usamah Salamah, “Twenty-three Egyptian bishops shepherd Coptic churches in the
world,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West Report, Week 26, Art 13, June 29-July 5, 2002. URL:
“Pope Shenouda consecrated Egyptian archpriest Miti’awes Al-Antoni as bishop for Sidney,
Australia to shepherd Copts there. According to the traditions of the Coptic Orthodox Church,
the name of archpriest Miti’awes Al-Antoni was changed to Bishop Daniel Al-Antoni, in relation
to St. Antonious monastery where he lived as a monk.
Bishop Daniel became a monk 18 years ago. He graduated from the Faculty of Engineering. He
was deputy of the Bishopric of Sudan and served in Egyptian churches in Ireland and Scotland.
The consecration of Bishop Daniel raised the number of Egyptian bishops serving Coptic
churches abroad to 23. They cover the 100 Coptic churches in America, Canada, Australia,
Africa and the Gulf Sates. In addition to these 23 bishops, there are 200 priests and archpriests.
There are 60 Coptic churches in the USA, 22 in Australia, 12 in Canada, four in England, and
other churches in most European and African countries, the Gulf States and the Lebanon. Pope
Shenouda was able to make the Orthodox the eighteenth acknowledged religious denomination
in the Lebanon.”
80. Nabil Luqa Bibawi, “Copts abroad and a new vision,” Al-Ahrām in Arab West Report,
Week 27, Art 11, July 4, 2002. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2002/week-27/11-
The author claims: “The number of Copts abroad has reached two million, the majority living in
America and Canada.” And continues: “No-one can doubt the loyalty of these Copts to Egypt,
nevertheless, a very small number of them perform suspicious acts such as publishing paid anti-
Egypt advertisements in newspapers with Jewish tendencies.
Each of these advertisements costs about $100,000, which is equal to half a million Egyptian
pounds. These advertisements are full of false news about Coptic women being raped and Copts
Such paid advertisements taint Egypt’s reputation and depict Copts living in a jungle where they
are oppressed by the government.”
81. Andrew Hammond, “Christians evoke Pharaohs in holy family parade,” Reuters in Arab
West Report, Week 32, Art 12, July 28, 2002. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“(We received this article from the author who participated in our Holy Family tour in June this
In recent years, Christian celebrations of their stay in now mainly Muslim Egypt have played a
key role in a Coptic revival, seen as a reaction to rising Islamic consciousness in the region since
Today, Egypt is an Arabic-speaking country where Muslims form at least 90 percent of a
population of some 70 million.
Many people were killed but now the situation is calm," said Demetrius, who estimated that 25
percent of the local population is Christian. (Editor: not only the bishop stated this but also many
local Christians we met.)
"Now it is much better," he added. "It is beginning to turn back to normal."
82. Muhammad al-Tahlawi, “Egyptian Christians didn´t fall in the trap of Zionist
temptation,” October (Magazine) in Arab West Report, Week 31, Art 9, August 4, 2002.
“Islamic thinker Muhammad Emara praised the national stance of the Coptic minority in Egypt,
and their wise behavior against imperialistic attempts to use minorities to fracture societies. He
explains the difference between the usage of the word “minorities” in the West and in Islamic
societies. He stresses that non-Muslims living in Islamic societies have the same rights and
duties as Muslims.
A: The word minority in western societies refers to people who are different in their culture,
identity, and ethnic roots than the majority who live in the same country. But in Egypt it is
different. I cite here Bishop Mousa’s words: "In Egypt we don’t feel that we are a minority as we
are not different from our Muslim brothers, we are all Egyptians, the same blood runs in our
veins since the time of the Pharaos." Thus minority here refers to numbers only. The Islamic
stance towards minorities is a noble reverse of the previous example of the Byzantines [Rum]
who believed that all others were barbarians and persecuted them, including the Christians.”
83. Nirmin Fawzi, “Pope Shenouda: Do Christians not have the right to be represented fairly
in parliament?” Arab West Report, Week 44, Art 7, November 16, 2002. URL:
“Pope Shenouda issued a statement to the members of Cairo Lions Club that what the
constitution says about the equality between Muslims and Christians is one thing and the actual
fact of the matter is another. He added that Copts have the right to be represented fairly in the
In answering a question about citizenship rights in Egypt, he said: "There is a difference between
general rules and the practical application of these rules. The constitution and the law state that
Muslims and Christians in Egypt are equal in rights and duties. However, the living reality is
different. For example, from among 444 candidates for parliament, only three Christians
succeeded. One of them has been deposed because he holds two nationalities (he refers to
businessman Rami Lakh who holds both the Egyptian and the French nationalities)." He
wondered: "Do Christians have not the right to be fairly represented in parliament?
In an article titled "Pope Shenouda brings to the surface the problem of Copts and the occupation
of prominent official positions," Yasser al-Zayyat of a t a -Ummah comments on Coptic
participation in the political life in Egypt. He writes that in 1923 Copts refused the idea of
relative representation in parliament (fixed number of seats for Copts). They chose to exercise
full citizenship. At that time they were very active on the political level. Between the years 1938
and 1942, there were about 27 Christian representatives in parliament.
However, the number of Copts in parliament decreased bit by bit after the revolution of July
1952. Coptic political isolation reached its peak at the time of President Sadat, whose
relationship with Pope Shenouda was not good. During Sadat’s time, when the Islamic groups
were very active, Christians retreated from the political life and resorted to the church.
Dr. Muhammad Emara responded to the pope’s statement concerning Coptic rights to have a fair
representation in the parliament in an interview that the Jezira Channel ran with him. He said:
"Copts possess about 40% of Egypt’s fortune while they only account for 6% of the population
in Egypt." This fact has been pointed out before by the Christian researcher Nabil Luqa Bebawi
in his book "The Problems of Copts in Egypt and their Solutions."
84. Yusuf Sidhum, “A steady haemorrhage,” Watani International in Arab-West Report,
Week 44, Art 10, October 27, 2002. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2002/week-
Last March we eagerly printed an article written by the Saudi Prince Talal Bin Abdel - Aziz on
the The Survival of Arab Christians, in which he discussed the positive role of Arab Christians
and their civilisational and cultural contribution to their mother Arab societies and cultures. The
Prince criticized the treatment they were accorded - definitely unequal to that accorded to the
majority Muslim population - leading to a steady flow of migration of Arab Christians from their
native lands. He called for a reconsideration of the present state of affairs, with the objective of
preserving the richness and variety of Arab society, and in the process, extending bridges of
understanding and acceptance to the international community, especially concerning Muslims
The Prince’s thought appeared as a lonely ray of light amid a wasteland of hate and non-
acceptance of "the other." Sidhum then refers to a letter he received in response to the article of
the Prince, someone who had returned from Saudi Arabia. The letter writer writes of a “climate
of inequality and continuous harassment that plaques their (=Christians) everyday lives is a well-
known reality that can no longer be denied or cloaked in flowery rhetoric.”
85. Nirmin Fawzi, “Does Pope Shenouda ask for fixed percentage of Coptic representatives
in the Parliament?” Media Review in Arab West Report, Week 45, Art 7, November 16,
2002. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2002/week-45/7-does-pope-shenouda-ask-
“The statement which Pope Shenouda has given to the members of the Cairo Lions Club
concerning the conditions of Copts is still causing controversy (See RNSAW, Week44A, Art.6).
Does the Pope support the representation of a fixed percentage of Copts in the Parliament?
Usama Salama of Rose al-Youssef writes that the statement of the pope is ambiguous. Some
Arab and Western media outlets have exploited the statement and reported that the pope asks for
a certain number of chairs for Copts in the Parliament. The statement, however, can be
understood as to mean that he asks for an electoral system that can guarantee the success of
Salama believes: “It will be useful if the pope explains his stand in an unambiguous way. If he
does not mean the sense that the different media outlets have reported, which is “representation
through a fixed percentage”, he should explain that to disclose their intentions of setting fire in
Egypt. If he really means “representation through a fixed percentage”, he should declare that he
has changed his mind, especially because he rejected representation through a fixed percentage
many times before.”
Salama points out that Copts themselves rejected a representation through a fixed percentage in
1923. They believed that it is in its nature to divide the nation and make of Copts a minority
which is refused by both Muslims and Copts.”
86. Jamal As‘ad ‘Abd al-Malik, “Using Copts to divide the national unity,” Al-Akhbār in
Arab West Report, Week 46, Art 4, November 11, 2002. URL:
“As usual, the report of the US Secretary of States for religious freedom in Egypt this year
accuses Egypt of exercising religious persecution against the Christian minority. The US
Secretary of State depends on emigrant Copts in writing its reports.
The suggestions also call for the urgent intervention of the United States to force the Egyptian
government to respond to the Coptic demands. The cornerstone of these demands is dedicating
part of Egypt’s land for the Copts to establish an independent entity. Such an entity would
operate under the leadership of the church and have its own parliament and government.
Does that mean that Egypt should allocate shares or portions of Egyptian land to the Copts?
If we speak about shares or portions, presuming that the Copts count for 6% or 10% of the
Egyptian population, we find that the portions or shares of the Copts in different fields of life are
more than the aforementioned percentage.
The Copts account for 60% of all pharmacists, 65% of all jewelers and 70% of the tradesmen in
Wakalet Al-Balah (a famous textile market in Egypt). So, is allocating shares or portions to the
Copts going to solve all their problems?”
87. Cornelis Hulsman, “Interview with Metropolitan Bishoi, Secretary of the Holy Synod of
the Coptic Orthodox Church,” Arab-West Report, November 14, 2002. URL:
Metropolitan Bishoi said that Bishops had been asked to keep records. Some did but others
didn’t. President Mubarak spoke some time ago about 10 percent of the population so let’s keep
that number as a guideline. Episcopal Bishop Munir Hanna Anis Armanius, however, accepts the
figures the CAPMAS provided.
88. Paul Schemm, “The hero and the mystic…The Coptic Church´s two towering figures do
not get along and the flock is torn,” Cairo Times in Arab West Report, Week 50, Art 26,
December 12-18, 2002. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2002/week-50/26-hero-
“An article published in the Sunday School Magazine and written by Father Basilios of the
Monastery of Makarios was said not to be in accordance with the Orthodox belief. Father
Basilios will be investigated by the pope himself. The problem, according to churchleaders, is
not Basilios or other monks in Makarios Monastery. It is in their mentor, Father Matta Al
It is hard to argue with the renaissance experienced by the church in the last four decades. The
number of seminaries has jumped from one to 10 since the pope’s accession. Around 500
students went through the seminaries between 1900 and 1961, there were five times that number
between 1961 and 1994-and the number of students is still increasing. Monasteries have jumped
from nine to 16 with a five-fold increase of monks to 1,500.
The pope has also dramatically increased the centralization of the church by breaking up the
large dioceses into smaller units and appointing new bishops. The number of bishops under Pope
Shenouda’s reign has increased from 25 to 85, bolstered by numerous "general" bishops without
89. Cornelis Hulsman, “Persecuted Christians? Case Study of Egypt,” in “Persecuted
Christians? Documentation of an International Conference,” Missio, Autumn 2002 in Arab-
West Report, Week 50, Art 30, 2002. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2002/week-
It is estimated that 70% of the Egyptians who emigrated to the West are Christians. But it
became harder to enter the West. Push factors such as poor living conditions and pull factors
such as prospects for better living conditions and family and friends in the West made them still
eager to go. A number of them have faked asylum stories in order to get to the West. Some
Christian groups in the West started campaigning for their fellow brothers and sisters in faith in
Egypt and other countries. In the US they lobbied for an act that would make it possible for the
US to interfere in other countries on the basis of a perceived lack of religious freedom. Their
lobbying resulted in the Freedom from Religious Persecution Act in 1999 and the formation of
the US Commission on International Religious Freedom advising the US government and
Congress on possible punitive actions against countries for their way of dealing with Christians
and other minorities. This was perceived as American bullying. The Egyptian press strongly
criticized the law and the commission, which were both perceived as an unjust interference in
Muslim-Christian relations in Egypt.
90. Cornelis Hulsman, “Religious Freedom and Civil Society in Egypt,” Religious News
Service from the Arab World (Arab West Report), Week 50, Art 31, December 23, 2002.
“The text of a lecture on human rights and civil society in Egypt, including a discussion on
numbers of exaggerated stories in the West, rumors and civil society.
[…] numbers are a problem. Some Coptic activists, but also some clergy, claim with the greatest
of ease that 20% of the Egyptian population is Christian. The most recent US Freedom of
Religion report puts the number at 8-10% (that’s a change from last year when they wrote 10%).
A Jesuit priest in Minia has been systematically asking young Christian army conscripts how
many Christians there were in their unit. On the basis of this he calculated that the number of
Christians is probably no more than 5% of the total population. That’s a shock isn’t it? Numbers,
unfortunately, are inflated for political reasons. Egyptian Christians are arguing for more church
permits, more Christians in higher positions, etc. And higher numbers help.
Dr. Abdel Monem Sa’id told me about research, carried out by the National Institute of Planning,
on the quality of life in each governorate. Of the 26 governorates Minia ranks 26 [last], Assiut
ranks 25 and Beni Suef ranks 24. Minia alone has been good for 77% of all terrorist activities in
Egypt in past years. The three governorates are together good for 95% of all acts of terror. These
three governorates have also traditionally had a large percentage of Christians. It is not strange
that these Christians are also affected by the tremendous social pressures in these governorates.”
91. Cornelis Hulsman, “An article in Christianity Today criticized,” Arab-West Report, Week
5, Art 34, 5 February 2003. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2003/week-5/34-
Hulsman comments on an article by Jeff M. Sellers published by the U.S. newpaper Christianity
“The article in question was posted by Jeff M. Sellers on December 31, 2002 on the website of
Christianity Today, a major Christian publication in the US. The article was entitled "Heightened
Hostilities; What you can do to help persecuted Christians in Egypt."
Seller writes: "Since the late 1990s, Islamists in Egypt have killed more than 1,300 Christians,
according to Operation World." This is simply not true. Since the late 1990s no one has been
killed! This sentence should say "since the early 1990s" but even then the information is not
correct. No 1,300 Christians have been killed since the early 1990’s. That is in fact the figure
Egyptian human rights organizations cite for the total number of people killed in the violent
struggle between militant Islamists and the government during which tens of Christians lost their
lives. Most of the 1,300 victims are either extremists or policemen. I have not seen a breakdown
of the victims according to religion.
Sellers continued stating state that "Christians make up almost 13 percent of the population, or
nearly 9 million believers. About half of those belong to Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church."
That is utter nonsense. Metropolitan Bishoi, secretary of the Holy Synod, estimated the number
of Christians in Egypt at 10% of the Egyptian population and was even then very careful in
formulating this (RNSAW, 2002, week 47A, art. 16). A US government report released by the
US Embassy in Cairo gives an estimate of 8% to 10%. But these figures are all too high. A
French report argues persuasively for a percentage of only 5.7% (Eric Denis, "CENT ANS DE
LOCALISATION DE LA POPULATION CHRETIENNE EGYPTIENNE, Les élements d’une
distanciation entre citadins et villageois," CNRS-CEDEJ, Cairo, 1997.) Other work based on
research independent of Egyptian government information or sources resulted in estimates
between 6% and 8%. Higher percentages are politically motivated and aimed at trying to obtain
more permits for church buildings or higher government positions for Christians. But the
proponents for higher figures have never been able to produce detailed research and arguments
comparable to those of Eric Denis.
Bishop Marcos informed us that the number of church buildings has doubled between 1971 and
today to approximately 1500. In Cairo alone 100 church buildings were added, a further 20 in
Alexandria. This does not mean there have been no problems, but the background for problems
with individual churches is not mentioned (probably because articles such as this one are based
on the press releases and newspaper clippings of activists and are subsequently published
without the benefit of checking the information with local sources), nor are the large numbers of
new churches that have been built mentioned.”
92. Johanna Pink, “Nationalism, Religion and the Muslim-Christian Relationship: Teaching
Ethics and Values in Egyptian Schools,” Arab-West Report, Week 15, Art 21, April 16, 2003.
Like in most Muslim countries, in Egypt, religious education is mandatory. Religious
education is provided for Muslims and Christians separately. Christians account for
probably around 10% of the population; the majority of them are Orthodox Copts, but
there are twelve other officially recognized denominations. Following Islamic law,
Egyptian law recognizes Islam, Christianity and Judaism as revealed religions whose
religious laws are applied in matters of personal status and who enjoy the protection of
the state. As there are only a few hundred Jews left, most of them old, the question of
Jewish religious education is obsolete. Other religious minorities, like Baha’is or
Jehovah’s Witnesses, enjoy no protection and have no legal status. According to
government statistics, there simply are no adherents of these faiths in Egypt, so the
question of religious education is naturally not discussed with regard to them - in spite of
the fact that there are probably several thousand Baha’is and at least as many Jehovah’s
Witnesses in the country, which are not small numbers for a country like Egypt where
new religious communities enjoy no protection and are supposedly non-existent.
CH (May 2012): It has to be realized - as underlined in the introduction - that many authors in
Arab media make claims that they cannot substantiate. Johanna Pink, however, did her PhD
research on this subject in Egypt and her information is the most accurate. If other media articles
contradict information provided by her they are most likely incorrect. The twelve denominations
mentioned here are probably in reference to the protestant denominations that are member of the
Evangelical Community Council. Any church that is a member of one of the regonized
community councils (Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant) is regonized by the government.
93. Shaqiq al-Tahir, “Emigrant Copts ask for putting Christians under protection,” a t a -
Ummah in Arab West Report, Week 20, Art 28, May 12, 2003. URL:
“Every now and then some extremist emigrant Copts show up and repeat recurrent claims about
the persecution of Copts in Egypt and the discrimination practiced against them by the
government and Islamists. They aim at inciting the US against Egypt through promoting such
disclosed lies about the conditions Egyptian Copts.
Meunier claimed that the Christian minority in Egypt has been marginalized since the Arab
conquest of Egypt in the seventh century A.D. At that time, Copts were to choose between
converting to Islam, death or jizya (tax on Non-Muslims under Muslim government). He
attacked the Egyptian government and accused it of pressuring Copts, who account for about 11
to 13 million of the total population. He said that Copts are an active minority despite the many
pressures they are exposed to. These pressures are the result of the flagrant discrimination
practiced by the Egyptian government through irresponsible legislation.”
94. Cornelis Hulsman, “US Copts attacking Egyptian Coptic clergy,” Arab-West Report,
Week 20, Art 30, June 2, 2003. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2003/week-
“Michael Meunier and Sabri F. Gohara of the US Copts Association attack Father Marcos who
had asked the Egyptian public to understand their position.
Father Marcos writes about Meunier and his group as a few misinformed individuals. Of course
that stings. The US Copts Association itself claims it "represents over 700,000 Egyptian
Christians in the United States." These are bold claims without any basis. Who are these 700,000
people? Members? People who signed a certain form stating they subscribe to the ideals of the
association? Of course not. The Association is claiming to represent Coptic migrants who have
never asked for it. How many people does the Association really represent? That number is not
revealed. Meunier preferred not to respond.”
95. Cornelis Hulsman, “Sawt al-Umma accuses the US Embassy of interfering in Assiut but
many allegations cannot be backed up,” Arab-West Report, Week 23, Art 8, June 5, 2003.
“Assiut had traditionally a strong Coptic presence but this is rapidly decreasing. In 1925
approximately 80% of all Copts in Egypt lived in Upper Egypt. Today this is less than 50%.
Nicolas Hopkins estimates the number of Copts in Upper Egypt to be around 11% of the
population in Upper Egypt [Hopkins, Upper Egypt; life along the Nile, Moesgard Museum,
Arhus, 2003, page 12]. This may be higher in Assiut but the figure of 25% is probably too high.”
96. Cornelis Hulsman, “Methods US Coptic activist leader Michael Meunier uses to pressure
people,” Arab-West Report, Week 25, Art 27, June 24, 2003. URL:
“Michael Meunier’s response to criticism is accusing that person of ‘slander,’ of being a
government spokesman and other comments that are intended to discredit the other but show no
intention for a serious discussion.
Christians who make up about 18-23% of Egypt population (Hulsman: we have to believe that
figure because they say so? The US Copts Association has never been able to point to any
research. Independent Western researchers found Christians probably make no more than 5% of
the population) get only 1% appointments of the prosecutors jobs, judges jobs and foreign
ministry jobs. Also only 1% of Christian students applying to the Police Academy, Military
Academy or Naval Academy are accepted (Hulsman: what research forms the basis of these
percentages? None!). Christians are not allowed to be ministers of interior, justice, or foreign
affairs (Hulsman: not allowed meaning there is a law? That does not exist but it is certainly
practice). In Egypt, President Mubarak must approve every new church construction and local
governors must approve every old church renovation. This process requires the approval of 11-
15 different agencies prior to being granted the president or governors’ approval. As you can
detect, these are government practices, laws and regulations that hold Christians back.”
97. Cornelis Hulsman, “Egyptologist Lutfi Sherif comments on the Exodus,” Arab West
Report, Week 33, Art 27, August 20, 2003. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“For many conservative or orthodox Christians and Jews the information from Egyptian history
and archeology that seems to be in conflict with the information in Genesis and Exodus, is hard
to accept. They believe the text in the Bible, including Genesis and Exodus is the literal word of
God, written by people inspired through the Holy Spirit and thus that account is right and the
information found by archeologists must be wrong or incomplete or must be interpreted in a
different way. That creates a tension between this belief and archeologists. Several Egyptian
Christians, for example, stated that the calculation of 2 to 2,5 million Egyptians in the time of the
New Kingdom must be wrong because the 600,000 men mentioned in Exodus must be right.
That point of view is not much different from the Muslim belief that the Qur’an is the literal
word of God. Anything in violation with that text thus must be wrong.”
98. Cornelis Hulsman, “Freedom of religion in Egypt,” Arab-West Report, Week 34, Art 3,
September 3, 2003. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2003/week-34/3-freedom-
Numbers are a generally a problem. Some Coptic activists, but also some clergy, claim with the
greatest of ease that 20% of the Egyptian population is Christian. The US Country Report on
Human Rights Practices for 2002 puts the number at 8-10% but Western research shows that the
number of Christians is probably no more than 5% of the total population. 95% of those belong
to the Coptic (Egyptian) Orthodox Church. Numbers, unfortunately, are inflated for political
reasons. Egyptian Christians argue for more church permits, more Christians in higher positions,
etc. And higher numbers help.
It is certain that the percentage of Christians is rapidly decreasing. Around 1925 80% of the
Copts lived in Upper Egypt as opposed to perhaps 50% today. Many migrated to Cairo,
Alexandria, and countries abroad. It is estimated that 70% of all Egyptian emigrants to the West
are Christian. Many thousands of Christians convert yearly to Islam and Christian families tend
to be smaller than Muslim families. These factors explain the steady decrease in the percentage
of Christians in Egypt.
Despite the declining numbers Christians have experienced an unprecedented renaissance in the
past 50 years. They have been able to build more churches and monasteries than ever before in
any other half century since the Arab conquest of Egypt. Monasticism flourishes. The number of
priests strongly increased and church activities strongly expanded.
99. Jamal As‘ad ‘Abd al-Malik, “Towards the restoration of full citizenship rights to Copts in
Egypt,” Watani International in Arab-West Report, Week 40, Art 21, October 3, 2003. URL:
(Editor: This author makes claims that cannot be backed up. Claims on under representation of
Copts are based on a way too high estimate of the percentage of Coptic Christians in Egypt.)
The author admits that Copts are living in difficult circumstances in Egypt. “Even if Copts paid a
heavy price and had a disproportionate share of victims, they were not the only ones to face the
acts of extremist groups. Besides, and this is more important, some of the atrocities that befell
them were actually perpetrated by normal people, sometimes neighbors, who had acted
despicably because of incitement an other reasons linked to a prevailing culture of hate.”
The problem should not be seen as Copts “seeking the right of self-determination. The Copts
have always maintained that they stand for a united Egypt where all citizens live side by side in
peace-harmony and equality. They are, as I often said, part of Egypt’s ’national fabric’, but they
do expect to be treated on an equal par with their fellow-citizens.”
CH: speaking about statistics is often perceived in Egypt as risking dividing a united population.
Theirs is a case of a religious minority looking for full recognition and integration, enjoying all
rights and duties, in their country, while preserving their cultural heritage.
The prognosis of the Copts’ situation should be summed-up under one heading: being deprived
of full citizenship rights in their homeland.
The author pays attention to the fact that Copts are underrepresented in the Egyptian society, this
when 1) it comes to the general number of Copts in the Country as well as 2) being represented
in parliaments and other governmental institutions. He argues that the number is outdated: “It is
essential that the government of Egypt issue an accurate census reflecting the true number of
Copts. The latest official census (in 1996) puts the number of Copts at 3.6 million (which is
about the same level as reported in the 1950s, whereas the general population almost tripled
during the same period!) Such figures grossly underestimate all independent and most reliable
estimates (Editor: see previous remarks about the census in AWR).” Furthermore he claims that
Copts are hardly represented in legislative and administrative institutions. He belives that a
system based on proportionality is currently needed in Egypt to make sure that the Coptic
population face justice and influence: “[…] in the running of affairs of their country alongside
their Muslim compatriots. Allocating about 15% of all Assembly and Council seats to Copts is
considered –a necessity to re-establish needed political and psychological equilibrium”
MN (May 2012): It is not really clear to WHOM this is considered a necessity.
The author states that Egypt is the ONLY country in the world, “which imposes the religious
code of the majority on its considerable religious minority.
The author highlights the importance of Universal Human Rights Declarations to ensure
democracy and the participation of all social groups (especially those marginalized), where
Egyptian national identity should be based on Egyptian traits, not on the religious affiliation of
the individual. He states that imposing Shari’a- inspired laws is discriminatory and counter to
establish universal human rights values.
Further he points out that the state should secure the respect of the country’s secular nature and
not intervene in promoting one particular religion or support activities that do so.
MN (May 2012): It has to be stressed that this reflects the opinion of the author, hence it cannot
be documented that what is referred to actually reflects the current situation.
The author believes that the Copts are currently excluded from job positions like ”senior Cabinet
positions, governors, city executives, university and faculty deans, and high-ranking positions in
the media, military and police (including State Security).” He also claims that this is happening
when it comes “to enrollment into military academies, or to teaching positions appointments at
universities, or for judiciary and diplomatic corps, where upper ceilings on Copts (typically I
2%) are currently imposed.”
Additionally the author argues that there exists a religion-based duality in the educational system
with a ‘Muslims only’ parallel educational system, which has grown 300 times in the past three
decades, with 1.5 million students today, according to the author.
According to the author the objectives above relate to basic human and citizenship rights and are
believed to be quite actionable. Yet the higher authorities in Egypt still have not admitted that
Copts are facing problems, but rather that they are treated equally: ”In fact, it has been reported
that the president personally holds such views and sees no need for any broad-based actions or
The author points out the Copts “tend to be ignored as a negligible minority, of little weight”, but
meanwhile he argues that the Copts must assume their responsibility in “effecting the needed
change through full participation in building a better Egypt and rid themselves of their (true or
At last the author calls for creating a ‘Citizenship Commission’, which should be a direct link to
the president and compose an equal number of reputed Muslims and non-Muslims: “Its mandate
shall be to examine all laws, regulations, policies and practices currently in place with a view to
recommend and oversee changes needed to establish complete and equal rights to all citizens.”
100. Makram Muhammad Ahmed, Muná al-Mallakh, and Najwan ‘Abd al-Latif, et. al. “The
interview of the week in the Anba Bishoy Monastery,” A - u a ar in Arab-West Report,
Week 41, Art 21, October 10, 2003. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2003/week-
Interview with Pope Shenouda who complains about the small proportion of Copts in top
government positions and in parliament and then claims that “The majority of the [2 million]
residents of Shubra are Copts (more than half).” Yet Coptic candidates for parliamentary
elections have had no success here. Copts are well represented among physicians and
pharmacists but are not successful in the elections of physicians’ and pharmacists’ syndicates.
Pope Shenouda says he doesn’t count the number of churches but he mentions the number of
priests abroad: “There are 170 priests abroad: 90 in the US, 22 in Canada, as well as 50 priests
and two bishops in Australia. These are in addition to four bishops in Greece, two in Italy, one in
Germany and one in Austria. He comments on how the Coptic Church protects its children
against Western values.”
101. ‘Abd Allah Kamal, “The homeland is not for shares”, Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West
Report, Week 41, Art 22, October 11-17, 2003. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“The author praised Al-Musawwar magazine for the important interview it had with His
Holiness Pope Shenouda III. Still, he expressed objections to the opinions the pope concerning
the participation of Copts in elections and their representation in the People´s Assembly.
Two years ago, the pope asked for partial representation of Copts in Parliament. In the Al-
Musawwar interview, he raised the issue again. He said that the state should find a certain
electoral system that guarantees Copts a suitable representation. He was asked: "Do you mean
specifying a certain quota for Copts?" His answer was: "I do not speak about this neither do I
suggest a certain solution. I am just saying that the state should find a solution. When a foreigner
comes to us asking about the percentage of Copts in the People’s Assembly, is it acceptable to
answer him that they are less than 0.5%? How can he understand such fact in a democratic age?"
“Literally, the pope did not ask for a ‘quota’. However, his words indicated what he did not want
to state explicitly.
The author argued that accepting what Sadat did means turning society into a number of
constituencies with quotas, each of which asks for what it believes are its rights. This is against
the simplest rules of election and free choice. The author disagreed with the pope concerning the
concept of the "will." He argued that that the "will" [of the state] is certainly not against the
representation of Copts or of all of society. The arbitrary bureaucratic procedures and political
complications are not based on religion. He added that economic problems do not differentiate
between Muslims and Copts. The author believes that law loses its respect if it is racist.
He argued that the most important characteristic of Egypt is that it is geographically and
ethnically united. ‘No doubt, no one wants to divide the country constitutionally or legally by a
quota system,’ he observed.
He called upon the pope to use his religious status and prominent position to create a climate that
consolidates equality. He asked the church to consolidate its position as a religious, spiritual and
102. ‘Abd al-Dayim, “The Shock of Pope Shenouda,” Al-‘Arab in Arab West Report, Week
42, Art 15, October 19, 2003. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2003/week-42/15-
“The statements made by Pope Shenouda in his interview with Al-Musawwar magazine have
met with mixed reactions, especially what he said about reserving a certain number of
parliamentary seats for Copts. Some people expressed doubts that the pope made such a
statement. Others condemned it, and a third group blamed the ruling party for it.
Assad pointed out a previous statement made by the pope during the 1995 election. The pope
asked that a quota be set for Copts in parliament, following the example of the 50 percent quota
for farmers and craftsmen. Assad added that Egyptian society should not be established on a
Wagih Ekladios, former member of the supreme council of the Wafd Party, believes that asking
for a quota for Copts is a natural consequence of the deteriorating economic, social and political
conditions the country is going through. Ekladios blamed the ruling party for not nominating any
Copts and criticized the pope for expressing such a request too late.
Kamal Zakher Mussa, researcher in Coptic affairs, […] stressed that the pope did not name a
specific Coptic quota in the Al-Musawwar interview. Still, the pope pointed out that there is a
problem that cannot be solved through denial. Mussa said he believes a quota system would not
solve the problem of Copts.
Researcher Amin Iskander is also against the quota system, despite his belief that there is
discrimination against Copts. He believes that ‘full citizenship’ is the solution.
Dr. Munier Ayaad rejects the quota system as well, believing that it will bring to the surface the
issue of minorities. He is of the opinion that the heart of the matter is a comprehensive political
and social reform.”
103. Cornelis Hulsman, “New books about Egyptian Christianity,” Arab-West Report, Week
52, Art 46, December 31, 2003. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2003/week-
"Upper Egypt, Life along the Nile," Moesgard Museum, Denmark, 173 pp with photos, ISBN
87-87334-52-6. Edited by Dr. Nicolas Hopkins, professor of Anthropology at the American
University in Cairo, Egypt. Dr. Hopkins asked me to write the chapter on Christian life, pp. 121-
The statistics Dr. Hopkins and Dr. Reem Saad presented in the introduction of the book are
interesting. Over one third of the population lives below the poverty line, based on consumption
needs, as calculated officially in Egypt. That is a huge number and could cause social unrest if it
doesn’t improve. It is also not for nothing that most problems that have been reported in Muslim-
Christian relations take place in the lowest income category.
Upper Egypt has nearly one-third of Egypt’s population. The urban population is between 20%
and 25% of the population. Upper Egypt is the historic center of Egypt’s Christian population. In
1925 some 80% of Copts lived in Upper Egypt (p.121). Currently at least half of Egypt’s
Christians live in Upper Egypt. In the 1986 census, Christians were 16.5% of the urban
population of Upper Egypt, and 9.2% of the rural population. Overall this produces a proportion
of about 11% Christians in Upper Egypt, compared to about 6-10% in Egypt as a whole. The
greatest concentration of Christians in Upper Egypt is found in the Assiut governorate (about 20-
25% of the total), followed by the Minia and Sohag governorates (each about 15-20%) (Hopkins
and Saad, p.12).
Prof. Hopkins edited this text. I wrote him after the book came out that I was not happy with the
estimate of 6-10% Christians in Upper Egypt. We both believe the 11% Christians in Egypt
seems to be fairly accurate but if we take that figure and accept that many Christians have
migrated to Cairo and Alexandria and we know that the percentage of Christians in the Delta is
very, very small, probably less than 1%, the conclusion cannot be but that the percentage of
Christians cannot possibly reach 10%. If we furthermore take the statistical work of a Jesuit
priest in Minia and the research of the French scholar Philippe Farges into account, the most
likely figure is around 6% of the population [Supplement to the RNSAW, 2001, week 08A].
104. Cornelis Hulsman, “Critique on AFP reporting about the accident in Taha al-‘Ameda,”
Arab-West Report, Week 19, Art 17, May 5, 2004. URL:
Hulsman comments on a text from Agence France –Presse:
The AFP text is questionable with the two last paragraphs. They write that “Copts
account for at least 5.8 million of Egypt’s 70 million population, according to official
figures. However, the Coptic Church says its flock numbers as many as 10 million.”
What official figures are they referring to? We earlier wrote in AWR about the
difficulties surrounding statistics. There is no official statement of the Coptic Orthodox
church saying their flock numbers 10 million. There is a wide variety of estimates in the
Coptic Orthodox Church varying roughly between four and 14 million members. Any
number over 5 million inhabitants is highly unlikely. I have not seen any statistical
studies showing convincingly that the number of Christians should be higher.
105. Yusuf Sidhum, “What did le Point print?” Watani International in Arab-West Report,
Week 19, Art 22, May 9, 2004. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2004/week-
The author disagrees with the article of Le Point, which claims that ‘the Copts enjoy full-scale
rights.’ He writes: “So far however, it is a firmly established fact of life in Egypt that Copts
encounter injustices in several areas, resulting in the notorious ‘Coptic grievances’, the resolution
of which requires joining forces with our Muslim partners in the homeland. We are still raising
our voices high for the Coptic grievances to be tackled within the context of Egyptian societal
grievances so that Copts may finally attain the same rights as Muslims in Egypt.”
Below is a translation of the article, which among others is paid attention to by the author:
The number of Copts in Egypt is one of the secrets of the state. The census of 1996
reports them as three millions, while Pope Shenouda Ill of the Orthodox Copts says that
they are eight million. The truth probably lies somewhere in-between. (…) Numbers of
Copts converted to Islam either because of conviction or submission. But those who
adhered to their Christian faith had to pay heavy taxes and were subject to many forms of
humiliation. The 19th century and the first half of the 20th were a golden age for Copts:
Mohammed Ali gave them a share in building modern Egypt. In the 20th century, they
occupied high posts by virtue of the liberal Wafd Party, and one of them became Prime
106. Sa‘id ‘Abd al-Khaliq, “The National Coptic Organization announces its guardianship
over the Copts and holds negotiations with foreigners aimed at gaining autonomy for Copts
in Egypt!” Al- aydā in Arab-West Report, Week 20, Art 28, May 13, 2004. URL:
(Editor: This article is not very different of that of al-Usbua, AWR 2004, week 19, art. 26. No
doubt a few radical expatriate Copts have sent out a radical statement but they have no following
and thus presenting their ridiculous claims creates unnecessary sentiments, see the comment in
art. 30 in last week’s issue.)
Every now and then, we hear of crazy attempts to spoil the relationship between Muslims and
Christians in Egypt and try to hit at the national unity. The National Coptic Organization
submitted a leaflet to the Pope Shenouda with the title "Autonomy for the Copts of Egypt." The
organization’s spokesperson in Washington said in a communiqué, "Since January 2003 and in
total secrecy, precise and sensitive negotiations have been taking place between active parties in
the new global order on the one side and a delegation of Egyptian and American Copts on the
other side." The Coptic delegation included Maurice Sadeq, the head of the negotiation
delegation and representative of the Copts of the inside "Egyptian Copts," and the chemist
Nasha’at Marcus, who is the delegation’s consultant for the affairs of the Coptic Church.
Throughout the negotiations, the delegation’s demands focused on several points including the
*Carrying out a demographic census to count Copts, which would be under international
supervision and ignoring the current civil records because the Arab government of Egypt forges
the records of the Copts.
*Achieving autonomous rule for Copts under the supervision of the international community
represented by the NATO, the U.S.A. and the European Commission.
107. Yusuf Sidhum, “Excluding Copts from leading posts,” Watani International in Arab West
Report, Week 32, Art 14, August 8, 2004. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“There are many examples to prove that Copts have minimal or absent share in the posts of
governors, ministers, heads of state banks, state university presidents, as well as leading posts in
the military and the police. All in all, it can be said that Copts occupy no more than zero to one
per cent of the leading posts in these sectors. It is one of the serious problems shelved, or placed
on ho1d by the government and is primarily a problem of deficient citizenship rights.
(Editor: the given figures are interesting but it is misleading to only look at the promotion of
Copts to leading positions without looking at the number of Copts working in fields that would
make them suitable candidates for such positions. Could it be that fewer Copts work in certain
sectors? Could it be that there are other sectors where Copts make a much larger percentage? Do
Copts actually make up 10% of the population? That percentage is often heard. Sidhom does not
belong to the category of people who highly inflate figures, unlike those who claim Copts make
up 20% of the population, but we have argued in earlier texts for AWR that a percentage of 6-8%
is more likely.)”
The article provides a list with different fields in which the Coptic representation is low.
108. Cornelis Hulsman, “Muslim-Christian relations in Egypt; opinions from Egyptians in
various positions,” Arab-West Report, Week 36, Art 28, September 1, 2004. URL:
“This report presents the interviews with nineteen people, 18 Egyptians and one American
researcher about the importance of the work of Arab-West Report […] Ramadan Abdel Mawla--
In [the village of] Ishneen.
Q: Many people emigrate from Ishneen to the city, what is the reason for that?
Father Yo’annis: The village is limited in space, but the capital is wider and has more projects.
Those who live here are farmers. A person who wants to starts a business emigrates to Cairo or
Alexandria where he can start his business and later return to help here. There are 420 families
from Isheen living in Cairo and God kept them in Cairo because they offer help to the village’s
inhabitants, Muslims and Christians. They built the guesthouse [in our village]. People who live
here are poor and we take care of them and also those who live in Cairo.
Father Yo’annis: the living conditions here are difficult. We have in the church 120 families of
Ihwat al-Rab; we support them
Q: How many Christian and Muslim families are there in the village?
Father Yo’annis: There are about 600 Christian families and another 600 Muslim families [Mr.
Ramadan confirms this]. We live in real love and there is no difference between Muslims and
By the way, most Muslim families have a picture of Virgin Mary in their houses. We use a
loudspeaker to pray in the church so Muslims and Christians hear [the prayer] the same thing
happens when our Muslim brothers perform their prayers.
Q: But what was the percentage fifty years ago?
Father Yo’annis: The percentage [of Christians] was more than that but many Christians
emigrated to Maghagha, Beni Mazar or to Cairo. That is why their number decreases. Now the
number of Muslims and Christians is equal.
CH (May 2012): Also Muslims have migrated from this village but the proportion of Christian
migrants appears to be higher than that of Muslim migrants. Since this is not a village that is
noted for tensions between Muslims and Christians the reasons could be in the difference in
education between Christians and Muslims. Since villages offer little to no work opportunities
for educated people they tend to emigrate. The growing proportion of Muslims is probably also
because Muslims tend to have larger families. Please note that from what I have observed since
1976 Christians in lower and middle social classes tend to stress the need for good education for
their children more then Muslim families in similar social classes. I do not think that Muslims
and Christians in higher social classes have different views about the importance of education for
Bishop Marcos: (…) Al-Kosheh is not the example in our area but a bad example because if you
hat compare al-Kosheh with 100.000 villages, you can see big differences. All villages, all the
people in the villages, country and cities, like each other very good.
We are about 70 millions, the Christians about 12 million [Editor: I disagree with the Bishop’s
estimate, see for arguments earlier issues of AWR]. The relations between all these people are
very good. If a problem happens between some people, a number we can count on one hand, it
does not mean that Egypt is very bad. No. Egypt is very good.
Bishop Yohanna Qulta: We have 170 Catholic schools; the majority of their students are
109. Majdi Khalil, “The Ordeal of Arab Christians,” Watani International in Arab-West
Report, Week 40, Art 23, October 3, 2004. http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2004/week-
Muhammad Hasanain Haykal wrote in Perspectives:
I personally feel, as others certainly do, that if we do not address the issue of Christian
emigration, if we continue to overlook it or neglect it on purpose, then we will face an
Arab scene that will not just be different from the current one, but one that would have
definitely lost part of its assets on a human and cultural level. It would be such a loss if
the Eastern Christians leave believing that there is no future for them or their children
here, Islam would then be left alone in the East with only the company of Zionist Judaism
and most specifically that of Israel.
110. Yusuf Sidhum, “The first Coptic symposium in Zurich: Today and tomorrow,” Watani
International in Arab-West Report, Week 40, Art 34, October 3, 2004. URL:
“The first international symposium of Egyptian Copts: A minority under siege,” included papers
on the migration of the Christians of the Middle East. “This last problem is viewed as a major
civilizational loss to the region and not a mere demographic problem.”
The symposium drew up resolutions including:
- Allocating a proportionate and just percentage (estimated between 10-15%) of
government appointed positions to Copts, to guarantee appropriate participation.
- Allocating a proportionate and just percentage (estimated between 10-15%) of
parliamentary seats for Copts, thereby encouraging political participation and
guaranteeing adequate representation in the electoral bodies.
CH: This means that attendants of the symposium must believe that the proportion of Copts in
Egyptian society is around 10 to 15 percent.
111. Nabil ‘Abd al-Fattah, “Coptic grievances…are they of a minority or views and policies
under siege?” Al-Ahrām al-‘Arab in Arab West Report, Week 41, Art 15, October 9, 2004.
“The Coptic issue is one of the most important in the Egyptian question’s political file. Copts’
political, religious and cultural demands have been a pressing issue of tension.
The Coptic demands are also supported by the Orthodox Coptic clergy who even added the
necessity to deal with the problem of political representation for the Copts based on the
proportion of Coptic population in Egypt. This is also the position of Pope Shenouda III, who
considers this option as a solution to the problem of Coptic representation in the parliament.”
112. Islam Kamal, Ibrahim Jab Allah, “Copts between secular state slogan and denominational
representation plea,” Al-Qāhirah in Arab West Report, Week 46, Art 17, November 9, 2004.
“The fatal point of weakness in the 1st Coptic symposium in the Swiss city of Zurich was that it
tried to be secular but could not remain so until the end of this noble call that enhances
Egyptians’ unity and consequently functions as a life buoy from a merciful fate at the end of a
The first recommendation in that event urges total separation between religion and the state, but
the third one calls for devoting a fair proportion of 10-15% of parliamentary seats for the Copts
in a way to encourage political participation.
The fourth goes on to ask for the same percentages in government posts that are occupied by
means of appointment.
In a nutshell, the symposium appealed for proportional representation, a call categorically
rejected by the committee that drew up the best constitution ever known by our country
throughout history: the 1923 constitution.”
113. Cornelis Hulsman, “Do not claim something that cannot be proven; the origin of some
Christian persecution stories,” Arab-West Report, Week 47, Art 8, November 23, 2004. URL:
“The purpose of this article is to show Western readers to be careful with Christian persecution
stories from Egypt, they may be true but also may not be true. The great difficulty is that there
are many rumors flying around that are mostly not investigated. Most examples of rumors for
this article came from Christian circles but some examples are given from Muslims showing that
the belief in rumors is certainly not limited to Egyptian Christians only.”
MN (May 2012): This article stresses the need for double-checking information, especially when
it comes to statistical information. The reason for this is because different sources have different
interests to take into account, which (it might be unintended) influence their statements/utterings.
114. Cornelis Hulsman, “Feelings of discrimination and persecution among Coptic migrants,”
Arab-West Report, Week 50, Art 24, December 14, 2004. URL:
“A report following discussions with young Copts in Germany claiming they had been
discriminated and persecuted in Egypt.
Christians are persecuted in Egypt. That is why they leave the country. Of course there are good
Muslims but the problem is that in Islam as a religion, we are not considered equal. We are free
in Germany to speak out. Of course there are girls who are kidnapped (this statement resulted in
a discussion in the group of young Copts, some insisted Christian girls are kidnapped and others
disagreed but the speaker continued). It happens. A Muslim family will invite a Christian girl to
their home and put drugs in her drink. After that, she discovers that she has been raped and
cannot go back to her family because she is no longer a virgin.
CH: I have investigated 120 cases of conversions to Islam. One finds social problems, but never
physical force. I do not believe the drugs story.”
115. Cornelis Hulsman, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” Arab-West Report, Week 50, Art
25, December 14, 2004. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2004/week-50/25-love-
The article mentions the struggles with working with Coptic statistics:
“Today, the population in Egypt is approximately 6-8% Christian and over 90% Muslim. Most
Christians in Egypt are Orthodox. With 4 to 5 million believers, the Orthodox Church is the
largest church in the Middle East.
There are, of course, many problems but they are misrepresented and many claims are either
exaggerated or untrue.”
116. Khalid Salah, “‘We demand a church in every street” says Bishop Bissenti,” Al-Ahrām
al-‘Arab in Arab West Report, Week 2, Art 23, January 8, 2005. URL:
“[…] there is a problem with the state regarding the issue of census. (…). In 1977, former US
President Jimmy Carter told Pope Shenouda that he knew the prelate was the spiritual leader of
seven million Christians in Egypt. At the time, I met with the then-Speaker of the People’s
Assembly (parliament) Sayyid Mar‘’ī and he said the number of Copts was six million, out of a
total Egyptian population of less than 35 million, back in 1977. Measuring on this, the number of
Copts could have grown to be up to between 10 and 12 million.”
Bishop Bisanti calls for the exact number of Christians in Egypt today. He raises the following
“Protestants and Catholics in Egypt are able to do this and thus why not the Orthodox? Sure the
Orthodox Church is much larger but Pope Shenouda did ask all bishops to provide him with
figures of the number of Christians in their diocese. Why is that number not made public?”
For generations people have used 10% as […] a rough estimate. It is thus unlikely the
speaker of the Parliament would have given such a high number. […] Whatever the
reason it is highly unlikely that a speaker of Parliament would mention a figure that was
so in violation with that of the CAPMAS, Egypt’s statistical office, at the time. The
number debate is frequently coming back in plays a role in claiming Copts should have
more churches and more Copts in higher government positions.
Finally, Bishop Bisanti asks if it is reasonable that by its 10 or 12 million of the population only
to have 10 seats in the parliament, and mostly by appointment. He asks if that is a healthy
117. ‘Amr al-Misri, “The whole kit and caboodle about the Samallout incidents,” Arab West
Report, Week 3, Art 21, May 30, 2005. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“In the beginning, the church had obtained a permission to build a service facility over a plot of
500 square meters it owned and surrounded with a mud brick wall. Part of the wall had fallen
down due to several cracks and strong winds.
The wall was not re-built due to rejection by the security authorities that are pressuring the
church to turn the place into a public utility although the church’s ownership of that land was
validated by a Cassation Court ruling in 1981.
In an interview with al-Usbou‘, Mīnyā Governor Maj. General Hasan Himīda dismissed
accusations of discrimination against Copts and encumbering the construction of new churches.
He said the number of applications to build churches reached 839, of which 474 were approved,
79 refused and six delayed.”
118. Yusrā Zahrān and Fādī Habashī, “Copts own half of Egypt’s wealth...where is the
discrimination?” a t a -Ummah in Arab-West Report, Week 3, Art 22, January 17, 2005.
Prominent journalist Adel Hammouda claims that Copts are 10 percent of population while they,
according to him, own 50 percent of Egypt’s wealth. He says the two percentages need to be in
proportion (Editor: where does Hammouda get his percentages from? Both percentages are too
high. There are certainly very rich Copts but also hundreds of thousands extremely poor. How
did he calculate the 50%? This is very unlikely.) However, Hammouda refused such logic
claiming it was a proportion built on sectarian principles.
119. Majid ‘Atiyah, “Enemies of the state capitalize on sedition,” Al-Ahā in Arab West
Report, Week 4, Art 11, January 19, 2005. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“The persons, who help the enemies of the state, hide under the cloak of ‘human rights,’
‘minorities’ rights’ and ‘freedom of worship,’ cannot but be lacking in awareness.
[…] the Copts, before the July revolution (1952), used to own 17% of the national wealth and
they then made up more than 18% of the total population, in other words their share of the
wealth was less than that of the Egyptian Jews. (Editor: where does the figure of 17% of national
wealth come from? The 18% of population is too high.)
The Coptic share in agricultural wealth plummeted to 3% today. The Coptic share in real estate
does not exceed 5% and the national wealth as a whole is no more than 8% (Editor: what are the
sources for these figures?).”
120. Yusuf M. Ibrahim, “Are Arab Christians becoming extinct?” Watani International in
Arab West Report, Week 6, Art 23, February 6, 2005. URL:
“In a string of recently published essays, eminent Egyptian – American Muslim sociologist, Dr.
Saad Eldin Ibrahim, who was jailed for his political views, argued that in Egypt, which had the
largest Christian minority of 7 million, for the last half century Christians have been held back in
building or even repairing their churches.
Likewise, Dr. Ibrahim, a pro- democracy activist who is professor of political sociology at the
American University in Cairo and chairman of the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies
in Cairo, says school textbooks ignore 600 years of the history of Coptic Egypt, as well as
Christian contributions to its art, culture and architecture.”
121. Nabil ‘Umar, “Pardon me, Ms. Kariman...Copts are not a minority!” a t a -Ummah in
Arab West Report, Week 6, Art 21, February 7, 2005. URL:
The author states: “If we scrutinize the term ‘minority,’ we find it refers politically to a
community smaller than the majority it shares society with; it has its own traditions, norms,
values and heritage unlike that of the majority such as the Tamil in Sri Lanka, Kurds in Turkey,
Whites in South Africa and Palestinians living in Israel since 1948.
From this standpoint, it is impossible to consider the Copts a minority just for being fewer in
number than the Muslim majority. The texture of the Egyptian nation is not divided into two
parts, rather it is one fabric inside a single entity.”
122. Yusuf Sidhum, “President Mubarak, anew: Egypt of the Muslims and Copts,” Watani
International in Arab West Report, Week 7, Art 23, February 13, 2005. URL:
The author discusses the low representation (if any at all) of Copts in different positions:
Last August I tackled the issue of the dearth of Copts in leading official posts, pointing
out that their proportion in such posts was notoriously low, ranging between zero and
three per cent. I wrote then that these figures indicated a severe flaw: “ semi- official
figures- there are no official figures- place the Coptic population at some 10 per cent of
the Egyptian population. Since Copts go through the same educational system- on all
school and university levels – as Muslims do, and later enter the job market with almost
the same qualifications, the natural distribution of Copts in jobs would be around the
same percentage as their numbers. If advancement in jobs were subject to competence
alone, it would then stand to reason that Copts would occupy around 10 percent of
leading posts. That is, if no obstacles were placed in their path.
Sadly, this particular article dealt with the police officers’ promotions approved by the Interior
Minister last July, which included 151 names not one of whom was Copt. I considered this a
serious, inexplicable, unjust predicament, which occurred repeatedly every time official
promotions or honors lists were announced.
Whenever the question of the minimal nomination of Copts to leading posts surfaces, some
hasten to declare that the reason is their small numbers in the work force in the first place. This
in itself is the outcome of a decades – long flawed policy which never afforded Copts
opportunities equal to those of Muslims regarding access or appointment to jobs in certain
123. Mājdah Maurice, “The happy minority and the sectarian discourse,” a t a -Ummah in
Arab-West Report, Week 7, Art 34, February 14, 2005. URL:
The author, a Coptic Christian, is upset with the way some Muslim authors have used claims that
Copts would have a certain percentage of the national wealth. She makes the argument correctly
that poverty, corruption, and deterioration in living standards do not differentiate between
Muslims and Copts.
124. Tariq Hijji, “Reflections of the Coptic Question,” Watani International in Arab West
Report, Week 11, Art 21, March 13, 2005. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“The basic premise from which this article proceeds is that the Copts are (or should be) genuine
Egyptian citizens, that is, first – calls citizens.
The Coptic community has other more serious complaints that can be summed up as follows: the
existence of a general climate that allows for the resurgence at different times and in certain
areas of the county of a spirit of religious intolerance. Copts are finely attuned to this
phenomenon, as sometimes the mere mention of their name is enough to trigger a hostile
reaction. There is a widespread feeling among Copts that their participation in public life has
gradually dwindled over the last fifty years.
Their sense of marginalization is borne out by the facts: in 1995, not a single Copt was elected to
parliament. There is, moreover, the spectre of communal violence, which can flare up at any time
125. Majdi Khalil, “4. Ten reasons why a Copt should run for president,” a a in Arab West
Report, Week 14, Art 4, April 3, 2005. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
There is need to search for a suitable Coptic candidate to compete with the incumbent Egyptian
president, not because it was a right for the Copts guaranteed by the constitution, but because the
key objective of the competition is to expand the democratic practices to be genuine in the
According to the author there is at least ten reasons why a Copt should run for presidency:
“The eighth is the Copts’ expression of their voting power, considering that the Copts make 15-
20% of the total population in Egypt and their financial power enhance their votes (Editor: we
have earlier provided reasons in AWR why Copts cannot make up more then 6-8% of the
126. Munir Bishay, “A Coptic President of Egypt?” Watani International in Arab West
Report, Week 14, Art 5, April 3, 2005. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
Copts in Egypt must arise and shed the apathy that plagues so many of them and become
part of political reform process that will eventually improve their lives. Sadly, as the
result of certain developments in Egypt's modern history, Copts have become
marginalized. Many of them withdrew from political life. As an example, in the last
parliamentary election only two Copts were elected for the 444 available seats.
Approximately 10 million Copts, comprising roughly 13% of Egypt's population, are
represented by less than ½% of the Parliament. (Editor AWR: an exaggeration. Copts in
Egypt represent approximately 6-8% of the population.)
127. Dina Hasan, “The President of Egypt, a too heavy onus to take,” Arab West Report,
Week 17, Art 5, 2005. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2005/week-17/5-president-
“Pope Shenouda III said it is natural for a President to belong to the religion of the majority, and
it would be rather a “joke” should a Copt run for President. He added that expatriate Copts form
no political party and a few of them are extremists.
The Pope indicated that the Church will not partake in the elections since it is not a political
body. Meanwhile, Bibāwī (Nabīl Louqā Bibāwī, Deputy Head of the Culture and Information
Committee in the Shoura Council) asserted that he knows with the wisdom of hindsight that the
8,000,000 Copts will be voting for Mubārak. (Editor: this number is, as usual, much too high.
See earlier discussions in AWR about the estimated number of Coptic Christians in Egypt,
probably between 6 and 8% of the population).”
128. Majdi Khalil, “Let’s Think Out Loud…Ten Reasons Why We Should Nominate a Copt
As A Candidate In The Egyptian Presidential Election,” Watani International in Arab West
Report, Week 19, Art 3, May 8, 2005. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
The author provides ten reasons why the Copts in Egypt should find a candidate to compete for
the presidential election:
“Copts represent 15-20% of Egypt’s population (Editor: it is common for activist Copts to
overestimate the number of Copts in Egypt. The estimate is closer to 6-8% of population), but
their voting strength exceeds that percentage for several reasons and their financial abilities add
more weight to their voting strength and increase their political power that has been idle until
129. Hani Labīb, “Copts, citizenship and presidents of Egypt,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West
Report, Week 37, Art 19, September 7, 2005. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“The era of President Husnī Mubārak has witnessed some kind of balanced relations in a way
that was not available in the previous one.
As far as Coptic political participation is concerned the author would reject the legal quota
system for Coptic representation in parliament on the grounds that this isolates the Copts and
entrenches faith-based politics.”
130. Munir Hanna Anis Armanius, “Christian minorities in the Islamic world, an Egyptian
perspective,” Arab-West Report, Week 13, Art 29, September 15, 2005.URL:
“The statistics of 2004 show that the population of Egypt is 76 million, 93 percent are Sunni
Muslim, and 6 percent are Christians (mainly Coptic Orthodox), 1 percent or less are others.
Most Christians live in Upper Egypt and Cairo. Christians and Muslims share, to a great extent,
Egyptian social culture, like feasts which have been held since the time of the ancient
131. Muná al-Mallakh, “A Coptic party facing the Brotherhood,” A - u a ar in Arab West
Report, Week 39, Art 26, September 23, 2005. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“Interview with Mamdouh Nakhla, founder of Hizb al-Ummah al-Misrīya (The Egyptian Nation
Party) formerly known as Hizb Misr al-Qibtī (Egypt’s Coptic Party).
According to the latest statistics, Nakhla states that only 1% of the Copts in Egypt, representing
10-15% of the total of population, participate in political parties. Thus they considered
establishing a secular party that would integrate minorities into political life and so far they have
800 Coptic and 100 Muslim founding members.
Mamdouh Nakhla states that there are no prominent members of the party to avoid celebrities
being lured away, leaving the party in chaos as happened when Dr. Muna Makram ‘Ubayd left
al-Ghad party. The majority of members are 20-30 years-old from Assiut, Souhāj, Alexandria,
Banī Suwayf, al-Fayyoum and Cairo. The law stipulates that a party should comprises at least
1000 members and the party still needs more members from the other governorates so that the
party can be officially established by next October.”
132. Girgis Hilmi ‘Azir, “Changing Christian denominations on the black market,” Al-
Jumhūr yah in Arab West Report, Week 40, Art 56, September 29, 2005. URL:
“An international radio station [no name given] broadcasted a study conducted by Professor of
Sociology at the American University in Cairo, Dr. Sa‘īd Sādiq, which reveals that 95,000
Christians have converted to Islam in the recent period. [Editor: Country not mentioned but
probably Egypt]. The news was repeated in a way that apparently intended to incite. However,
not a single Copt turned a hair.”
133. Adil Najib Rizq, “Egypt’s Copts reject interference by expatriate Copts,” a t a -Ummah
in Arab West Report, Week 40, Art 47, October 3, 2005. URL:
“‘Ādil Najib Rizq accepts that Egypt has serious problems, but that the only way to eradicate
them is to join forces’ Muslims and Copts. He accepts that there have been clashes between
Muslims and Christians, but argues that this does not mean that there is persecution targeting the
He states that the Coptic activists allege that 15-20% of the Copts have emigrated due to
persecution. He states that this is untrue as many Muslims have also emigrated and states that
there are many reasons for emigration.
In reality, hundreds of thousands of young people apply to military colleges every year, of which
Copts make up a paltry 2%. As regards admission, one may easily discover that the acceptance
rate of Copts is reaching 4% and this provokes Copts to write about injustice and persecution.”
134. Sayyid Ghannam, “Pope Shenouda: No Church nominations for parliament,” Rose al-
Yūsuf in Arab West Report, Week 41, Art 44, October 5, 2005. URL:
“Pope Shenouda III has denied rumors that the Orthodox Church will nominate 30 Copts for the
coming parliamentary elections, telling Rose al-Yousuf that the Church does not nominate
candidates for elections. He added, "We held two seats in the outgoing parliament of 444
members. Does this represent the percentage of Copts in Egypt?"
135. ‘Abd al-Ghani ‘Abd al-Ghani, “The battle over Islamic shari‘a in Egypt,” A -A rār in
Arab West Report, Week 41, Art 9, October 9, 2005. URL:
“94% of the population in Egypt are Muslim, according to the data of Egypt’s Central Agency
for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).
In an opinion poll in 1985, the Cairo-based National Center for Social and Criminal Studies
found that 98% of Muslims and 68% of Christians approved application of the Islamic sharī‘a
(Editor: It is not likely they ’approved’ but it is more likely ’they did not object’). ‘Abd al-Ghanī
‘Abd al-Ghanī therefore states that the application of the Islamic sharī‘a is an Egyptian popular
demand (Editor: See earlier comment, not on basis of the given figures). The author accepts that
the Copts of 1985 differ from those of 2005, but he argues that a considerable number of
Egyptian Christians are still want to keep the sharī‘a as a frame of reference.”
136. Sulayman Shafiq, “Can’t we see how ugly we are?” Watani in Arab-West Report, Week
41, Art 31, October 9, 2005. URL:http://www.arabwestreport.info/node/8157.
Sulaymān Shafīq argues that according to the 1995 statistics [Reviewer's note: The author
perhaps was mistaken because the statistics were conducted in 1996, not 1995, as Christian
surveys are usually made every 10 years and the last ones took place in 1986], Copts represent
22.5 percent of the national wealth, and make nearly 10 percent of the total population, but with
a political representation of a paltry 1 percent.
137. Ahmad Pasha, “Copts reject quota in parliament,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West Report,
Week 41, Art 33, October 9, 2005. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2005/week-
“The head of the Coptic church has made public statements about the political representation
quota system, which Copts have rejected, fearing an increase in sectarian tensions and arguing
that the quota system runs counter to the principle of citizenship.
Set against the background of statements by Pope Shenouda III about a quota system for Coptic
representation in parliament, Copts have vehemently rejected the suggestion, fearing such
demands could augment sectarian sentiments and would run counter to the principle of
citizenship (Editor: This discussion is not new. Pope Shenouda commented in 2002 on the
election of only three Christians in the 444-seat parliament and then asked "Do Christians have
not the right to be fairly represented in parliament?" Pope Shenouda’s request for a "fair
representation” in the parliament has been interpreted by several authors as a request for a quota
system which was subsequently rejected but the Pope then had not explicitly asked for a quota
system (RNSAW, 2002, Week 44, Art. 7).
Expatriate Christians (Editor: a small minority of them) have called for 15 percent of the
parliamentary seats to be assigned to Copts, and Ahmed Pāshā states that the statements show the
identical agendas of Copts abroad and the Coptic Church in Egypt (Editor: that is too simplistic.
Copts in the countries of emigration are not united and neither are members of the Coptic
Orthodox Church. Pope Shenouda’s request for ’fair representation’ should not be interpreted as
a call for a quota system and certainly not the call for a quota of 15%. It is obvious from previous
discussions that not many Christians support a fixed quota for Christians which would mean a
Lebonization of the country, splitting up Egypt according to religious lines. It has all appearance
that those advocating a quota system represent only a small minority).”
138. “Should Copts have quota of parliamentary seats?” Al-Jumhūr yah in Arab West Report,
Week 42, Art 26, October 13, 2005. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2005/week-
“The decree appointing 10 deputies in parliament always intended to appoint several Copts, but
Copts believe that if elections were held in a free and fair atmosphere, they would get at least
10% of the seats.
Coptic member of Parliament Munīr Fakhrī ‘Abd al-Nour, member of parliament for the Wafd
Party, said he is entirely against the quota system on the grounds that it violates the principle of
MP Jourjīt Subhī said she has always called for seats for women in the Egyptian parliament, but
she would not go for dedicating seats for Copts.
Bibāwi (Nabīl Louqā Bibāwī, Deputy Head of the Culture and Information Committee in the
Shoura Council) pointed out that it is not the regime’s fault that the Copts are not represented. He
states that the Copts themselves are to blame, since despite there being 12 million Copts, there
are at least 7 million Copts above the age of 18, who do not register to vote (Editor: those
numbers are exaggerated, see earlier comments in AWR).”
139. George Ishaq, Dr. Hanna Gries, Rev. Ikram Lam‘i, Engineer Munir ‘Ayyad, Samih
Fawzi, Samir Marqus, “Messages from Egyptian Copts to expatriate Copts,” October
(Magazine) in Arab West Report, Week 42, Art 42, October 15, 2005. URL:
“A number of Egyptian Copts and clergy respond to ‘Adlī Abādīr’s invitation to the Washington
conference, scheduled for November 17.
The recommendations of the conference included the freedom to build houses of worship
[referring to churches] and specifying a percentage of 15% for Coptic political representation in
the parliament. These issues should be discussed inside Egypt because they are related to
Egyptian Muslims and Christians in the first place.
"Abādīr’s proposals are a pie in the sky. He is calling for a regional self-government in Upper
Egypt...He has no idea what self-government is.” Fawzī added.”
140. Yusuf Sidhum, “Problems on hold. Once more ...Why in Washington,” Watani
International in Arab West Report, Week 42, Art 47, October 16, 2005. URL:
“A discussion of the political rights of the Copts.
[…] while the president states that Copts amount to some ten percent of the population,
their share of appointments to State posts is in no way remotely close to then percent- in
some cases zero.
CH (May 2012): I do not know of any source where the president has made such a
Official statistics confirm that under the free schooling system in Egypt, Coptic pupils
and students from around then percent of the total student body from primary to high
education. It would around the same proportion of the State workforce that is if they are
given the same opportunities at appointments and promotions.
To prove my point, I cite data from ten presidential decrees, which were issued in the
interval from January to August 2005, to approve appointments to State posts. These
included administrative prosecution, delegates and assistant delegates to the State
Council, assistant councilors to the State Council, deputies to the head of the State
Council, and different appointments to the State Court Authority. Out of a total 1727
appointees, only 31 were Christians, their proportion ranging between 3.5 percent in
some posts and zero percent in others. No Christian was appointed as assistant councilor
at the State Council, deputy to the head of the State Council, or deputy to the head of the
State Court Authority.
The above-mentioned figures illustrate that the disproportionately meager share of Copts
in State posts begins with their insignificant numbers in the lower ranks, decreases
steadily in the higher ranks, and recedes completely in leadership ranks.”
CH (May 2012): AWR places articles from Watani International as they were published
by Watani International, including language errors that may have been published by
141. ‘Adil Jindi, “Egypt Front is ‘the Solution’ for vanquishing this party,” a a in Arab
West Report, Week 43, Art 51, October 23, 2005. URL:
“The National Democratic Party’s (NDP) 444 candidates in the parliamentary elections
included only seven women and two Copts, one of them a civil servant in the degree of
‘Ādil Jindī states that this party is clearly neither national nor democratic, for democracy
rests on values of freedom, equality and the representation of all groups in society.
He suggests that Copts appointed to the new parliament, usually not exceeding three or
four in number, refuse their appointments or tender a collective resignation.”
142. Hamdi al-Husayni, “Coptic candidates mostly depending on Muslim votes,” Rose al-
Yūsuf in Arab West Report, Week 44, Art 58, October 29, 2005. URL:
“Hamdī al-Husaynī states that for half a century, Egyptian Copts have kept their distance
from politics and have preferred to focus economic activities. As a result though, Copts’
political representation in parliament has been exclusive to appointment by the political
leadership. Yet in the current elections, a number of Copts have decided to run in the
People’s Assembly election on the National Front for Change slates.
In response to Pope Shenouda III, the Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark, thousands of
Copts participated in the first multi-candidate elections witnessed by Egypt.
The author states that one might have expected the ruling National Democratic Party
(NDP) to pay gratitude to the Copts in the parliamentary elections, but in fact only one
Copt was nominated by the NDP. Māhir Khilla was nominated in the Ghurbāl
constituency in Alexandria, but he threatened to withdraw his nomination due to the
recent incidents and Muslim demonstrations in front of the Mar Girgis Church in
Muharram Bik area of the city.
Hamdī al-Husaynī states that the Nasserite Party also failed to present a single strong
Coptic candidate to run in the constituencies they were sure to win. The Tajammu‘ Party
is the only party that has nominated more than five Copts among its 51 candidates. The
Wafd Party has three Coptic candidates from a total of 124 candidates.”
143. Tangi Salan, “Once More, Copts Are Targeted in Egypt,” Watani International in Arab
West Report, Week 44, Art 49, October 30, 2005. URL:
“The sectarian tensions in Alexandria are linked by the author to the electoral campaign between
Copts and Muslims in Alexandria.
Maher Khella, one of the two Coptic candidates of the ruling National Democratic Party (out of a
total of 444), requested the withdrawal of his candidacy "to help drop the tension". The
legislative elections, programmed in three phases between November 9 and December 7, will be
held November the 20 and 26 in Alexandria. Egypt is composed of Sunni Moslems (86.5%) and
Christians (13%), including Protestants (0.8%) and Catholics (0.4%).” (Editor: AWR: the
estimate of the percentage of Christians is too high, it is more likely between 6 and 8%, see
earlier comments in AWR.)
144. Timothy C. Morgan, “Copts’ Night of Terror: Rioting chills Muslim-Christian relations
as new parliament is elected,” Christianity Today in Arab West Report, Week 46, Art 25,
November 10, 2005. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2005/week-46/25-copts-
An investigation, carried out with help of AWR Editor-in-Chief, Cornelis Hulsman, into the
events surrounding the riots in Alexandria on Friday, October 21, 2005, among other things what
is discussed is the political tensions:
There were two Christian candidates in Alexandria on the November ballot: Maher Khella of the
ruling National Democratic Party and George Gabra, an independent. Some Christian leaders
believe that political opponents of Khella (from Muharram Bey) played a role in stimulating the
There are few other Coptic candidates running for office elsewhere in Egypt. The National
Democrats have only two Christians out of 444 candidates on the ballot. Political science
professor Mona Makram Ebeid, who as a woman and a Copt is a rarity in Egyptian politics, lost
in the first round of elections in a predominantly Christian electoral district.
Despite many limitations on Christianity in Egypt, Copts represent up to eight percent of the
population and many are deeply integrated into Egyptian society. Of Egypt’s 77 million people,
about 5 million or 6 million are Coptic Orthodox, Catholic, or Protestant. The Christian
population has its greatest concentration in rural Upper Egypt, hundreds of miles south of Cairo
along the Nile river.”
145. Amr al-Misri, Coptic conference in U.S. demands power-sharing deal like in southern
Sudan. Al-Ahrām, Al- aydā , Al-Usbū‘, October (Magazine) , Rose al-Yūsuf , a a in
Arab-West Report, Week 47, Art 47, November 16, 2005. URL:
At a Coptic conference in the U.S. Iskandar expressed his “concern about the proliferation of the
Coptic affair,” which involves actors that have nothing to do with Egyptian interests, he says.
Maurice Sadiq, another expatriate Copt, who attended the conference called for the formation of
a neutral organization to conduct an accurate census of Christians in Egypt.
Organizers of the conference called “for reserving 15 percent of the high-level and ministerial
positions to Copts as well as another 15 percent of parliamentary seats in order to have a fair
representation of the Copts in Egypt (Editor: suggesting Copts make 15% of Egyptian population
which is not true, see earlier comments in AWR).”
“In an interview with Radio Monte Carlo, leader of expatriate Copts, Abādīr, said the conference
was held in order to do something about the marginalization suffered by Copts in Egypt, alleging
that there are about 500,000 Copts living in cemeteries, receiving second-class treatment and
crushed under a rate of unemployment that is four times more than that of Muslims (Editor:
Abadir provides no evidence for these claims.).”
146. ‘Atif Hilmi, “Why do Copts fail in parliamentary elections?” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West
Report, Week 47, Art 51, November 19-25, 2005. URL:
The article looks at various Coptic candidates failure in the elections:
“Since the July 1952 revolution, no Copt from outside the NDP has ever managed to enter the
parliament except for a singe one: Jamal As‘ad ‘Abd al-Malāk, who entered the election two
times, first in 1984 on the Tajammu‘ Party list. The Tajammu‘ then succeeded in Assiut, but
failed to garner the 8 percent needed for the party’s representation in parliament.”
147. Majdi Khalil, “Democracy and minority rights,” a a in Arab West Report, Week 47,
Art 29, November 20, 2005. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2005/week-47/29-
“The author discusses the persecution of Copts in Egypt and his hopes that democracy in Egypt
will improve the Copts’ situation.
In accordance with the concept of representative democracy, the Copts should comprise 15% of
the legislative councils as well as political posts and state administrative positions [Editor: This
claim presumes Copts make up 15% of Egyptian society. This is certainly not true, but more
likely to be between 6 and 8%, see earlier discussions in AWR. This claim also suggests a kind
of Lebanization, a fixed percentage of Christians in certain positions based on an imaginary
percentage of Christians, which is a recipe for civil strife]. This representative democracy
reflects the efficiency, vitality and health of the political process.”
148. Yusuf Sidhum, “In Washington,” Watani International in Arab West Report, Week 47,
Art 48, November 20, 2005. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2005/week-47/48-
“The author predicts some of the resolutions that might come out of the Washington Conference
on "Supporting democratic change for Muslims and Christians in Egypt.”
Following an interim correctional policy to remedy the marginalisation of Copts" ”as in the case
of women and young people" ”modeled after the affirmative distinction accorded to peasants and
workers by granting them 50 per cent of Parliament seats. Copts could be granted a 10 "“ 15 per
cent proportion of seats in the Parliament, local councils, leadership posts and top positions in
the State, in order to consolidate equality and participation on the groundwork of common
149. Samir Marqus, “Copts...total flop,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West Report, Week 49, Art 47,
November 30, 2005. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2005/week-49/47-coptstotal-
“Samīr Marqus states that as far as Coptic representation is concerned, the recent parliamentary
elections brought nothing new. Over the last 40 years, no more than one percent of members of
parliament have been Copts, the only exception being in 1987, when six Copts were elected to
parliament out of a total number of 444, raising the rate to roughly 2%, with the exclusion of the
Copts appointed by virtue of a presidential decree.”
150. Husayn ‘Abd al-Raziq, “For the sake of the country, not the Copts,” Al-Wafd in Arab
West Report, Week 49, Art 15, December 2, 2005. URL:
“Head of the Ibn Khaldoun Center for Development Studies, Dr. Sa‘d al-Dīn Ibrāhīm, has
always referred to the discriminatory practices against Copts in Egypt. The author states that
despite forming about 10% of the total population [Editor: That estimate is too high, the number
of Copts is more likely around 6 to 8%, see earlier comments in AWR] and owning about 20%
of the country’s wealth, the Egyptian government is still taking a negative attitude towards the
Copts. History curricula and textbooks deliberately ignore the Coptic history that lasted from 70
through 641 AD. (See AWR 2002, 43, art. 15 for Wolfram Reiss’s comment about Egyptian
curricula’s treatment of Christian history.)”
151. Majdi Khalil, “Democracy and the rights of minorities: The Coptic case,” Watani
International in Arab West Report, Week 49, Art 21, December 4, 2005. URL:
“The first concept is Representative Democracy: a form of democracy in which voters choose (in
free, secret, multi-party elections) representatives to act in their interests. According to that
concept any democratic system that does not include an adequate representation of the different
segments and groups that constitute the society is a flawed and faulty system.
The second concept is Representative Bureaucracy, which is a theory that suggests that
organizations perform better if their workforces reflect the characteristics of their constituent
populations. In a real democracy, there should be a place within the different levels of the
political structure (from bottom to peak) for each and all groups that constitute the society;
otherwise the democratic system is also flawed and deficient.
When a political system is missing one or both of those concepts, it has to resort to "affirmative
action” measures that would allow the democratic system to remedy the situation and correct
itself in the future.
Based on that, 15% percent of the seats in legislative councils should be reserved for Copts
[Editor: Asking for a fixed percentage would lead to Lebanonization, that is giving religious
affiliation priority over being qualified for a particular function and second, 15% is an over-
estimate of the number of Copts in Egypt, somewhere between 6 and 8%. This in turn would fuel
religious conflicts in Egypt], and 30% for women, and the same should apply to political posts
and public administrative positions. These measures will rectify the course of the Egyptian
political system, and will enable it, in the future, to make the necessary adjustments to evolve
into a modern democratic regime.”
152. Nabil Luqa Bibawi, “Proportional representation of Copts in parliament,” Al-Akhbār in
Arab West Report, Week 51, Art 39, December 14, 2005. URL:
“Dr. Nabīl Louqā Bibāwī writes that many Egyptians, especially Copts, consider election day to
be a national holiday. According to the author, the lack of Coptic representation in parliament
urged late President Jamāl ‘Abd al-Nāsir to amend Article 87 of the Egyptian constitution,
granting the president the authority to appoint 10 members of parliament.
Five Copts were appointed as members of parliament in 1984, four Copts in 1987 and six Copts
in 1990 and in 1995.
Due to Copts’ passivity, the author argues, it has become quite impossible for any Coptic
candidate to win in parliamentary elections and the 2005 voting is a case in point.”
153. Mahmud Nafi‘, “Muslims, Christians united,” Al-Jumhūr yah in Arab West Report, Week
51, Art 18, December 15, 2005. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2005/week-
The author praises President Husnī Mubārak’s decision to authorize governors to give
permission for the building and renovation of churches.
According to the new presidential decree, Nāfi‘ clarifies, the government has 30 days during
which to approve church requests for renovations. Moreover, governors entrusted with making
church-related decisions must justify a rejection.
By canceling the Hamayouni Decree, an Ottoman law dating back to 1856 which required the
president’s personal approval for the simplest of repairs, Nāfi‘ argues that Mubārak has put an
end to sedition in Egypt.
Less than one week after this decree, President Mubārak appointed five Copts to parliament
among the 10 members he is constitutionally mandated to appoint (Muslim or Copt, to bring in
skills that might be important in parliamentary discussions).
Nāfi‘ writes that despite the new decree to make church repairs easier, "sedition mongers have
accused President Mubārak of making the situation even more worse, arguing that according to
the new decree, the matter has been referred to 26 governors, with all the related bureaucracy.”
154. Manal Mahran, “Head of the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics: No
sectarianism in Egypt,” Al-Usbū‘ in Arab West Report, Week 51, Art 25, December 19, 2005.
“Head of the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMS) Major General
Abu Bakr al-Jindī has denied all allegations of sectarianism on the part of the agency.
Asked about the number of churches in Egypt, al-Jindī says that there are about 1950 churches
and monasteries nationwide. Latest statistics, collected last August, show that there are 92,611
mosques in Egypt. Al-Jindī has also pointed out that the central agency is the only official
authority in charge of collecting data and presenting statistics.”
155. Nabil Luqa Bibawi, “The Copts and the weeping policy,” Al-Akhbār in Arab West
Report, Week 52, Art 31, December 21, 2005. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“Nabīl Luqa Babawī, author of the article, blames the Copts for their stance towards the
elections. He says that all the Copts, both inside and outside Egypt, wail and weep. He believes
that it is their own fault if their political role is marginalized. He estimates the number of the
Copts at 12,000,000 people of which 6,000,000 are over 18 years old and can be registered to
vote. (Editor: these figures are nonsense. The number of Copts is estimated to be between 6 and
8% of population, which provides with a population of 75 million people perhaps 6 million
156. ‘Azīz, Andrāwus, “The census of the Copts by the Church, a religious sin?” Rose al-
Yūsuf in Arab-West Report, Week 52, Art 32, December 21, 2005. URL:
Andrāwus ‘Azīz comments on the claims that there are an estimated 10 or 12 million Copts in
Egypt, which is linked to claims the Copts deserve a quota of parliamentary seats and high
offices in ministries and universities. He wonders how the church could conduct such a census.
He states that this is against the spiritual role of the Church and raises doubts about the purpose
this census will serve. He also argues that we do not need know the exact number, because it
would encourage foreign interference on the pretext of protecting minorities. He argues that the
census of the Copts by the Church is a religious sin that incurs divine wrath, referring to 2
CH (May 2012): the linkage of an estimate of the number of Copts to political claims is correct
but the argument that counting would encourage foreign intervention is an populist argument that
is also used in government circles.
157. Rushdi al-Daqn, “Copts: Slogans of the banned group denied us equal rights in
elections,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West Report, Week 52, Art 44, December 21, 2005. URL:
“About 34 Coptic candidates ran for the recent parliamentary elections, two of whom were
nominated by the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP); Minister of Finance, Dr. Yousuf
Butrus Ghālī and Māhir Nakhla [no information mentioned about him]. Opposition parties
nominated 15 Coptic candidates, none of whom managed to secure a seat in the parliament. The
Ghad Party nominated 17 Copts whereas the Wafd nominated only five.
The Tajammu‘ Party candidate for the Mīnyā constituency, Dr. Wajīh Shukrī, said that the
Muslim Brotherhood’s religious slogans contributed to his loss in the election, despite around 25
percent of the population of the [electoral] district being Coptic, he said (is this estimate
accurate? Was this the reason why he lost?)”
158. Diana al-Dab‘, “Rev. Safwat al-Bayyadi to Rose al-Yousuf: Mubarak’s decree to entrust
governors with making church-related decisions came at the right moment,” Rose al-Yūsuf in
Arab West Report, Week 53, Art 27, December 28, 2005. URL:
“This year, the Evangelical Church celebrates 150 years of ministry in Egypt [See AWR 2005,
47, art. 44]. Diana al-Dabc writes that since the church was first established in Egypt, it has
become part and parcel of Egyptian society.
Asked about the number of Evangelicals in Egypt, Rev. al-Bayyādī estimates it at around
750,000 [Editor: This number seems to be much too high]. Throughout its 150-year history in
Egypt, the Evangelical denomination has established 1200 Evangelical churches. Since 1854, he
adds, the church has placed social work among its priorities. It has opened schools and classes to
overcome adult illiteracy and provided medical services to a number of poor villages. Rev. al-
Bayyādi makes it clear these education and health services are provided to all Egyptians,
regardless of religion or sex.”
159. Musafá Rajab, “Personal relations behind the increasing number of Christian employees.
U.S. embassy denies sacking 20 Muslim Egyptian employees,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West
Report, Week 53, Art 16, December 30, 2005. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/16-
“The U.S. Embassy in Cairo (http://egypt.usembassy.gov/) has denied rumors published on an
internet website, al-Misrīyoun (Reviewer: No link found), that it has been under pressure to
dismiss 20 Muslim employees working at the embassy.”
“Al-Misrīyoun (Egyptians) website, close to the suspended Egyptian Labor Party and the banned
Muslim Brotherhood published yesterday a report entitled "Pressures by expatriate Copts to sack
20 Muslim employees from U.S. Embassy in Cairo."
160. Janique Blattmann, “Christian Solidarity International claiming forced conversion of
Coptic girls to Islam,” Arab-West Report, Week 53, Art 8, December 31, 2005. URL:
Between 1995 and today, staff members of Arab-West Report (formerly called Religious
News Service from the Arab World (RNSAW)) have investigated around 200 of claims of
forced conversion of Christian girls in Egypt and found not a single one of them to involve
kidnap, i.e. the use of physical force to get young Coptic girls to convert to Islam. (The most
comprehensive material is the report “Forced Conversions or not?” New York Council of
Churches, June 28, 1999 (RNSAW 1999, 26A, art. 37. URL:
http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-1999/week-26/37-forced-conversions-or-not), the report
“Conversions of Christians to Islam,” by Dr. Rodolph Yanney, January 9, 2001 (RNSAW
2001, 01A, art. 4) and the “Open letter to former US Congressman Pastor Ed McNeely”
(AWR 2003, 30, art. 34). Also see AWR 2004, 28, arts. 21-22, 37-38, and AWR 2004, 36,
art. 28 for the case of Injī Edward Nājī) In most cases, it was rather the male members of the
family who claimed that their daughter was kidnapped in order to save the honor of the
family and cover the shame it means for them that their daughter had a relationship with a
Muslim man. Several girls have been found to see marriage with a Muslim man as the easiest
way of escape from social problems, poverty or violence in their own family.”
161. Tal‘at Jad Allah, “Citizenship: Base for civil state,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West Report,
Week 5, Art 69, January 12, 2006. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2006/week-
“Tal‘at Jād Allāh states that Egyptian Copts are marginalized on the political scene and are thus
deprived of some of their basic citizenship rights.
The author makes it clear that the marginalization of Copts has increased the sense of injustice
they harbor. It has also disgraced Egypt as a country that adopts a discriminative policy against
The ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) has nominated only two Copts on its slate for
parliament, which included 444 candidates. The author claims that the NDP is fully satisfied with
the marginalization of Copts, and makes no effort to secure a proportional representation of
Copts in the legislative council.
According to the author, the Shoura (legislative) Council adopts the same policy of
marginalization against Copts. Under the Egyptian constitution, the government elects one-third
of the Shoura Council’s members. (Reviewer: It is the president who appoints this one-third! The
author refers to the president as the government. Are they one and the same?)”
162. Majdi Khalil, “Christians oppressed,” a a in Arab West Report, Week 5, Art 40,
January 29, 2006. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2006/week-5/40-christians-
“Coptic activist Majdī Khalīl claims discrimination against Copts in Egypt and cites a number of
incidents where Copts are openly discriminated against and treated unfairly by authorities.
Copts "have in the last half-century experienced institutionalized discrimination that renders
them little more than second-class citizens.” This was different during the liberal age prior to the
Egyptian revolution of 1952. Since that year, "Copts have been largely excluded from the top
echelons of political and administrative bodies.” There has been only one Christian governor, of
Sinai, for one period of two years. "Not one has since held a key cabinet portfolio; not one has
even been appointed mayor of a city or town. Currently, Copts are sorely underrepresented in
parliament, occupying only seven of 454 seats. They are also underrepresented in academia,
especially state universities; despite the vast numbers of qualified and respected Coptic scholars,
not one has been appointed rector of a university or dean of a college.”
163. Hani al-A‘sar, “10,000,000 Copts, 8,000 churches in Egypt: Too many or too few
churches?” Al-Dustūr in Arab West Report, Week 8, Art 32, February 15, 2006. URL:
“Recent statistics published by al-Majlis al-Mīllī have revealed that there are an estimated 11,000
churches in Egypt, whereas latest official governmental statistics show that there are about 8,000
churches in Egypt (Editor: The numbers seem to be too high).
[…] Given the population of Copts in Egypt, estimated at 10,000,000 (Reviewer: No source
given for this figure. We stated in earlier comments that the number of Copts in Egypt is
estimated to be between 6 and 8% of population, which is, with an Egyptian population of 75
million, between 4,5 and 6 million), and the fact that there are some villages with a Coptic
majority and no single church, many Christians complain about the restrictions on building
churches and are calling urgently for a unified law on the construction of houses of worship.”
164. Wail Lutfi, “Nation-devastating sects,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West Report, Week 10,
Art 27, March 4-10, 2006. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2006/week-10/27-
“In comparison to countries like Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, Egypt's religions and doctrines are
homogenous in that there is a large unified bloc, and other groups that do not pose a threat, holds
Wā'il Lutfī. Muslims in Egypt make (Editor: AWR's estimate is roughly 92% Muslim and 6 - 8%
Christian. Lutfī's estimate may be accurate though in terms of how many people are actively
religious.) 75% of the population; the majority of them are Sunnis, with a thin minority of
Shi'ites that does not exceed 000.1 percent, said author Wā'il Lutfī in an article.
The same thing applies to the Copts, he says. The majority of Christian population is Coptic
Orthodox, with small minorities of Evangelicals and Catholics.”
165. Majdi Khalil, “The Muslim Brotherhood and the Copts,” Watani International in Arab
West Report, Week 11, Art 20, March 12, 2006. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“An article about the Muslim Brotherhood’s intent to establish a state that has a religious, and
not civil nature, and the attitude of the Muslim Brotherhood towards the Copts.
The Muslim Brotherhood and their allies insist that the Coptic population amounts to only 6% of
Egypt’s total population, in spite of a recent official declaration by Osama Al-Baz that the Copts
constitute 12.5% of Egypt’s population, and despite the fact that other organizations have
estimated the number of Copts to be 15 millions, i.e., 20% of the population. Meanwhile, the
Muslim Brotherhood claims that the Shi’a amount to 30% of the total population of Iraq, while it
is a well-known fact that they constitute 50-60% of the population (Mona Al-Tahawi, Asharq Al-
Awsat, 8 Aug 2005). This purposeful twisting of numbers and percentages is a strategy used by
the Muslim Brotherhood to deny the rights of their opponents, and on this point, they are worse
in deceit compared to the current Egyptian regime.”
166. “Coptic schools … Egypt’s future,” a a in Arab West Report, Week 12, Art 39,
March 13, 2006. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2006/week-12/39-coptic-
“Father Youhannā Nasīf from Alexandria tackles the expansion of the number of Coptic schools
in Egypt. He suggests building new Coptic schools to eliminate fanatical ideologies and to
increase acceptance of ‘the other’
In the middle of the nineteenth century, around 50% of the schools in Egypt were Coptic schools.
All who received their education there witnessed peaceful coexistence and love between Muslim
and Christian students. After the July 1952 revolution, all educational standards deteriorated in
schools in general, according to Youhannā Nasīf. In parallel, the Copts neglected their schools
and did not build any new schools. The author thinks that this helped to spread fanaticism in
governmental schools which might have led to terrorism or at least have torn the nation apart.”
167. “Playing with fire: Ridda cases in the State Council,” Al-Wafd in Arab West Report,
Week 12, Art 6, March 17, 2006. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2006/week-
“Wahīd Sha‘bān discusses the important problem of Christians who convert to Islam and then
change their minds and want to return back to Christianity. There have been more than 250
lawsuits before the Egyptian judicial system in the last couple of weeks, whereby people wishing
to return to Christianity ask to change their names and religion on their identity cards. The author
states that these kind of cases are increasing in a strange manner.
These lawsuits have been raised against the prime minister, the minister of justice and the
minister of interior affairs, and claim that those Christians who convert to Islam and then wish to
return to Christianity face a lot of problems. Those people turn to the Coptic church and the
church accepts their return to Christianity, but when they return to the official records they find
themselves still registered as Muslims and officials refuse to change their data, which Wahīd
Sha‘bān claims is an unconstitional and illegal way of forcing them to stay as Muslims.”
168. ‘Imad Nasif, “The upcoming Maglis Melli [Majlis al-Milli ] elections, steering in the
same direction,” Watani International in Arab West Report, Week 13, Art 46, March 26,
2006. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2006/week-13/46-upcoming-maglis-melli-
“Discussion of the history of the Majlis al-Mīllī, the Coptic Orthodox denominational council,
and the current problems it faces. The present Mīllī Council ended its term on 20 March, and
elections for a new council will be duly conducted. Tharwat Bassili, deputy of the current
council, is urging Copts to vote. Copts, he told Watani, are notorious for their apathy not only in
the political life, but also as far as the Mīllī Council elections are concerned.
However, there is some progress, since the number of Coptic registered voters has this year risen
to some 5000, but the number still remains far below effective Coptic representation.
Many Coptic liberals wish for a more active role for the future Mīllī Council. Mamdouh Ramzi,
vice-president of the Dostouri (Constitutional) liberal political party and a well-known lawyer,
says that the Melli Council’s role in the management of Coptic secular issues has shrunk lately.
In the elections, Pope Shenouda III usually draws up a list of 24 candidates of his supporters
from among the various nominees, which he calls the St Mark list and which he backs. Many
voters feel they are under a moral obligation to vote for the candidates on the Pope’s list.”
169. Cornelis Hulsman, “Bishop Marqus commenting on Bishop Munir’s lecture,” Arab-West
Report, Week 13, Art 32, March 28, 2006. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
The debate, however, concentrates on the estimate of the number of Christians in Egypt.
Estimates generally range anywhere from 5 to 20% of the Egyptian population. Bishop Munīr
estimates the number of Christians at around 6% to 7% of population. Bishop Marqus believes it
is more likely to be 15%.
With such wide differences in estimating the number of Christians in Egypt it is understandable
that these numbers are frequently the basis for debate. The cause is that many Egyptian
Christians have little confidence in government statistics about their numbers, believing them to
be politically motivated. On the other hand there is good reason to believe that the higher
estimates about the number of Christians in Egypt are also politically motivated. The higher
estimates are found with some clergy and Christian advocacy organizations, who often use their
figures to argue that Christians are under-represented in various sectors of Egyptian society.
The Middle East and North Africa, 1976-1977, Europa Publications Ltd, London, 1976,
presented the following demographics for 1975. A total Egyptian population of 37,230,000,
including over 1,250,000 Christians. That makes a percentage of 3.36% of the total population.
Twenty years later the Middle East and North Africa presents a population of 48,254,000 with
three million Christians according to government statistics, making a percentage of 6,2% of the
Egyptian population. This reference work also states that Coptic sources give estimates ranging
between 6 and 7 million, with 1 million for other Christian denominations, providing an estimate
ranging between 14,5 to 16,5%.
Human Rights Watch mentions that Christians claim that the Egyptian state has consistently and
deliberately under-estimated the number of Christians in Egypt.
The allegations about the government deliberately underestimating the number of Christians in
Egypt made Nabil Osman, head of the State Information Service in the mid-1990s, explain to the
author that CAPMAS, the Egyptian statistical agency, would no longer publish the number of
Christians in its statistics. Nabil Osman, however, had seen statistics and stated that a figure of
around 6% is reliable.
US government figures:
The US Country Reports on Human Rights Practices – 2000 estimate that approximately 10
percent of the Egyptian population is Christian. The CIA World Fact Book in the mid-1990s
presented a figure of 6%. Numbers, however, changed and the US International Religious
Freedom Report 2004 estimates that “approximately 8 to 10 percent of citizens are Christians”
and the CIA World Fact Book 2006 states that 9% of the Egyptian population is Coptic Christian
and 1% belongs to non-specified other denominations
Metropolitan Bīshoy, Secretary of the Holy Synod, gave an estimate of 10% of the population of
Egypt being Christian, RNSAW 2002, 47A, art. 16.
The French scholar Philippe Farges researched the statistics of Christians in the Arab world and
suggests that in Egypt, based on demographic methods, an estimated 5-6% of the population are
Christian. A Catholic priest in al-Minia has systematically asked young Christian men who were
called to serve in the army how many Christians served in their unit. The assumption is that
regulations to serve in the army are equal for both Muslims and Christians. The conclusion after
over 15 years of systematic work was that the Christian conscripts made up around 5% of the
total number of conscripts. The results of both investigations make a Christian percentage of 5 to
6% of the total population more likely.
If we assume that Egyptian and US government estimates of the number of Christians in Egypt
could be politically-motivated, then we should also be cautious about the national estimates
presented by the higher clergy of the Coptic Orthodox Church. The discussion about statistics is
not new and in the mid-1980s I therefore went to bishops in Upper Egypt, Cairo and the Delta to
collect local statistics about the number of Christians in dioceses in the belief that local bishops
are closer to their flock and are thus more likely to reflect reality. I computed those figures and
then came to a percentage of around 8%. I showed those figures to Dr. Otto Meinardus and Dr.
Milād Hannā who then stated that the 8% seemed to be realistic.
The figure presented by diocesan bishops is, however, still inflated. There is the tendency of
bishops and priests to include Christians from their diocese who migrated to Cairo, Alexandria or
other cities as still belonging to the diocese in which they were born, and thus there is the risk
that some Christians are double calculated.
There is no doubt that the percentage of Christians in Egypt is declining. An estimated 75% of all
Egyptians who have emigrated to Western countries since the 1970s are Christian. Bishop
Marqus pointed to Muslims generally having larger families then Christians. Another factor is
Christians converting to Islam. That number is debatable, but certainly a few thousand young
Christians convert to Islam annually, while the number of Muslims leaving Islam is very small.
AWR generally estimates the percentage of Christians in Egypt to range between 6 and 8% of
the population. The total population is likely to be around 75 million, giving an estimated
number of 4.5 to 6 million Christians.
170. Cornelis Hulsman and Elizabeth Yell, “Polemics discussion paper,” Arab-West Report,
Week 17, Art 56, April 26, 2006. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2006/week-
Concerning population statistics, Patrick Johnstone (1993) says that the percentage of Christians
is ‘14,2%, officially 6%. Some Christians claim 20%.’ He doesn’t give the source for the figure
of 14.2%. I have been corresponding with the author about this figure and provided arguments
based on academic research, and my own investigative work in 1985 when I systematically
asked Egyptian bishops for statistics in their diocese and Egyptian sources which, based on the
figures the bishops then provided, made that the percentage to be more likely around 6-8%.
Johnstone chose to neglect the figures I then presented.
171. Ramzi Zaqlamah, “When the sense of belonging is absent,” Al-Wafd in Arab-West
Report, Week 19, Art 78, May 6, 2006. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
Egyptians lose the sense of belonging to their motherland as many young men are forced, due to
moribund economic conditions, to leave their own country to seek a decent living standard
abroad, something their own country has failed to provide. Many youths have run into
unimaginable debts in search of a decent life abroad but unfortunately they ended up drowning
off the Libyan or Greek coasts or being imprisoned inside Italian jails on charges of illegal
CH: Interesting this prominent Coptic author, unlike many Coptic activists in the West, only
refers to economic motives and not freedom of religion or other human rights related factors.
172. The Free Copts, “The Montreal Conference for Coptic associations and activists,” Watani
International in Arab West Report, Week 19, Art 71, May 7, 2006. URL:
“A group of activists and members of Coptic associations met during April 7-9, 2006, in
Montreal, Canada, to review and debate the situation of the Copts in Egypt and the future of
Coptic activism. The participants have agreed on the following:
3. To put an end to the policy that has been long been applied against the Copts setting a ceiling
that doesn’t usually exceed 1-2% for their job entitlements. Practical measures, requiring no
more than some orders by the top officials of the state, must be taken to ensure that admissions to
military academies, judiciary and diplomatic corps, university teaching staff, and police agencies
include within their ranks no less than 15% of Copts. Acts of religious discrimination must be
prohibited and punished by law
4. To amend the constitution and electoral laws so as to ensure a proportional representation of
the Copts -- at no less than 15% - in all representative councils (People’s Assembly, Shura
Council and local councils). That would be in application of the Affirmative Action measures;
keeping in mind that the same principle has been applied as regards to workers and farmers, and
is currently being contemplated in regards to women.”
173. Nirmin Jamal, “Interior minister accuses Copts who convert back to Christianity of
igniting sectarian sedition,” a t a -Ummah in Arab West Report, Week 19, Art 53, May 8,
2006. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2006/week-19/53-interior-minister-
The Egyptian minister of interior, Major General Habīb al-‘Ādlī, Tuesday submitted a
memorandum to the Administrative Judicial Court, headed by Judge Fārouq ‘Abd al-
Qādir, asking the court to dismiss the lawsuits filed by 150 Copts who embraced Islam
and afterwards decided to convert back to Christianity and accusing the converts of
igniting sectarian sedition and threatening the national unity of Egypt. In his
memorandum to the court, the minister said that those who want to convert back to
Christianity should first be referred to the Civil Status Department [Maslahat al-Ahwāl
al- Madanīya], under article 46 of law no. 143 of the year 1994. Al-‘Ādlī indicated that
“Islam is the religion of the state and that the principles of the Islamic sharī‘a are the
main source of legislation in Egypt.
174. Mukhtar Sidhum, “Egypt’s sectarian problem would never develop into another
Lebanon,” Al-Qāhirah in Arab West Report, Week 20, Art 89, May 16, 2006. URL:
“The author reviews on a full page three books by three different writers dealing with the Copts
of Egypt and the history of their relations with Muslims.
[…] the ties binding Muslims and Christians in Egypt saw perfection during the period from
1923 to 1952.
Dr. Hannā elaborated that this period of Egypt’s history witnessed the largest political
participation of Copts, pointing out that Coptic ministers in some Wafd Party governments made
up to 20 percent and that this period also witnessed the first "“ and the last "“ Coptic speaker of
parliament, Wīsā Wāsif.”
175. Jamil Wasfi, “Overseas Copts, their role and duties,” a a in Arab-West Report, Week
21, Art 48, May 21, 2006. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2006/week-21/48-
The writer states that many reasons have led to the waves of Coptic emigration; their economic
status was greatly influenced by the nationalization and political decisions made by ‘Abd al-
Nāsir.The second wave of emigration took place at the time of President Sādāt with the rise of
the Islamic fundamentalist groups in combination with economic openness and the migration of
many Egyptians to the Gulf. Middle class Copts suddenly found themselves at the bottom of the
Copts should be pulled out of isolation and encouraged to participate in Egypt’s political and
social life. He also suggests development projects and Coptic investments such projects.
Overseas Copts should provide Coptic churches and organizations with required tools and plans
and could serve their fellow citizens, either through donations or through useful projects. The
writer thinks that the Islamic–Christian dialogue is essential to avoid fanaticism. Cooperation
between overseas Copts and the state is extremely important.
176. Muná al-Mallakh, “Divorce your wife for 10,000 pounds only!” A - u a ar in Arab
West Report, Week 23, Art 48, June 2, 2006. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
According to Pope Shenouda III, Girgis Hilmī ‘Āzir, more Evangelical churches, 35 in Egypt,
have been selling these certificates. The Greek Orthodox Church sells each certificate for
200EGP. He adds that another former bishop, Bishop Boulus in Hilwān, a southern Cairo suburb,
used to issue such certificates as well until Pope Shenouda III assumed his duties and prohibited
divorce except in cases of adultery.
‘Āzir states that until now, some lawyers still issue these kinds of certificates. He believes that
the only solution for this problem is another prohibition from the Holy Synod of the Egyptian
church. As for the Catholic Church, Father Rafīq Jirīsh thinks that it is a cheap way of trading
with the hallowed. He believes that Egyptian laws are the reason behind the practice, since it
does not allow every denomination to apply its rules regarding personal status issues.
Najīb Jibrāīl, a lawyer, reports at least 4000 cases of changes of denominations to get a divorce.
He believes that the unified draft law for Christians’ personal status, which was presented to the
Ministry of Justice since 1998, is the only solution.
177. ‘Ila ‘Adil, “Secret churches in Egypt,” Al-Fajr in Arab West Report, Week 25, Art 46,
June 19, 2006. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2006/week-25/46-secret-churches-
“There are around fifty time bombs spread out in the Egyptian streets, ‘Ulā ‘Ādil said, asserting
that these time bombs are the secret churches. These churches were built without any
governmental licenses, due to the inflexibility of the government in providing such licenses, she
“Some Coptic sources asserted that Cairo alone has more than 20 secret churches, mainly in al-
Sharabiyā and al-Wāylī suburbs, in addition to other churches in the new Cairo suburb, Shibīn
al-Koum governorate as well as in the Bishīl suburb. Souhāj governorate has the biggest number
of secret churches in the Upper Egypt, mainly in the city of Tamā, the author stated,
underling that the security forces had managed to close one of these churches.”
178. ‘Imad Basili, “Copts in Egypt: 30% in Asyout, 25% in al-Minya,” Al- aydā in Arab-
West Report, Week 26, Art 56, June 22, 2006. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“Imad Basili argues that the government’s culture of secrecy has disguised the true number of
Copts in Egypt. While official statistics indicate that Copts constitute 7 to 10% of Egypt’s
population, the Coptic Orthodox Church says that there are an estimated 10 million Copts in
179. Samih Sami, “Continuous dialogue with the government and focus on internal issues in
order to achieve full citizenship,” a a in Arab-West Report, Week 26, Art 33, June 25,
2006. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2006/week-26/33-continuous-dialogue-
The author interviewed Engineer Sāmī al-Bihirī, Copt and described as a cynical writer, about
his motivations to emigrate. “I was in the United States during the September 11 attacks, and was
deeply touched by this cruel crime. I then decided to stay in the States and help young people
keep away from extremism.” Reviewer Sawsan Mustafa disagrees with him and states “many
emigrants to the West state noble motives, but in fact migrated because living in the West offers
better economical and living opportunities.” This is a “formulation made for public
consumption.” Later developments in Egypt are for him a confirmation that he made the right
decision. This includes a victory of Muslim Brotherhood candidatesin the Egyptian
parliamentary elections. “As a child, I felt the unequal treatment of Copts in Egypt. On the
popular level, Muslims consider us inferior (Sawsan Mustafa finds that a generalization) and on
the government level, we are denied access to some specific government positions. There could
be solutions if Copts unite among themselves, and both the Muslims and the government show
their willingness to engage in real dialogue.”
180. Labib Halim, “The electoral list is unconstitutional and violates church laws,” Rose al-
Yūsuf in Arab West Report, Week 27, Art 42, July 1-4, 2006. URL:
“The author (a judge) argues that the articles, which regulate the election of the Coptic Patriarch
are unconstitutional and violate the laws of the Apostles as well as church laws which oblige all
Copts to choose their pastor and pope. Article eight of the patriarch electoral list stipulates that
the voter, in order to be registered on the electoral roll, must be an Egyptian Copt and not less
than thirty-five years of age. He must hold a bachelor’s degree and must be a current or a former
public servant, a bank or a company employee, or a literate taxpayer. While article nine of the
electoral list stipulates that bishops, archbishops, the heads of monasteries, its secretaries and its
agents, members of the spiritual council, the agents of the archdioceses, 24 priests from Cairo,
seven priests from Alexandria, current and former Coptic ministers, former and current members
and deputies of al-Majlis al-Millī (Reviewer: the Community Council) and the owners of
newspapers and journalists who are members of the Press Syndicate are the only persons entitled
to be registered on the electoral roll.
181. Kamal Zakhir Musá, “The future of the Coptic Church is at stake,” Rose al-Yūsuf in
Arab West Report, Week 27, Art 51, July 1-7, 2006. URL:
“The author says that the future of Egypt’s Coptic Orthodox Church will remain an obsession
preoccupying everyone concerned with the church, and even a public affair because the church is
one of the institutions that has an effect on fine-tuning the nation’s stability.
He notes that this is not merely because the church is a religious institution encompassing about
10 million Egyptian Christians (Editor: this number is too high. The following Western studies
show convincingly that the percentage of Christians is not likely to be much higher than 6%.).”
182. Kamal Zakhir Musá, “Reconsidering the regulations of the Coptic Church is required,”
Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab-West Report, Week 27, Art 52, July 1-7, 2006. URL:
“The author states that the Coptic Orthodox Church is a vital religious and political institution in
Egypt, bringing together about 10 million Christians,” without providing a reference.
183. Majid ‘Atiyah, “The thanawiya ‘amma and Copts…absent for the first time,” a a in
Arab West Report, Week 30, Art 4, July 23, 2006. URL:
“The author says that throughout the past 50 years the lists of the top 10 students in the
thānawīya ‘amma (Egyptian high school) have never been void of two or three Copts and have
always included at least one.
However this year the list contained 36 names without a single Coptic student amongst them. He
wonders whether there was some tampering with the criteria of selecting the top-notch students
of the thānawīya ‘amma. He notes that the education ministry announced that 70 students had
attained 100% degrees but later the number was reduced to 36. The author again wondered
which students were selected and which were excluded.
The author also notes that he does not rule out this possibility because when 216 persons were
promoted within the education ministry, including 80 educators, there was not a single Copt
among them. When 136 persons were promoted in the ministry’s administrative sector, only nine
Copts were included.
On the other hand, 600 persons were promoted in the State Lawsuits Authority, 71 new members
were appointed and 25 persons were promoted to a deputy chairman position. However this only
included one Copt. Furthermore 72 persons were promoted to the under secretary position
including two Copts only.”
184. Tal‘at Radwan, “Quota system or secularism to rescue citizenship?” a a in Arab West
Report, Week 30, Art 46, July 23, 2006. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“The author argues that the quota system for Egyptian Christians in parliamentary and state
positions will not offer a good solution to the problem of religious fanaticism […]. Habīb has
actually said "the Brotherhood rejects any constitution that stands on secular or civil laws and
accordingly the Copts may not form a political entity in this country." Habīb, in statements to al-
Zamān newspaper dated May 17, 2005, added "when the Brotherhood comes to power they will
replace the current constitution with an Islamic one that will deny non-Muslims top state and
armed forces positions, which will be exclusively for Muslims."
The controversy unfolded when some liberals demanded a fair quota of 10 to 15 percent of
governmental positions and parliamentary seats for Copts. If it materializes, this demand will not
solve the problem of religious fanaticism amongst the citizens of the Egyptian nation but rather
will consolidate the status quo. The author wonders whether Christians appointed by the
government to parliament would represent Christian citizens or the Egyptian nation, adding that
this is one of the reasons he rejects this sectarian demand which could lead to further
disintegration of Egypt.”
185. Hermann Veenhof, “Also ‘Christian persecution’ needs to be checked,” Nederlands
Dagblad in Arab West Report, Week 32, Art 3, August 5, 2006. URL:
“The author discusses the prevalence of rumors in Egypt and how often the consequences of
such rumors are more serious than their original cause. He notes the work of Hulsman in
researching the factual events of claims of Christian persecution and Muslim outrage and in
providing an electronic databank and translation service so that the Western and Arab world can
become acquainted with each other’s media.
Hulsman sees much disaster in the long run. By the year 2050 Egypt will count 140 million
inhabitants and will be ten times as densely populated as The Netherlands. Around twenty
percent of Egyptians are middle class or rich. In this mostly well-educated group there are rarely
problems between Christians and Muslims (4). They also live mixed in well-to-do quarters as
Maadi in Cairo. Three quarters of the population is poor or even lives below subsistence level.
The social problems present in villages or slums sometimes develop into religious strife. You
also see this with so-called religious riots. Christians are in fact angry because Muslims placed
their street stands right in front of their shops. The context is social-cultural, not always
religious.” Some of the bishops, priests, imāms and Muslim Brotherhood exploit the social
powder barrel for their own interests. The Muslim Brotherhood has occupied 88 of the 454 seats
in the Egyptian parliament since the elections of December , which is dominated by the
party of President Mubarak. But the influence of this Islamic society is much bigger.
Hulsman: “They build a clinic besides a mosque, provide advice, help the needy.” The Coptic
Christians (mostly Orthodox, some eight percent of the population, besides some groups of
Catholic and Evangelical Copts) do this as well. “The situation is different from quarter to
quarter, depending on the acts of a local pastor.”(5)
The word ‘rarely’ is not accurate. The quarter Muharam Bey in (5)
And local shaykh
Alexandria is middle class, not poor. It would be better to say that
problems are often related to social class, appearing more
frequently in lower social classes than higher social classes
186. “International Religious Freedom Report 2006 (Original in English, not edited by
AWR), Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor in Arab West Report, Week 12, Art
69, September 15, 2006. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2007/week-12/69-
“The country has an area of 370,308 square miles, and its population, as of June 2006, was
approximately 73.7 million, of whom almost 90 percent were estimated to be Sunni Muslims.
Shi’a Muslims constituted less than 1 percent of the population. Estimates of the percentage of
Christians in the population ranged from 8 percent to 15 percent, or between 6 to 11 million, the
majority of whom belonged to the Coptic Orthodox Church.
Other Christian communities included the Armenian Apostolic, Catholic (Armenian, Chaldean,
Greek, Melkite, Roman, and Syrian Catholic), Maronite, and Orthodox (Greek and Syrian)
churches. An evangelical Protestant church, established in the middle of the nineteenth century,
included sixteen Protestant denominations. There also were followers of the Seventh-day
Adventist Church, which was granted legal status in the 1960s. There were small numbers of
Mormons and members of Jehovah’s Witnesses, but the Government does not recognize either
group. The non-Muslim, non-Coptic Orthodox communities ranged in size from several
thousand to hundreds of thousands. The number of Baha’is was estimated at between 500 and 2
thousand persons. The Jewish community numbered fewer than 200 persons.
Christians were dispersed throughout the country, although the percentage of Christians tended
to be higher in Upper Egypt (the southern part of the country) and some sections of Cairo and
187. John Nasif, “Coptic monastic orders in the present time,” Watani International in Arab
West Report, Week 39, Art 53, September 24, 2006. URL:
“The author emphasizes the importance of monastic life for the Coptic Orthodox Church. It
describes its history and gives suggestions for boosting monastic life.
This period was followed, however, by a time of oppression, ignorance and destruction, which
rendered monastic life and the Coptic church very weak. When Pope Shenouda III’s tenure
started there were hardly fifteen active monasteries left. Thanks to a lot of support, courage and
special devotion from the pope, many monasteries have been built and rebuilt in the past 35
years, which has brought its number up to around 200 or one monk for every 4000 to 5000
Copts. This is a huge improvement but doesn’t satisfy the author. He calls for further
invigoration of monastic life by building more monasteries and by using better the capacities of
188. ‘Ala’ al-Jamal, “Copts abduct a Christian young man after he embraced Islam. Security
forces impose curfew on Assuit’s village of Bahij,” a t a -Ummah in Arab West Report,
Week 41, Art 61, October 9, 2006. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2006/week-
“According to al-Jamal, Bahīj village, with a population of around 25,000 people, among which
600 are Copts, has no history of sectarian tension. Over the past few years many Coptic families
have converted to Islam and lived in peace with their Christian neighbors.”
189. Marqus ‘Aziz Khalil, “Coptic thinker accuses the pastor of the Hanging Church of
igniting sedition: Judas… between yesterday and today,” Al- aydā in Arab West Report,
Week 42, Art 78, October 11, 2006. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2006/week-
In this article, Father Khalīl, the pastor of the Hanging Church, examines and responds to
"He also accused me of claiming that 95% of Egyptian Copts do not have enough churches to
pray in. As a matter of fact, I said that the number of worshippers does not exceed 5% of the total
Christian population in Egypt and the number of churches does not meet our needs. It is a simple
calculation. What is the number of Copts and what is the number of churches in Egypt? Pope
Shenouda said in the popular TV program, ‘al-‘Āshirah Masā’an’ [Reviewer: 10 p.m.], that there
are nearly 1000 churches in Egypt. The average capacity of each church is 250-300
worshippers… Egyptian churches can accordingly hold 250,000 to 300,000 worshippers… Let’s
say that the population of Egyptian Copts is 1,000,000, that means that churches can only
accommodate one fourth of Egyptian Copts. But even at a conservative estimate of 10 to 15
million Copts (Editor: a highly exaggerated number), one can evaluate that churches in Egypt
can hold less than 5% of the Coptic population," Father Khalīl elaborates.
190. Ayaan Hirsi ‘Ali, “Europe’s immigration quagmire,” Watani International in Arab-West
Report, Week 44, Art 39, October 29, 2006. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
Even after the recent amnesty, Spain has an estimated 1 million illegal immigrants. Britain has
roughly half a million. France, 200,000 to 400,000, if you trust the French. I think there are
more. Germany has about 1 million. Fearing that the debate on pluralism in Europe will be
hijacked by two uncompromising extremes: whites’ power fascism and Islamic fascism.
In a best-case scenario, the EU will implement an assimilation program guided by the lessons
learned from our failed attempts at multiculturalism. It will acknowledge that the basic tenets of
Islam are a major obstacle to integration. In practice, Muslims will continue to enjoy religious
freedom, as long as exercising that precious right does not infringe upon the freedoms of others,
including daughters and wives. In a best-case scenario, EU policymakers will invest in girls and
women, protect them from violence and punish those who try to limit their freedoms. Those
policymakers will reform the welfare state; regulations pertaining to the hiring and firing of
employees will be made more flexible, making it easier for migrants to enter the labor market.
CH: It is interesting that a Coptic publication published this article. Coptic activists in the West
often argue against immigration of Muslims to Western countries because basic tenets of Islam
are believed to be incompatible with personal freedoms in Western countries.
191. Muhammad Khayr, “The Conference of the Council of the Catholic Patriarchs of
the East: the mass migration of Copts because of the state,” Al-Dustūr in Arab-West
Report, Week 45, Art 54, November 1, 2006. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
The 16th conference of the Council of the Catholic Patriarchs of the East, held in Lebanon,
discussed the rapid migration of Christians from the Arab World. It referred to the practices of
the state in Egypt toward Copts as being the main reason behind Coptic emigration. Journalist
Jean ‘Azīz, from the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbār, reported that Egypt eliminates Copts from
high positions; such as taking ministers, faculty deans, ambassadors, and judges. It also imposes
restrictions on building, repairing or expanding churches. Egypt witnesses one of the largest rates
of Christian migration in the Arab World.
Coptic researcher Sāmih Fawzī states: “The problem is not the number of Christians, but how the
government is handling the issue because Copts are still Egyptian citizens. ‘There are several
inconsistent theories about the count of Copts, the church says they are 15%, others say 9%,
while some officials say that Copt represent 10% of the population.’” Father Rafīq Griesh states
that the number of Catholic Christians in Egypt is 300,000. Ikrām Lam‘ī, a professor of
Evangelical theology, believes that Copts exaggerate when estimating their number.
192. Mahmud Mitwalli, “‘I reject any Coptic political party,’ says Michael Meunier,”
Ākhir Sā‘ah in Arab West Report, Week 46, Art 36, November 8, 2006. URL:
“[…] the head of the U.S. Copts Association, Michael Meunier, urges Copts to participate more
effectively in political activities with other Muslims as a solution to their problems.
He refers to the problems of Copts in Egypt as being their complete absence of apolitical role in
Meunier admits to the development that has happened with the status of Copts in recent years.
However, he asserts the lack of citizenship and human rights that hurt all Egyptians, especially
Copts. He also praises the suggestion of a law that unifies the regulations on the building and
restoration of houses of worship, both mosques and churches. He stresses that the law should
prevent any security interventions in building churches, which eliminates the Copts’ freedom of
belief, adding: "Some fear that Copts plan to build 100 thousand churches once restrictions are
removed, which is illogical.”
193. Cornelis Hulsman, “Interview with Kamal Zakhir Musá about his conviction in the need
for church reform,” Arab-West Report, Week 46, Art 48, November 8, 2006. URL:
“Q – How many Bishoprics are there in Egypt?
KZM – Between 70 to 80.
Q – So multiplied by 12, you have roughly 1000 electors.
KZM – Add to this former and current ministers and businessmen from Cairo. The total number
of electors perhaps reaches 2000; representing 8 to 10 million Orthodox Copts [Editor: The
number of Copts given is, as usual, too high]. So this is a sample, not a real representation of the
Q – Is this not more an issue of culture then related to core religious teachings? Over 90% of the
population of Egypt is Muslim. Father Matta al-Maskeen once said that if Egypt would have
been a country of 90% Christians and 10% Muslims, Egyptian culture would be more or less
similar with the majority of Christians behaving the same way as the majority of Muslims does
today and vice versa.
KZM – If Christians would have been able to show Jesus Christ in the correct light, most
Muslims would not be against us. They could have remained moderate Muslims comparable to
the leaders of the Wafd Party before July of 1952.”
194. Ashley Maqqar, “Others among us: Understanding migration,” Watani International in
Arab-West Report, Week 46, Art 10, November 12, 2006. URL:
Coptic-Ghanan journalist Samia Nkrumah wrote a price winning article on the integration of
immigrants in Italian society, published in Al-Ahram Weekly last year.
195. William Dalrymple, “Disappearing Christianity in the Middle East; Transcript of a
lecture at the American University in Cairo,” Arab-West Report, Week 48, Art 2, November
17, 2006. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2006/week-48/2-disappearing-
Christianity in the Middle East is continuously declining, but no figures for countries today are
196. William Dalrymple, “From the Holy Mountain: A Journey in the shadow of Byzantium,”
Arab-West Report, Week 47, Art 3, November 19, 2006. URL:
The general tendency in the Middle East is one of ongoing decline for Christians.
Egypt is better than it was in many ways now that there is no longer the insurgency with
the Gama'at al-Islamiya, but there is still a certain unease about the rise of the Muslim
Brothers and their call for an Islamic state. There is also increased polarization, mutual
suspicion. Some things are getting better but it is still far from a stable situation.
Nonetheless, I think the Christian population in Egypt has probably the longest long-term
future of any of these.
Stories about persecution of Christians are counterproductive, creating fear and thus
counterproductive. “the most interesting example I have come across is a Christian organization
in England, 'The Barnabus Trust,' which uses very lurid accounts of Christian persecution and
blames this persecution on Islam. There is never any nuance in it.”
197. Majdi Khalil, “About the Coptic girls,” a a al-Dawlī in Arab West Report, Week 47,
Art 31, November 19, 2006. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2006/week-47/31-
about-coptic-girls. (The International Report on Religious Freedom 2005: Issued by the
Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, translated by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo)
“Majdī Khalīl discusses the forced disappearance of Coptic girls.
[…], the Egyptian police interfered only when the crimes were already committed, without
exerting any effort to arrest the murderers or trial them. This provoked some political analysts to
believe that there was an agreement between policemen and the fundamental groups concerning
planning and executing such attacks.4
The same scenario of policemen were repeated in the majority of the cases since al-Khānkah in
1972, until Alexandria in 2006, passing by more than 120 violent attacks against Copts where the
police needed to interfere, according to the Ibn Khaldūn Center.5 In some attacks a direct police
provocation was suspected.
Another report by the U.S. Department of State in 2005 about the freedom of religion mentions
that the Egyptian Ministry of Interior stood against Copts to defend the Islamization of Coptic
girls. It stated that in 2005 there were 49 cases of Christians who were obliged to embrace Islam
and wanted to return to their original religion, and that only eight could do so. The Ministry of
Interior appealed two of the sentences.”
4- Nabīl ‘Abd al-Malik, Majallat al-Aqbāt, January 2, 1992. 5- Minorities and Women in the Arab world, Ibn Khaldūn Center,
series of Khaldūnian dialogues, January, 2006.
198. “Copts without churches!” Al-Fajr in Arab West Report, Week 47, Art 38, November 20,
2006. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2006/week-47/38-copts-without-churches.
“The author quoted a Coptic clergyman (Reviewer: The author is referring to Father Marqus
‘Azīz Khalīl. See AWR 2006, 42, art.78) as having claimed that 95% of Egyptian Copts do not
have enough churches to pray in. The author noted that no reliable statistics on the number of
churches and Copts in Egypt exist. "Some people say that the population of Egyptian Copts is 15
million. Others say it is eight million…The same with churches; while some say that there are
5000 churches in Egypt, others claim that the number does not exceed 3000," the author wrote.”
199. Khalid Ramadan, “Most of those who convert to Islam are young women,” Al-Dustūr in
Arab West Report, Week 48, Art 4, November 22, 2006. URL:
“Dr. Hamdī Zaqzūq, minister of endowments, asserted through the Islamic Thought Conference
that the Azhar receives almost 1000 people annually who want to convert to Islām. However, the
official Azhar statistical reports say otherwise. They mention that the Azhar receives over 100
people annually who want to become Muslims, and that this number has gradually been
increasing over the past few years.
The reason behind not announcing the figures of those who convert to Islām is attributed to the
State’s fear of raising sectarian riots.”
200. Nabil ‘Abd al-Malik, “The Egyptian constitution and the rights of Copts and Women
(2),” a a in Arab West Report, Week 48, Art 64, November 26, 2006. URL:
[…] Nabīl ‘Abd al-Malik emphasizes the necessity of establishing a new and precise
constitution rather than patching up the current one. Thus, he suggests a number of
general principals that the modification has to contain. It very important to end the
political neglect toward Copts and women by specifying quotas in parliament and other
legislation councils, and resisting all forms of discrimination against women and
minorities. In order to ensure political participation of minorities, 15% of the
parliamentary and public councils’ seats are provided to Copts through fair public voting.
201. Muhammad al-Baz, “Mines in Copts’ private life,” Al-Fajr in Arab West Report, Week
48, Art 49, November 27, 2006. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2006/week-
“The author argues that divorce issues pose serious problems in many Copts’ private life and are
causing a severe conflict between the state and the Coptic Orthodox Church.
Estimates amount the number of Copts who were divorced by court rulings and want marriage
permission to 100,000 people. The church for its parts refuses these court rulings because it
prohibits divorce other than in cases of adultery. Therefore, many Copts resorted to converting to
another religion or to ‘urfī marriage away from the church’s administrative complications.
Others stand outside al-‘Abbāsīyah Cathedral every day, waiting for Bishop Būlā to grant them a
divorce that seems they will never be granted.”
202. Katia Saqqa, “Copts’ political role in Egypt,” Arab West Report, Week 50, Art 55,
December 10, 2006. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2006/week-50/55-copts-
“Copts’ participation in political life in Egypt. Participants of different perspectives expressed
their viewpoints about the matter, and proposed practical steps to stimulate Copts’ participation
in political life. The Muslim Brotherhood was also represented. The press review also includes
charts representing the average Coptic membership in Egyptian Parliament.”
“[…] nationalism was weakened in favor of religious identity. Following this, Copts were
excluded from election lists because of their inability to win. With regard to this, Marqus
referred to the stance of the ruling National Party, which nominated only two Copts out of 444
nominees in the 2005 legislative elections.”
“Copts will participate in public and political life and this suggests that Muslim Brotherhood
answer the points of Coptic panic openly since they occupy 88 seats in parliament.”
“In Rose al-Yūsuf of December 12, Ayman ‘Abd al-Majīd called for announcing the expected
amendments, granting privileges for Copts, and in particular reserving them seven to ten percent
of the seats in parliament (Editor: a fixed percentage amounts to nothing but Lebanonization,
reserving fixed percentages and fixed functions for particular religious groups in society).”
The article further provides a list over Muslim and Coptic representation in Parliament.
203. Muhammad Hakim, “Egypt 2006: Jihadists on the alert and angry Copts,” Al-Dustūr in
Arab West Report, Week 51, Art 33, December 13, 2006. URL:
“Egyptian law also protects from bias and from discrimination against women and Copts. The
number of women members of parliament has not exceeded 1.2 percent throughout the history of
women’s representation, while the representation of Copts has decreased from the 6.1 percent
before the 1952 revolution to 0.5 percent currently.”
204. ‘Atif ‘Abd al-Ghani, “Christians are not a minority and I reject the idea of assigning
certain seats for them in the parliament, ‘Abd al-Nur says,” October (Magazine) in Arab
West Report, Week 52, Art 25, December 24, 2006. URL:
“‘Atif ‘Abd al-Ghanī interviews Christian Wafd politician Munīr Fakhrī ‘Abd al-Nūr:
Q. What do think of the idea of appointing Christians in the parliament?
A. The call is not for "appointing." It is a call to keep a fixed 10% of the seats of parliament for
Christian candidates for positive distinction purposes.
Q. How? Explain what you mean by "positive distinction."
A. There are many mechanisms followed in order to ensure positive distinction in many
countries, whether this distinction is to ensure a true representation of women or minorities. This
is done through excluding some electoral regions for these minorities and pre-assigning a certain
number of seats in the parliament to be taken by representatives of these minorities.
Q. Do not you think that in doing this we are pushing ourselves to consider Christians in Egypt a
A. I said that this system is followed in many countries. However, I reject applying this idea in
Egypt because I do not consider Christians a minority.”
205. Amira El-Ahl; Daniel Steinvorth, Volkhard Windfuhr, Bernhard Zand, “Schafe unter
Wölfen,” Der Spiegel, December 30, 2006. URL: http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/print/d-
Less than ten percent of the populations of Egypt and Syria are Christian. In all Middle Eastern
countries is the proportion of Christians declining. Discrimination of Christians is a major cause.
206. Melanie Erlebach, “Media Critique: Der Spiegel, issue 1/2007, article: ‘Schafe unter
Woelfen’,“ Arab-West Report, Week 53, Art 4, December 31, 2006. URL:
Der Spiegel writes that the number of Christians in Egypt is estimated to be ‘less than 10
percent of population.’ Western researchers have examined these statistics and concluded
Christians in Egypt represent today approximately 6%of the population, which means
that there are four to five million Christians in Egypt. Christians tend to overestimate
their own numbers and this is distorting the picture further. Inflating estimates of the
numbers of Christians increases the feelings of being underrepresented.
Der Spiegel primarily blames violence against Christians as prime reason for Christian migration
but Erlebach argues this is too simplistic. “The main reasons for this decline are the often poor
economic situation in many countries of the Middle East, combined with a general lack of
political and social freedom and tensions or conflicts.”
207. Naji Bihman, “Analyzing the alleged forced conversion to Islam of Heidi Hakim
Manqarius Salib in: The Theban Legion,” Arab-West Report, Week 53, Art 9, December 31,
2006. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/9-analyzing-alleged-forced-conversion-islam-
“Between 1995 and 1997 two staff members of Arab-West Report investigated over 100 cases of
Christians who converted to Islam (mostly teenage girls). More cases were investigated in later
years. This work was carried out with help of priests and pastors of these girls and some foreign
correspondents in Egypt, including the BBC. None of the cases investigated included any
physical kidnap, as is usually claimed by the families of the persons who converted, some Coptic
organizations and some human rights activists.”
208. Rowan Williams, “Forgetting the plight of Arab Christians,” Watani International in
Arab-West Report, Week 53, Art 43, December 31, 2006. URL:
The Episcopal Archbishop writes about the tragedy of Christian emigration from the Middle
East. “One warning often made and systematically ignored in the hectic days before the Iraq War
was that Western military action — at that time and in that way — would put Christians in the
whole Middle East at risk. They would be seen as supporters of the crusading West. “Western
nations had no strategy to handle this.
“Christians can genuinely be part of the solution.”
“Of course Christian communities don’t have a blameless history in the region.” But they are
historically important. We should encourage local Christians to remain.
209. Robier al-Faris, “Copts in the Egyptian press,” Watani International in Arab West
Report, Week 2, Art 34, January 14, 2007. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“The author wonders about the increasing coverage of Coptic affairs in Egyptian press, and
points to a number of specific periodicals that have increased their focus on such issues.”
The article comments on various articles on Coptic issues.
210. Muhammad Muru, “The future of the Coptic Orthodox Church after Pope Shenouda,” A -
A rār in Arab West Report, Week 3, Art 33, January 21, 2007. URL:
The article highlights the important role Pope Shenoda played for the church and the Coptic
community, as well as how hard it will be to replace him:
Mu ammad Mūrá expects a big convulsion in the Coptic Orthodox Church after the
death of Pope Shenouda. He argued that it will be very difficult for any clergyman to be
the successor of such a strong personality who can impose its authority on everyone.
Mūrá mentions that Coptic Christians make up six percent of the Egyptian population; 90
percent of them are orthodox. There are 1983 official (registered) churches in Egypt, in
addition to 717 churches currently seeking permission.
211. Usamah Salamah, “Egypt torn apart by extremist Muslim Brotherhood members and
Copts,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab-West Report, Week 4, Art 31, January 27, 2007. URL:
“[…] Bishop Marqus, bishop of Shubrā al-Khaymah and spokesman of the Coptic Orthodox
Church, as telling the press that ‘The Copts whose number in Egypt are estimated at 15 to 18
million, are the natives of this country and its possessors.’” Muslim Brothers and Copts “are
competing to set Egypt ablaze,” the author states.
212. John H. Watson, “The Coptophile Column,” Watani International in Arab-West Report,
Week 4, Art 44, January 28, 2007. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2007/week-
“For decades, Western scholars have focused upon Christian Egypt, and for even more decades
they have failed to discover precise statistics.”
“Focus goes on to say that approximately eighty – three per cent of the population are Muslims
while the majority of the remaining seventeen per cent are Christian Orthodox who belong to the
Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt.”
213. ‘Adil Fakhri, “Christian population in Egypt throughout history,” a a in Arab-West
Report, Week 4, Art 59, January 28, 2007. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
Before mentioning the numbers of population during the Middle and Modern Ages in Egypt,
some significant incidents that took place in Egypt should be mentioned. In 817-818 AD, most of
the monasteries at al-Natrūn Valley, as well as the monastery of Bishop Armiyā in Saqqārah in
750 AD, were looted and destroyed until they were reconstructed in 866 AD. This is in addition
to the political circumstances such as the demolition of churches that affected life in Egypt. For
example, in 1300 AD, churches in Egypt were either closed or demolished. Such incidents
affected the number of Christians living in Egypt at that time.
In 1335 AD, Jacques Feron estimated the number of Christians in Egypt to be 30,000. In 1530
AD, after 14 years of the Ottoman rule, Christians reached the number of 50 thousands and in
1668, they reached almost 100 thousand. The memorial book at the French Chamber of
Commerce in Marseille in 1670 mentioned that the number of Christians in Egypt has reached
150 thousand. In 1700 AD, the traveler, Benoit De Maillet mentioned that, according to the
patriarch of the Copts, the number of Copts who paid the jizyah has duplicated as they were
almost 15 thousand in 1673.
During the French expedition in Egypt in 1798, the Egyptian population was estimated at 2.5
million, which included 220,000 Christians. On the other hand, the English Lady Butcher wrote
in the church history book that the number of Christians in 1855 reached 217,000. [see:
CH (May 2012): This link refers to:
Edith Louisa Butcher - Things Seen in Egypt. London, 1910
Edith Louisa Butcher - Egypt as we knew it. London, 1911
Lady Butler, Elizabeth Southerden Thompson - Letters from the Holy Land. London, 1903
Lady Butler, Elizabeth Southerden Thompson - From Sketch-Book and Diary by.... London,
C G - A Fortnight's Tour Amongst the Arabs of Mount Lebanon, including a Visit to Damascus,
Ba'albeck, the Cedars Natural Bridge, etc. 1876
Vahan Cardashian - Actual Life in the Turkish Harem. New York, 2nd edition, 1911
It is unclear from this link if the author referred to Edith Louisa Butcher or to Lady Butler.
214. Daniel Steinvorth and Volkhard Windfuhr, “A Christian exodus from the Arab world,”
Watani International in Arab-West Report¸ Week 5, Art 5, February 4, 2007. URL:
“There are no reliable figures on the size of Christian minorities in the Middle East. This is partly
attributable to an absence of statistics, and partly to the politically charged nature of producing
such statistics in the first place.” And “In Egypt the number of Christians fluctuates between five
and 12 million, depending on who is counting.” “Egypt’s Coptic Christians, numbering at least 5
million, are by far the Middle East’s largest Christian minority.” About 1,000 Copts convert to
Islam each year.
215. Elhamy Khalil, “Youssef Sidhom Speaks about Egyptian Issues and Coptic Concerns,”
Watani International in Arab-West Report, Week 6, Art 25, February 11, 2007. URL:
Mr Sidhom addressed the issue of the marginalization of the Copts in Egypt especially in the last
thirty years. Though the Copts make about 15 per cent of the 75 million inhabitants of Egypt,
there are very few Copts in chief executive positions in the civil service and fewer in the high
ranks of the military. This inequality is also happening in political and educational institutions as
There are very few electoral districts in Egypt where the Copts are a majority. Hence there are
very few Coptic legislators or city councilmen in government. This led to withdrawal of the
Copts from many areas of public life and the political process as well.
Many Muslims are also disinterested in political affairs as shown by the participation of only 20
per cent of the population in the last elections. Mr Sidhom called the other 80 per cent a silent
majority with overrepresentation of the Copts in this group.
Dr. Elhamy Khalil is a retired Pediatrician and Medical Director who came to the USA in 1959
and is a frequent contributor to Watani International. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Unlike previous years, when the first statistics following the 2006 census were published no
information was included about the number of Christians in Egypt. This fact and the statement
of the Minister of Labor and Immigration in 2007, claiming 10 percent of Christians, triggered
discussions in various media.
216. Robeir al-Faris, “Pope Gregorious III Lahham says ‘No’ to isolation, ‘No’ to fear,”
Watani International in Arab-West Report, Week 6, Art 46, February 11, 2007. URL:
I say ‘no’ to emigration; ‘no’ to shirking off responsibilities; ‘no’ to withdrawal from the
national, patriotic, political, or social circles; ‘no’ to isolation; ‘no’ to moral or physical
alienation; ‘no’ to marginalisation or inferiority, and ‘no’ to desperation. I tell Arab
Christians not to give in to fear, frustration, nor dread of fundamentalist or fanatic
movements. Emigration of Christians would mean a loss of plurality and diversity in the
Arab World, as well as the obliteration of Christian-Muslim dialogue. Such is not merely
a religious dialogue, but is in the first place a cultural, humanitarian dialogue that is
carried through daily life interaction of bodies and souls.
217. Hani Daniel, “Those figures and what they mean,” Watani International in Arab West
Report, Week 8, Art 89, February 25, 2007. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“For the first time officials have placed a figure on the number of disappearing Coptic women.
The figure was cited in the third annual report of the Citizenship Committee of the National
Council for Human Rights (NCHR), and declared that the NCHR received 32 complaints of
missing young Coptic women during the nine-month period from March to December 2006. It
must be noted that these are only the cases which were put before the NCHR, and that countless
cases go unreported.
Complaints presented to the Citizenship Committee were not restricted to Copts. Fourteen
complaints came from members of the Bahā’ī faith; and one was signed by 51 complainants who
demanded the right to have their religion cited on official papers. Last year, Bahā’īs’ were denied
this right through a court ruling based on a Constitutional article that recognizes only three
religions: Islam, Christianity and Judaism. The total number of complaints related to religion was
57, but the authorities to whom these complaints were referred replied to only 36.
During the ten month period covered by the report, the NCHR received 5.826 complaints, 2,247
of which were concerned with economic and social rights, 1,762 were related with civil and
political rights, 415 related to unfair trials, and 115 came from Egyptian expatriates asking the
government to protect their rights abroad. Cairenes topped the number of complainants with 888.
Giza residents followed, while Luxor was the least with only 98 complaints. The Interior
Ministry responded to 58.4 per cent of the complaints leveled against it, the Justice ministry to
74.4 per cent, and the Education Ministry to a mere 34.8 per cent. The ministries of Media, Trade
and industry, Communication and information technology ignored all complaints and no
explanation was given on their part.
The report called for the removal of all the impediments against the participation of Copts and
women in politics, and for the encouragement of young men and women to play a part in
decision making, in a move moving towards political reformation.”
218. Iman Anwar, “Muhammad Kamal and Coptic youths,” Al-Akhbār in Arab West
Report, Week 9, Art 41, March 3, 2007. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
Kamāl said that he would not support having an article in the Constitution that stipulates
an allocation of seats, because he is against all discrimination in favor of women, Copts,
or youth. He also said that nobody wants Egypt to become like Lebanon, a state
entangled in sectarian strife and war due to its sectarian-based political system. Kamāl
indicated his dissatisfaction with parties that do not nominate enough Copts to run in
elections. However, he believes that if Copts increased their participation in the political
system they would receive more nominations from political parties.
219. Najib Jibrā’īl, “Why do Copts abandon their religion?” Al-Fajr in Arab West Report,
Week 11, Art 57, March 19, 2007. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2007/week-
“The author argues that the spiritual and doctrinal belonging of Copts in Egypt appears to be
collapsing. People are distancing themselves from the church.
Jibrā’īl mentions different examples of the symptoms of collapse in the Coptic Orthodox Church.
More than 200 cases of conversion were registered in the church in under two years. On the other
hand, 300 cases were registered of people who had converted and wanted to return to the
220. Christian Fastenrath, “Interview with Tarek Heggy at CIDT ,” Arab-West Report,
Week 21, Art 2, March 21, 2007. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2007/week-
Tarek Heggy: “Somebody once asked me whether “it was correct that 300,000 Coptic girls are
raped a year?” It is not 300,000, 30,000, 3,000, or even 300, and I very much doubt it would be
30. Then I discovered that people falsified certificates claiming that they had been raped in order
to obtain asylum. The person who would falsify the papers was a Muslim, but it was his
I am originally a lawyer, and it is my opinion that Egypt has discrimination but not persecution.
They insist that persecution exists, but we do not have numbers and we do not have statistics,
even when we go to the Dutch embassy to look at the reports. Yes, while there are clear cases of
discrimination, discrimination and persecution are not the same, neither legally nor in degree.
Persecution is a systematic plan for acting negatively. When it is not codified, left to the culture
and people’s reactions, is becomes discrimination.
Stories that show that human rights claims of Copts need to be investigated.
221. Majdi Sam‘a and Huda Rashwa, “Copts count raises issues,” Arab-West Report, Week
14, Art 40, April 6, 2007. URL:http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2007/week-14/40-copts-
The questionnaire for the 2006 census included religion but in publishing the 2006 census results
the number of Copts and Muslims was not mentioned.
222. Muhammad Shamrūkh, “Five thousand Christians convert to Islam,” Al-Dustūr in Arab-
West Report, Week 14, Art 9, April 7, 2007.
The number of Christians who convert to Islam has reached almost 5000 a year. Security
officials said that most Christian families have at least one person who left his/her family and
converts to Islam. (Reviewer: No substantial evidence for this claim can be found.)
The percentage of Christians who convert to Islam is relatively high among middle and lower
classes in Cairo, Alexandria, Minyā, and Fayūm. Love relationships are considered to be the
main reason behind this increase as, for example, a Muslim man falls in love with a Christian girl
who in return converts to Islam in order to marry him. No matter what the reasons are, according
to the security bodies in Egypt, the issue of Christians converting to Islam does not appear to be
related to belief and faith.
The problems behind the Islamizing process among Christians have increased to the extent that
security bodies have given up on the procedures previously used to confront similar problems.
These procedures usually began with a Christian filing a report with the police department and
announcing that he has converted to Islam. At that point, police officers would contact the
church which, in return, would send a priest in order to meet with that person. Such meetings
usually ended with the person insisting on becoming a Muslim. Nowadays, Egyptian security
faces accusations from both the Muslim and Christian community. The church accuses it of
being discriminatory against Christians and supporting Islam, the country’s official religion. On
the other hand, Muslims accuse it of being afraid of the church and the U.S. government which
supports Christians in Egypt.
223. Hānī al-cAsar, "Christians who convert to Islam have economic or social problems,"
Christian researchers and lawmen say,” Al-Dustūr in Arab-West Report, Week 14, Art 10,
April 7, 2007. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2007/week-14/10-christians-who-
Father ‘Abd al-Massīh Basīt believes that the number of 5000 converts to Islam is an
exaggerated number. "The number of Orthodox churches in Egypt is almost 3000. This means
that two people from each church convert to Islam; a very exaggerated number."
“Almost 90% of this number converts to Islam for financial reasons, while the rest converts to
Islam because of either love relationships or because they want to get a divorce."
Mamdūh Nakhlah, president of al-Kalimah Center for Human Rights said that, according to the
number of cases he encounters at the center every day, the estimated number of 5000 could be
true. Also Jamāl As‘ad, former Member of Parliament, stated that it is an accurate estimate of
224. cAntar cAbd al-La īf and Shīrīn Rabīc, “Rumors spread about the Coptic Orthodox
Church’s intention to conduct a census,” a t a -Ummah, in Arab-West Report, Week 18,
Art 22, April 21, 2007. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2007/week-18/22-rumors-
The authors highlight the Egyptian government’s secrecy in announcing the real numbers of
Copts. Rumors spread about the church’s intention to conduct a census to record the number of
Copts in Egypt. Coptic families in Shubrā and Misr al-Jadīdah said some individuals, allegedly
from the church, passed by Coptic houses and distributed applications to conduct a census,
arguing that Copts lack confidence in the declared results of the government statistics.
a t al-Ummah published a photocopy of the application signed by Father Antonius in Shubrā.
Najīb Jibrā’īl said the aim of the census was to accurately count the number of Copts in every
diocese for goals related the church’s administration.
Regarding the numbers of Copts in Egypt, the official declared number is 7.8 million. Jibrā’īl
said the number has not officially been proven, especially considering that the statistics from ten
year ago reveal a number of 10 million Copts.
Many of the Coptic clergymen denied the news. Father ‘Abd al-Masīh Basīt denied the church’s
intention to prepare the statistics, arguing that sometimes individual clergymen can prepare
statistics to direct the affairs of their diocese.
Father Marqus Azīz asserted that there are more than 7.8 million Copts, describing the number as
very unfair and unjust. He added that the church avoided preparing statistics separate from the
government to avoid any conflicts with the latter.
225. Hibah Bayyumi, “Abu Bakr: The number of Copts is imprecise because the cell of
religion is optional,” Ākhir Sā‘ah in Arab-West Report, Week 17, Art 14, April 25,2007.
“While declaring the results of the 2007’s census, the head of the Central Agency for Public
Mobilization and Statistics says that the number of Copts in Egypt is inaccurate because the cell
of religion on the application form is optional.” Egypt’s population has increased with 24.37% in
the past ten years and is now 76 million. CAPMAS uses the optionally filled in information
because it forms the basis of issuing a building license for a church.
226. Yusuf Sidhum, “Toward legislations that activate the constitutional amendments,” Al-
Dustūr in Arab-West Report, Week 17, Art 41, April 29, 2007. URL:
Representatives of all political trends spoke about citizenship. They stressed the necessity of
publishing the results of the last census and the right of every Egyptian citizen to know the
ethnical and religious composition of Egyptians. They also spoke about the need for a unified
law for building mosques and churches to eliminate one of the most important manifestation of
inequality between Egyptians.
227. Yusuf Sidhum, “Amendments translate into law,” Watani International in Arab-West
Report, Week 17, Art 42, April 29, 2007. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
Political parties, MPs and civil society organizations in Egypt are investigating how the
constitutional amendments approved last March should translate into laws. The public should
assume a major role in this process if the amendments are to result in legislation enhancing
citizenship concepts and political freedoms, securing fair representation and valuing people’s
dignity. And thus Watani organized a Watani Forum (in other texts also called Watani Salon).
Yusuf Sidhum reports from this forum:
The citizenship concept topped the agenda. “Citizenship” was moved to article 1 of the
Constitution. Before, it was only in article 40 which maintained that “Citizens are equal before
the law. They have equal public rights and duties without discrimination due to sex, ethnic
origin, language, religion or creed.”
Many demanded a transparent announcement of the ethnic and religious composition of the
population according to the last, recent census. A unified law for places of worship should be
issued as well, to eliminate a major legislative inequality among Egyptians.
Article 62 now stipulates that “It is possible for the electoral law to stipulate a system combining
individual parliamentary representation and party slate system.
Assigning quotas for less privileged segments, including women, Copts, and young people, on
party electoral lists was strongly advocated.
It is strongly hoped the above would be a step forward in the course of political reform in Egypt.
228. Majdi Khalil, “The citizenship rights of Copts between the ruling regime’s conduct and
Islamists ideology,” a a al-Dawlī in Arab-West Report, Week 18, Art 28, May 6, 2007.
“The ruling regime seeks to turn Copts into a community similar to Greek and Armenian
communities that practice economic and occupational activities are gradually isolated from the
mainstream of society, and if they feel the burden of discrimination and persecution they migrate
abroad.” Copts should “have the determination to achieve all their citizenship rights.”
229. cAmr Bayyūmī, ‘Coptic thinker foretells the Christians’ ‘extinction’ in Egypt in the
coming century,” al- isr a -Yawm in Arab-West Report, Week 19, Art 51, May 1, 2007.
Dr. Kamāl Farīd Ishāq, professor of Coptic Language at the Institutions of Coptic Studies, said
the number of Copts is dangerously decreasing in Egypt due to reasons like emigration,
conversion, and birth control. Father Marqus ‘Azīz disagrees with the pessimistic language of
Dr. Kamāl Farīd Ishāq but agrees that the proportion of Copts is declining.
230. Robeir al-Faris, “The figure that brings on a headache,” Watani International in Arab-
West Report, Week 19, Art 38, May 13, 2007. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
This month’s reading of Coptic-related issues in Cairo’s papers begins with the highly
controversial issue—which should not be at all controversial—of the number of the Coptic
population in Egypt. The daily al-Dostour (The Constitution) printed an interview with General
Abu-Bakr al-Guindy, head of the Central Apparatus for Public Mobilisation and Statistics, in
which he talked about the recent census. The paper asked General Guindy on why the number of
Copts went missing from the official census report, to which he replied: “Ask about anything but
this matter which is bound to bring us a headache.” Three guesses anyone why the headache?
The Administrative Court’s recent ruling against allowing Christians who had converted to Islam
then reconverted to Christianity to have their current religion documented on their ID cards was
widely discussed in the papers. The weekly al-Mougaz (The Brief) printed a story, which was
later reported in several other papers, of the father of the 13-year-old twins Mario and Andrew,
who converted to Islam in 2000 then reconverted to Christianity in 2002. In the meantime he
carried two ID cards, one as a Christian and one as a Muslim. He also separated from his wife.
As the second school term began last February, the mother of the twins, who are pupils in an
Alexandria school, discovered that her children were being taught Islamic religion instead of the
Christian religion they were studying during the first term—and for that matter all their lives.
The school insisted this was the father’s religion and consequently the children’s. The case is
currently in court.
Youssef Sidhom writes:
This year all Egyptian should be sure to acquire new, computer - issued ID documents
since the old, manually- issued once are being phased out and will soon be entirely
invalidate. Yet many Copts find the process, which should go smoothly since it depends
primarily on data already registered and authenticated by the Civil Register offices on the
old documents, which are normally submitted upon application for the new documents,
riddled with almost insurmountable difficulties. Data entry errors by Civil Register clerks
occur and, instead of directly correcting them by referring to the original documents, the
clerks send the victims of these errors on arduous tasks to verify their claims.
“Sidhum then provides several examples and asks “Is there not a case of an Egyptian Muslim
who was listed a Christian in ID document issued by the Civil Register? I hope to be acquainted
of such a case – if any – to report on it, at least so as not to be accused of exclusively addressing
231. Sami Jad al-Haqq, Hani Ahmad Rizq, “A scoop…we have an organizational map
containing names and phone numbers prepared by the Church of Shubra al-Khimah to
distribute Christian supervisors of the electoral commissions in order to control Coptic
votes,” a t al-Ummah in Arab West Report, Week 20, Art 32, May 21, 2007. URL:
“Sawt al-Ummah has obtained serious documents which confirm that the Coptic Orthodox
Church is exploiting every election to participate in political life in an organized fashion, which
raises doubts about the church’s real intentions.”
Every Coptic Orthodox diocese draws an organizational map of the area in which it is
located and divides it into main areas. Every main area has an official whose
responsibility is to oversee voters’ agents in sub-committees in which ballot boxes are
located. The author says that he has obtained a map of Shubrā al-Khīmah. In the
footnotes, the phone numbers of the diocese of Shubrā al-Khīmah and its operations room
are written, while Hānī ‘Āyid’s, the areas’ general official, name and phone number are
written in the header. In the map, the constituency is divided into five main areas. Each
area has an official whose name and phone number are also written. These officials are in
charge of listing Copts’ names, directing them to their electoral committees, and
mobilizing them to vote for the candidate endorsed by the Coptic Church or for proposed
laws in referendums.
232. Sulayman Shafiq, “For Egypt not for Copts,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West Report, Week
20, Art 14, May 22, 2007. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2007/week-20/14-
“The events of al-Khānkah in 1972 until the events in al-‘Ayyā in 2007 have marked 35 years
of tension, conflict, and sectarian clashes in Egypt.
The Egyptian press has recorded a total of 202 incidents, an average of six incidents a year.
The author outlines the incidents as follows:
- 78 scuffles occurred between families for reasons that were not sectarian but a result of
(non religion related) tensions. They were, however, turned into sectarian crisis; more
than 80 percent of these events occur in cities.
- 71 incidents resulting from Christians praying in unlicensed places of worship. Hard-liner
Islamic movement’s got involved and clashes over the illegal houses of worship ensued
as occurred in al-‘Ayyāt and al-‘Udaysāt among others; more than 82 percent of these
events occurred in the countryside.
- 53 incidents as a result of relationships between men and women of different religions
resulted in sectarian clashes.
The author said that if these numbers are evaluated, there has been an average of about
six incidents a year between 1987 and 1995. The frequency of clashes increased from
1987 through 1994, the years that witnessed the greatest number of sectarian violence
incidents, which were related to al-Jamā‘ah al-Islāmīyah and al-Jihād Group’s orders.
The author highlighted that the average decreased to three incidents a year between 1995
and 2007. It can also be said that of the clashes in cities, more than 60 percent occurred in
slums and poorer areas, and about 40 percent involved the lower classes.
233. ‘Ala’ Fahmi, “No Copt will assume al-Wafd presidency,” Ākhir Sā‘ah in Arab West
Report, Week 21, Art 49, May 23, 2007. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“The General Secretary of al-Wafd party Munīr Fakhrī ‘Abd al-Nūr, a Copt, said in an
interview that al-Wafd will not participate in elections because of its huge number of
Abd al-Nūr is against allocating parliamentary seats for Copts or constituencies as he believes
that any discrimination between them may lead to disaster. He asserted that he does not aspire
to assume the al-Wafd presidency for he may not have the leadership personality and that the
party will never have a Coptic president. However, al-Wafd does not discriminate between
Muslims and Copts.”
234. Tamir Shukri, “The ILO: Egypt discriminates against Copts,” Arab-West Report, Week
22, Art 30, May 31, 2007. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2007/week-22/30-ilo-
The ILO stated “Copts in Egypt…are denied equal access to education and equal opportunities in
recruitment and promotion. Very few are appointed to key positions in the government or are
candidates for parliament. Enrolment of Copts in police academies and military schools is
restricted, and very few are teachers and professors.” The Egyptian Minister of Labor and
Immigration Mrs. ‘Ā’ishah ‘Abd al-Hādī denied the accusations, hinting that Copts own more
than one-third of the national wealth in Egypt, despite representing only 10% of the population.
“In all its laws and legislations, there is no single text discriminates the Egyptian citizens
according to religion,” said the minister, adding: “The first article of the Constitution highlights
the principle of citizenship as the base between the state and its citizens with no features of
The head of the Word Center for Human Rights Mamdūh Nakhlah stated “no statistics in Egypt
can identify the economic activities according to religious bases,” and that there are no accurate
Coptic thinker Jamāl As‘ad condemns the minister’s statement, which has divided the country
into Muslims and Copts, he said, “in a way that serves the American plans in the Middle East
region.” As for owning one-third of the national wealth, As‘ad regards it as the minister wanting
to tell Copts: “Be satisfied with economics and leave other aspects of life including politics.”
Sāmir Sulaymān, a professor of Political Economics at the American University in Cairo [AUC],
considers the minister’s statements as a provocation of sectarian strife, “Because she simple tells
people that only 10% of the population owns one-third of your income.”
235. Tamir Shukri, “Is the minister’s statement to respond to the ILO’s report or to anger
Copts?” Arab-West Report, Week 23, Art 30, June 6, 2007. URL:
Last month, the International Labor Organization issued a report on discrimination in the Middle
East and North Africa. Foreign Minister Ahmad Abū al-Ghayt, has strongly denied the
allegations and expressed gratitude for the outstanding role played by Copts in society. Abū al-
Ghayt has sent a message to the head of the ILO, saying that the report was based on inaccurate
sources of information.
The Egyptian minister of labor and immigration, ‘Ā’ishah ‘Abd al-Hādī stated “Although they
represent just 10% of the population, they own more than one-third of the national wealth in
Minorities benefiting in education or business in any society is not necessarily an indication that
there is no persecution practiced against minority groups. All reports of local human rights
bodies have featured the fact that there are no equal standards when dealing with Muslims and
Copts in Egypt.
Incidents of attacks against Copts, their properties, churches, and even against their underage
girls by Muslims extremist exemplify what the ILO’s report has mentioned, Abū Khūlah wrote
in a a al-Dawlī, responding to the minister’s statement.
In order to explain her statements, the minister told A - u a ar that she used a widely known
percentage of Copts because there is no official statistic about their number. “The head of the
ILO has unjustly referred to features of persecution practiced against Copts in Egypt. I thereby
was compelled to use expressions that we do not use in dealing with our country-brothers for
responding alone. But not for expressing a belief of discrimination adopted by the Egyptian
government,” the minister said.
236. Cornelis Hulsman, “Heggy: Why I wrote ‘If I were a Copt’,” Arab-West Report, Week
21, Art 5, June 14, 2007. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2007/week-21/5-heggy-
Interview with Dr. Tarek Heggy who states that Copts are not united in their views of the role of
the state towards Christians. Some Copts “were talking about the number of Copts as being
between 5-20 million. The number of Copts in Egypt is a product of the environment. You
cannot have people tell you that it is five, some people say it is 11, some say 18, and ‘Adlī
Abādīr says that he is the leader of 20 million Copts.” Numbers are used for political gain.
Heggy: “I am the one who wrote about the claim that 300,000 Coptic girls are raped every year.
And I said it is just a joke, not 300,000, not 30,000, not 3000, I believe that it is not even 300.
But Christians have used these claims to be granted asylum. It is a business, a Muslim lawyer
was falsifying certificates for girls who claimed they were raped to give them quick access to the
West.” Heggy says the number of Copts is uncertain, “Some say the Copts are two million, and
some claim they are 20 million. The clarification mechanism is not there.”
237. ‘Adil Jindi, “The jurisprudence of enumeration, examination, and elimination,” aa
al-Da in Arab-West Report, Week 24, Art 46, June 17, 2007. URL:
“Abd al-Hādī (Minister of Labor and Immigration) stated that Copts form 10% of the Egyptian
population, and possess one third of the total national wealth.”
“Moreover, Jindī states that the last official declaration about the number of Copts in Egypt was
in 1996. At that time, Copts formed 6% of Egypt’s 63million-people population, which means
that Copts numbered at 3,800,000 people in 1996. According to ‘Abd al-Hādī’s statistics, there
are now 7,600,000 Coptic people. He wonders how the Coptic population can be doubled in a
decade while Egypt’s Muslims increased only with a percentage of 17% during the same
Abd al-Hādī responded to a statement of the ILO which is, however, no longer online. She
refuted the claims of the ILO report about Copts being eliminated from leading posts in
universities and official bodies, affirming that Egypt’s Copts and Muslims are treated equally.
‘Adil Jindī asks what government agency conducted the survey on Coptic wealth in Egypt. He
accuses the statement of being wholly inaccurate and unreliable. As for equal opportunities for
Muslims and Christians Jindī wonders if the minister knows one Copt who occupies the post of a
dean of a faculty or who has even been nominated to be a president of an Egyptian university.
238. Fahmi Huwaydi, “About the myth of persecution and injustice,” Al-Dustūr in Arab-West
Report, Week 24, Art 19, June 18, 2007. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
Former navy officer Engineer Ahmad Hasan Ma’mūn sent a letter to the author in which he
expressed his astonishment at the allegations of persecution and discrimination against Copts.
Ma’mūn said that he spent his entire life in the navy and never experienced any discrimination
against Copts. He believes that those who claim discrimination do not know what is happening in
reality or they are seeking to drive a wedge between Copts and Muslims.
He was astonished when he read that Copts were prevented from assuming high-ranking posts
since the 1952 revolution. His experience in the navy completely counters to these allegations.
During the 1973 war, many Copts were assuming high-ranking posts in the navy such as naval
signal corps commander Sa‘d Farah, submarine commander As‘ad Riyā , chief engineer of
electronics in the submarine corps Nasīm Marqus and many others. Furthermore, ‘Azīz Ghālī
was commander of the Third Army and the current Minister of Environment Mājid George was
the president of the Engineering Authority.
Ma’mūn pointed out that Copts have more opportunities in working at U.S. and European
embassies or in emigrating abroad more than Muslims, which could be considered as a form of
discrimination against Muslims. Furthermore, Copts participation in Egyptian economy amounts
to 30 percent while they form almost six percent of Egypt’s population according to the census,
which was conducted during the British occupation at the beginning of the 19th century.
239. Sameh Fawzy, “Sectarian numbers,” Watani International in Arab-West Report, Week
25, Art 47, June 24, 2007. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2007/week-25/47-
In her recent reply to a World Labour Organisation report which mentioned that Copts in Egypt
are discriminated against in jobs and appointment to high ranking State posts, Labour Minister
Aisha Abdel-Hadi said that Copts constitute 10 per cent of the Egyptian population yet control
30 per cent of the Egyptian economy. Her statements made front news in the national
newspapers. Regardless of the international report itself, it is important to take a stand regarding
the minister’s words. They appear to represent a sectarianism that has sneaked into the heart of
the State institution, where it was adopted and promoted.
First, One of the leading articles of the Constitutional amendments is equal citizenship for all.
This attitude has been understood by some as empathy for the citizenship principle, which rejects
the division of citizens according to their religious identity. Yet the minister’s comments and her
use of ratios clearly show that the principle of equal citizenship has not yet arrived at the
ministry of labour.
Second: the use of figures to arrive at socio-economic facts constitutes a dangerous curve in
human relations. Otherwise, what did the minister mean by her declaration that 10 per cent of the
population of Egypt controlled 30 per cent of the economy of the country? Some might view it as
a kind of tolerance, but others might consider it unintented sectarian provocation.
Third, the government never declared the proportion of Copts in its latest census. Where did the
minister find the statistics on Copts? How did she know that they control 30 per cent of the
economy? If her information is correct, it means there is a body working inside the State that is
contradicting what the State says by analysing economic indicators according to a religious base.
What were the economic indicators the ministry used to divide the Coptic from the Muslim
economy in a country described as a model of coexistence between Muslims and Copts?
What was intended?
Fourth, to give the minister the benefit of doubt, what did she actually wish to say? Did she mean
to demonstrate the absence of discrimination in holding positions in the State? With due respect,
it would be unreasonable to ignore the job discrimination from which Copts suffer, particularly
regarding leading posts in the State. We ask the minister—since she is so eager to analyse the
figures from a religious point—on the number of Copts who are university presidents, college
deans, ambassadors, deputy ministers, security directors and so on, and the number of firms and
establishments that employ no Copts? And again, where did the minister get the figures from? Is
the Labour Ministry basing its answer to an international report on a baseless statistic, but one
that is included in the writings of the propagators of political Islam who use such figures to prove
that Egypt is a paradise for Copts? These are baseless figures and, if included in a book it would
be the author’s own concern, but to be included in an official report issued by a ministry is the
State’s concern, and is a danger to which attention should be drawn.
240. Katia Saqqa, “The Jihad Group’s “revisions;” are they marginalizing or integrating for
cultural communities in Egypt?” A -A rār in Arab West Report, Week 25, Art 73, June 28,
2007. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2007/week-25/73-jih257d-groups-
“A -A rār specifies a file about minorities in Egypt. The file depicts the reality of Copts, Shī‘ah
and Nubians. In the Coptic file there are two main streams that have different approaches from
solving the Coptic problem in Egypt. Al-Ahrār mentioned that despite their being a minority in
number, Copts of Egypt cannot be considered an ethnic minority, neither national nor a cultural
minority in quality sense; for they have been present in Egypt long before Arabs.
‘Adlī Abādīr head of Copts United asserted that the International Committee related to the
International Association for human rights had accepted to agree the cause of Copts’ persecution
in Egypt. In his report to the International Association for Human Rights Abādīr asserted that
Copts comprised about 12 million in Egypt; i.e., 10% of Egyptians, which does not identify with
the official governmental percentage of five percent (Reviewer: The government maintains that
the percentage of Copts in the population is five per cent, while the church states that it is in fact
ten per cent. No accurate figures exist to verify or refute these claims). Dr. Rafīq Habīb asserted
that the main problem in Egypt was fanaticism, adding that the main difference between
Muslims and Christians in this regard is the number. He said the Copts’ fanaticism was the result
of their being deprived from many employment chances and privileges that are given to Muslims
241. Michael ‘Adil and Nash’at Hamdi, “Bishop Bisanti confesses that the church took a
census of the number of Copts in Egypt… and CAPMAS considers it illegal,” Rose al-Yūsuf
in Arab-West Report, Week 27, Art 50, July 5, 2007. URL:
Bishop Bisanti said on a symposium organized by ‘Ālam al-Mashāhīr newspaper that the number
of Copts in Egypt exceeds 15 million. A source at the Central Agency for Public Mobilization
and Statistics said they never received any request from the church to take a census of the
number of Copts. The source indicated that any census should be approved by CAPMAS,
otherwise it is considered illegal. Christians interviewed by the authors were skeptical with
regard to the figures revealed in the census. They questioned whether the census included the one
and a half million Coptic emigrants abroad. They also questioned whether it included Christians
from other denominations.
CH: In other words, the Christians the authors consulted believe the number could be even
higher than 15 million.
242. Hamdi Rizq, “15 million Copts,” A - i r a -Yawm in Arab-West Report, Week 27, Art
49, July 7, 2007. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2007/week-27/49-15-million-
The author believes it is the first time that a church leader has revealed the number of Copts in
Egypt. Bishop Bisantī claims that the number of Copts in Egypt exceeds 15 million according to
a census taken by the Coptic Orthodox Church. He further asserted that he does not mention
these figures without having a reference to support them.
CH (May 2012): It is not the first time Bishop Bisantī or other churchleaders have made such
claims. It perhaps is the first time that a church leaders is referring to a “census” taken by the
Coptic Orthodox Church. The problem with this claim is that no one has ever seen that census
and has been able to verify the data.
The author questions what sources Bishop Bisantī relied on while carrying out this census,
especially since the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics denied approving a
census of the church.
The author believes that these figures are a rough approximation of the number of Copts that
may only rely on the number of baptisms recorded. He believes that it will remain an
approximation until its sources are revealed.
243. Hani Labīb, “Statements against citizenship,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab-West Report, Week
27, Art 48, July 8, 2007. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2007/week-27/48-
Labib wrote in June an article accusing members of the Muslim Brotherhood of suffering from
intellectual and political disorder. He wrote this following the statement of a deputy of the
Muslim Brotherhood presented to Prime Minister Ahmad Nazīf last June in the People’s
Assembly. The statement stated that the failure to declare the number of Muslims and Copts in
the last census was illegal. He also said that numbers have to be revealed in order to boast about
the number of Muslims and assert that Egypt is an Islamic state.
The author believes that this form of extremism has support from both sides. Bishop Bisantī of
ilwān and Ma‘sarah declared, in an unprecedented statement, that the number of Copts exceeds
15 million according to a census taken by the church.
The author indicated that the first article of the Constitution affirms the principle of citizenship
regardless of numbers and the citizen’s place within the majority or the minority of the
244. Magdy Malak, “Copts need not apply,” Watani International in Arab West Report, Week
27, Art 57, July 8, 2007. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2007/week-27/57-copts-
The Copts’ role in Egyptian politics—especially compared to their numbers which range
between 10 and 12 per cent of the population—has been on a steady decline throughout
the past five decades. And even though the church supported the ruling National
Democratic Party (NDP) in the last presidential and parliamentary elections, the NDP did
not respond by including any Copts on its candidate list for the recent Shura or
Consultative Council—the upper house of Egypt’s parliament—mid-term elections.
President Mubarak appointed to the Shura three Copts, Younan Labib Rizq and Wadie
Fikry Ghali, whose membership was renewed, and Badr Helmy Rizqallah, a new member
replacing the late Coptic member Fikry Makram Ebeid.
245. Nihal Bilal, Du‘a’ ‘Abd al-Rahman, “The unanswered question: What is the population
of Copts in Egypt?” A - u a ar in Arab West Report, Week 28, Art 48, July 13, 2007.
“The estimated number of the Coptic population in Egypt has always been one of the taboos of
the Coptic cause. Regardless of the inconvincible reasons behind this blackout, the number of
Copts varies according to the source. Coptic sources would estimate them as ranging between 10
to 15% of the total population, while other unofficial sources estimate it to be between 6 and 8
The authors, Nihāl Bilāl and Du‘ā’ ‘Abd al-Ra mān, report on the repercussions to the recent
statements of Bishop Bisantī of ilwān and al-Ma‘sarah, who estimated the number of Copts to
be around 10 or 15 million (For more information see: AWR, 2007, Week 27, Art. 47).
Amidst a seminar about citizenship, Bishop Bisantī surprised the attendants by affirming that he
had more than one reason to estimate the number of Copts that way, refusing to identify his
sources. However, he clarified that in 1977, Sayyid Mar‘ī, former speaker of the Egyptian
People’s Assembly, estimated the number of Copts as not exceeding six million at a time when
Egypt’s total population was 30 million. Bishop Bisantī added that people should not be
surprised if I said that 10 to 15 million of the 75 million Egyptians are Copts.
Bishop Bisantī exclaimed that priests can easily know the number of Copts living in their
neighborhoods through the baptism certificates they issue for new-born Copts and also through
marriage contracts. He went further explained that there are nine million Egyptian Orthodox
Copts, one million Protestants, and 100,000 Catholics living in Egypt. On the other hand, Copts
living abroad do not exceed one million. There are 500,000 in the U.S., 200,000 in Australia,
200,000 in Canada, and 100,000 in Europe.”
246. Michael ‘Adil, “Bishop Bisanti said to Rose al-Yūsuf, ‘We reject all Western interference
in Coptic affairs, and we do not receive any U.S. donations’,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West
Report, Week 28, Art 47, July 17, 2007. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“Bishop Bisantī of ilwān and al-Ma‘sarah and one of the main references in the Coptic
Orthodox Church asserted that the Coptic Orthodox Church has rejected all forms of foreign
interference and has denied all allegations about the church’s intention to assign a successor to
Pope Shenouda. Many other recent controversial issues are also discussed in this interview.
Q: You said that Copts numbered up to 15 million in Egypt, but what are your references?
A: There are two incidents that prove my argument. In 1977, Sayyid Mar‘ī, president of the
People’s Assembly at the time, met with Father Tadrus Ya‘qūb, the priest of Saint JirJis Church
in Alexandria. In the meeting, Mar‘ī contradicted Father Ya‘qūb when he declared that the Copts
numbered 12 million. Mar‘ī declared that the Copts numbered 6 millions according to the state’s
In a meeting between Pope Shenouda and the former U.S. President Carter, the latter told Pope
Shenouda, “I know that you are the spiritual guide for 6 million Copts.” The pope replied, “7
So, the scientific average of those two numbers would mean there were approximately 6.5
million Copts at that time.
However, knowing that Egyptians numbered 35 million at that time and 70 million now, one can
see that Egyptians, Muslims and Christians, have doubled in number. Consequently and
reasonably speaking, the number of Copts cannot be the same now, in 2007, as it was in 1977.
The Coptic people must number between 13-15 million now.
Q: Does the church know the exact number of Copts?
A: The church has approximate numbers from the baptism records, marriage records and deaths
Q: Do you think that there is an international tendency to arouse this issue of the number of
Copts in Egypt at this particular time?
A: We reject any offense against Egypt. However, as citizens, we speak loudly for no other
reason than to hear each other. Reality implies that the number of Copts is 15 million, and the
government can put an end to all doubts by announcing the real number.
Q: What if the government does not want to?
A: If the government finds it useless to announce the real number of Copts, then “let it be.”
247. Salim al-Sharif, “‘I do not wish to succeed the pope,’ Bishop Musá says,” A -A rār in
Arab West Report, Week 29, Art 34, July 23, 2007. URL:
“The article is based on an interview with Bishop Mūsá the bishop of youth in the Coptic
Orthodox Church. The bishop talked about problems of Copts in Egypt and the church’s relation
with Coptic activists in the West.
Q: Do Copts still fear actively participating in politics?
A: Since Jamāl ‘Abd al-Nāsir’s [Reviewer: ruled Egypt from 1954 until 1970] totalitarian
regime, Copts have withdrawn from the political life. Nowadays, they have a feeling of being a
minority, and that they do not enjoy all rights on equal terms with other citizens.
Hence, the church always rejects such feelings, teaching its children in Egypt and abroad that we
proudly belong to this country.
Q: It seems that you disagree with claims of discrimination against Copts?
A: No one says there is discrimination against Copts, which is a vapid phrase. We, however, say
that there are some issues that we, as a group of citizens, do not have all our rights, such as
holding high-ranking positions in the army, police and judiciary. I have urged Copts not to yield
to despair, but to apply for any kind of positions as we are all children of the country.
Q: What is your opinion on the expatriate Copts?
A: There are about 500,000 Copts living abroad, but only ten of them cause trouble.
The church always advices them to abandon their actions in a bid to put them back in order.
They even attack leaders of the church and the pope himself as they enjoy more freedom in the
248. Cornelis Hulsman, “Editorial,” Arab-West Report, Week 23, Art 1, August 28, 2007.
“The discussion about the number of Copts appointed to key positions or being candidates for
parliament is linked to an unhealthy discussion about the number of Copts in Egyptian society.
Do they make up 6% of the population as government statisticians claim or do they make up 10
to 20% of population as some church figures claim. But regardless of that discussion there are
not even 6% Copts appointed to ’key positions’ whatever that means.
Does the ILO mean with ’key positions’ government ministers, top positions in various
ministries or does it also include top positions in, for example, universities? One should also ask
why there are so few Copts in key positions in the government or candidates for parliament.
Many such functions are related to someone’s membership in the ruling National Democratic
Party. Is it perhaps because only few Copts have become a member of this party and are active in
it? The problem is that there is no exact information and figures available to the public and thus
claims are made based on very in precise information.”
249. Maria Rezzonico, “Report on church response to poverty in Egypt,” in Arab-West Report,
Week 35, Art 2, August 31, 2007. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2007/week-
The Coptic Orthodox Bishops Marqus of Shubra al-Khayma, northern Cairo, and Picenti of
Helwan, south of Cairo, report a large influx of Christians from rural Egypt. They mentioned
nothing of a church census. “It seemed instead that even the bishops were unsure of the precise
total number of Copts. Every bishop provided his own percentage according to his own criteria,
as it is clear from the following examples.”
Bishop Picenti bases his own estimation on the statement allegedly made by President Jimmy
Carter during Pope Shenouda's visit to the United States in 1977. “I know that you are the leader
of 6,000,000-7,000,000 Christians” (these are the words of Bishop Picenti: the figure commonly
referred to is 7,000,000). Based on this assumption, the Bishop's reasoning is the following:
having the Egyptian population doubled from that moment, it means that Christians today are
between 10 and 15 million. If we consider that, according to the last census, the Egyptian
population runs at 76,000,000, the estimation provided by Bishop Picenti corresponds to between
13 and 20 percent.
Bishop Marqus believed in 2007 that Christians in Egypt are roughly between 12 and 15 million
people. He based his estimate on the percentage of Christians in the districts his diocese is
situated in, which according to him is between 15 and 18 percent. Bishop Marqus said that his
approximation also includes the estimated 2,000,000 Egyptian Christians abroad. Fargues
critiqued the Bishop’s statement, as he did not provide any indication how that number had been
It is noteworthy that Catholic clergy estimated the number of conversions to Islam to be higher
than Orthodox clergy, including the bishops Picenti and Marqus, who told me that their estimates
were too high.
250. Muhammad ‘Uthman, “Dialogue between the Mediterranean states to address migration
problems,” Al-Ahrām in Arab-West Report, Week 36, Art 46, September 10, 2007. URL:
Prince al-Hasan Bin alāl, president of the Arab Thought Forum, told members of the Egyptian
European Council and European ambassadors in Cairo that there is a need to build bridges of
dialogue across the Mediterranean to address mass migration problems and humanitarian
251. Cornelis Hulsman, “Interview with HRH Prince Hasan ibn Talal,” Arab-West Report,
Week 52, Art 5, September 11, 2007. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2007/week-
Prince Hassan preferred not to respond to actual numbers of declining Christianity in the Arab
World but stated: “Well, it appears to me that Western embassies, when looking at the queue of
applicants for visas, tend to favor Christian applicants simply because they feel that there is a
cultural affinity there, which is in sense a contradiction in terms.” On the question about the
consequences of emigration the Prince responded “the question is, can Christianity live in a
pluralistic world, can Islam live in a pluralistic world, can Judaism live in a pluralistic world?”
252. Bisan Kassab, “Muntasal-Zayyat: although the number of Copts in the Union for Liberty
experienced only a slight rise, it is still the highest number among all of the Islamic parties in
Egypt,” Al-Dustūr in Arab West Report, Week 38, Art 17, September 24, 2007. URL:
“The deputy of the Union for Freedom Party, Munta ir al-Zayyāt revealed that the number of the
party members has now exceeded 1000 people, which is the minimum number required by the
law of parties. Al-Zayyāt said that the number of Coptic members has increased from five,
during the party’s constitutive declaration statement, to eight which is the highest number
amongst all of the Islamic parties in Egypt. He pointed out that he would allow greater
participation of the Copts in the party in order to dispel their fears.”
253. ‘Adil Gindi, “Discrimination against Copts,” Watani International in Arab West Report,
Week 39, Art 30, September 30, 2007. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
A recent report entitled “Discrimination at Work in the Middle East and North Africa” by
the International Labor Organization (ILO), said that “One of the most resilient forms of
discrimination is the targeting of Copts in Egypt, who are denied equal access to
education and equal opportunities in recruitment and promotion. Very few are appointed
to key positions in the Government or are candidates for parliament. Enrolment of Copts
in police academies and military schools is restricted, and very few are teachers and
The author highlights ten of the factors of discrimination mentioned in the report made by ILO.
254. Sharif al-Dawakhli, “A new disappearance case of a young Christian girl from Beni Suef
and the American Coptic Union claims that the number of girls kidnapped reached half a
million,” Al-Dustūr in Arab West Report, Week 40, Art 14, October 8, 2007. URL:
christian-girl-beni-suef-and-american-coptic-union (http://www.copts4freedom.com and
AWR, 2007, Week 37, art. 5; and Week 38, art. 6).
“[…] the American Coptic Union [See: http://www.copts4freedom.com/] issued a statement
expressing its regret with the continuing phenomenon of the disappearance of Christian girls,
claiming that half a million girls were kidnapped in Egypt. [Reviewer: The article does not
mention any specifics regarding this figure presented but the American Coptic Union is known
for its exaggerations]. The Union asserted that it will ask the U.S. administration to implement
the recommendations suggested by the annual U.S. International Religious Freedom Report for
2007. (Reviewer: Reviewer: For more information on the report see: AWR, 2007, Week 37, Art.
5; and Week 38, Art. 6)”
255. Cornelis Hulsman, “Editorial,” Arab-West Report, Week 28, Art 1, October 2007. URL:
“Much discussion was created about an American document that allegedly claims that direct aid
should preferably to locations of high density Coptic population (Art. 11-17). We haven’t seen
the document, but the claims are serious. As Robier Faris wrote, "Portrayed as American
proteges, they were made to appear as an alien bloc of Egyptians at best, and as foreigners at
worst. The US is hated on the Egyptian street because of its policy in Iraq and Palestine, and
linking it to Copts does not work in their favor." (Art. 13)
“Claims about Copts owning a large percentage of wealth in Egypt, much larger than their
numbers in population do suggest (Art. 39) also adds to tensions. Certainly there are rich Copts
but an estimated 80% of the Copts lives on or below the poverty level. No wonder Bishop
Bisantī provided Rose al-Yūsuf with a long interview reflecting his views on church and state
relations and rejecting Western interference in Coptic affairs, especially referring to U.S.
government funding (Art. 47).”
CH (May 2012): The estimate of 80% of the Copts living close to or below the poverty line come
from an interview with Dr. Farid Fadel in 2006. This estimate matches with what bishops in the
research of Maria Rezzonico in 2007 told us.
256. Cornelis Hulsman, “Jordanian prince: Christians must stay,” Katholiek Nieuwsblad in
Arab-West Report, Week 52, Art 8, October 12, 2007. URL:
The answer to ongoing Christian emigration is through promotion of values of pluralism and
reducing conflicts. “Conflicts have evoked religious extremism because many Muslims see the
Western interventions as unjust. Christians in the West often respond to that with a lack of
257. Lotus Kiwan, “Chairman of the Middle Eastern Christians Association: “These are the
numbers of churches compared with those of mosques in all the Egyptian governorates; 6000
churches and 65000 mosques,” a t a -Ummah in Arab West Report, Week 43, Art 21,
October 29, 2007. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2007/week-43/21-chairman-
“Middle East Christians Association issued statistics on the number of churches and mosques in
The article has a table, which provides the number of churches and mosques for the different
258. ‘Abd al-Latif, ‘Antar and Sami Jad al-Haqq, “The Azhar shaykhs answer: Copts want to
increase the number of churches to say that Egypt is a Coptic nation, despite the fact that
Islam is its official religion,” a t a -Ummah in Arab-West Report, Week 43, Art 22,
October 29, 2007. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2007/week-43/22-azhar-
Several Muslim Shaykhs responded to statistics that the Middle East Christian Association
published about the numbers of mosques and churches in Egypt. Dr. Mu afá al-Shak‘ah,
member of the Academy for Islamic Research described the statistics as wrong and false. He
claimed that Christians want to build churches so that they can claim that Egypt is a Coptic
nation. He added that many churches do not have enough people pray in them.
259. Karabo Che Mokoape, “Is the Egyptian church shrinking?” Strek Magazine in Arab-West
Report, Week 52, Art 4, November 3, 2007. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
The Orthodox Coptic church remains the umbrella for more than 90% of Christians in Egypt,
however, it has been encroached upon by a resurgent indigenous traditional protestant church, as
well as a rapidly growing Evangelical community.
Kasr el-Dobara is the Egyptian answer to the mega church, where more than 5000 thousand
worshippers gather in energetic and defiant faith. On the other side of town is Aghapy TV, the
first Christian station in Egypt was established in 2005. The station is a personal project of Pope
Shenouda and is another bow in the public relations bow of the Orthodox church. Now its
coverage reaches as far as US and Mexico.
However, such successes may mask fundamental weaknesses within the wider church. What
perceived growth there is within church communities is often at the expense of other churches.
There is no evidence, beyond the anecdotal, to support the claims made some Christian
organisations, of significant conversions from Islam to Christianity.
A fundamental disagreement as to the relative size of the Christian community in Egypt is
central to assessing to what extent, if any Christians are being marginalised. This is particularly
the case because the figures quoted by Christians and the government are miles apart. According
to the Coptic Church, Christians make up as much as 13% of the nation’s 73 million population.
Estimates made by some Christian advocacy groups put the figure and 20%. The Central Agency
for Population Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS), the state agency, on the other hand works
with a figure of 5.5%. It bases this figure primarily on the results of the last census.
Fresh controversy stemming from this discrepancy reared its head in August of this year, when
the International Labour Organisation (ILO) released its annual report on Egypt. Quoting an 11%
estimate, the report criticised the Egyptian government for permitting continuing under
representation of Christian within the government and other state institutions. Dr Eric Denis, a
researcher with CEDEJ (Centre d‘Etudes et de Documentation Economique, Juristique et
Sociales), who has extensively researched the subject, puts the estimate at 7%.
Egypt’s Christian community is indeed underrepresented in the higher levels of government. It is
true that Christians hold only 5 seats or in the 440 seat Maglis el Sha’b (People’s Assembly). It is
also true that none of the country’s governors, ambassadors, nor university heads are Christian.
This is a serious problem and a source of tension among Christians,. However, Christians are
guilty inflating their numbers as a means of lobbying the government for concessions in other
areas, which raises tensions yet further.
In fact this masks what might be far more serious threat to the Church’s long-term viability in
Egypt. Kees Hulsman, the director of the Centre for Arab West Understanding (CAWU), says
that between five and seven thousand Christians convert to Islam annually. Most of these
converts are young women, between the ages of 18 and 25, who convert to Islam through
marriage, for practical and/or financial reasons. All things being equal the number of converts
between the two religions would cancel each other out. However, conversion from Islam to any
other faith is forbidden under Sharia law and not recognised by the legal system. Therefore, the
Christian community cannot replenish its numbers by receiving new believers to replace those
who have left.
Furthermore, Egypt has experienced an unprecedented emigration exodus, supported by the fact
that it is fourth highest recipient of remittances from citizens living abroad. Controversial
immigration policies by many receiving Western states, and the US in particular, have meant that
Christian Egyptians are grossly overrepresented among emigrants.
260. Tereza Kamal and Nader Shukry, “Sectarian violence in Gabal-al-Teir, Minya. Truck
loads of violence,” Watani International in Arab West Report, Week 44, Art 29, November
4, 2007. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2007/week-44/29-sectarian-violence-
The rocky Gabal-al-Teir (Mountain of the Birds) towers high above the lush green fields
on the eastern bank of the Nile valley in Samalout, Minya, in Upper Egypt. Perched right
on top is the breathtakingly beautiful Monastery of the Holy Virgin. And around the
monastery is the village of Gabal-al-Teir which has a predominantly Coptic population of
some 7000 residents. Further down on the mountainside, a mere 150 metres down, lies
the village al-Abed with a population of some 500 Muslims.
261. Tamir Shukri, “Pressreview: Najib Sawirus, the Brotherhood has no power to permit or
prohibit,” Arab-West Report, Week 45, Art 16, November 7, 2007. URL:
A -A rār has quoted well-known businessman – Sawirus – as saying, “I tell the Brotherhood:
“To hell with you.” As Copts are Egyptians, they enjoy the rights provided to all Egyptians,
including running for presidency.” [Reviewer: The daily A - i r a -Yawm has released a
transcript of his statement; however it did not include this offensive quote that A -A rār has
In Al-Dustūr, Iqbāl Barakah argued that the manifesto has unveiled the ugly face of the Muslim
Brotherhood that has chosen to eliminate political rights of the three quarters of citizens, “None
for women (estimated as half of the population) and none for Copts.”
(Reviewer: According to 2007 census, women make up 48.88% of population [see:
http://ar.wikipedia.org/wiki/.#م صرD8.A7.D9.84.D8.B3.D9.83.D8.A7.D9.86]; however, there is
no definitive estimation on the number of Copts – it ranges between 6 to 8%.)
262. Cornelis Hulsman and Sawsan Gabra Ayoub Khalil. “One-sided reporting about Egypt,”
Reformatorisch Dagblad in Arab-West Report, Week 51, Art 3, November 28, 2007. URL:
Egyptian bishops frequently claim with great certainty that Christians make up between 10 and
15 percent of the population, while the French statistician P. Fargues and others have shown that
the percentage of Christians in Egypt has declined in the past decades from 8 to 5.5 percent.
These exaggerated estimates are used to show how Christians are discriminated against in top
functions, or that the church obtained too few permits for church building. This subordination
does exist but the politically motivated exaggerated estimates are dishonest.
263. Cornelis Hulsman, “Christian activists’ contributions to Christian migration from the
Arab world; can Christianity survive in the Arab world?” Arab-West Report, Week 51, Art 2,
December 5, 2007. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2007/week-51/2-christian-
“The percentage of Christians has been declining in every Arab country since the First World
War. Egypt's Christians made up 8.14% of the population in 1907. This is now 5,5%.”
“It is estimated that 70% of all Egyptian emigrants to the West are Christian, a huge percentage
bearing in mind that 5,5% to 6% of Egyptians are Christian. The great majority of these
emigrants are well educated, reducing the number of educated Copts in Egypt and thus
weakening the influence of Coptic laymen in both the church and the state.
Coptic Orthodox Bishop Pisenti of Ma‘sarah and Hilwān estimated that approximately 5,000-
10,000 Christians convert to Islam annually, "remarking that this represents a low percentage on
the total number of Copts," that the bishop estimates to be between 10 and 15 million. The
bishop also estimates half of these conversions to be young Christian girls and the other half to
be related to divorce.
But if one uses the statistics Fargues accepts, and accepts that population growth is 1.83% or
1,409,100,out of a population of 77 million and of these 84,546 are Christians, half of them
women, making the conversion of Christians to Islam close to 9% of their natural growth.”
(Contains an entire section on “Demographic changes”.)
264. ‘Adil Jindi, “Effective equality is the way to real citizenship”, a a al-Dawlī in Arab
West Report, Week 50, Art 21, December 16, 2007. URL:
citizenship. (ILO, see the report:
“The author explains his study about the percentage of Copts hired as teaching staff of Assiut
University in order to prove that there is real discrimination practiced against Copts in taking
over high-ranking state posts.
According to information posted on the university’s official Web site for 2006-2007 academic
year, al-Jindī and his collaborating team found out that there are 48 (± 3) Coptic professors out of
819 – less than 6%, while no single Copt heads a department, and there are 108 departments in
the university. Furthermore, there are 22 (± 2) Coptic teachers out of 1271 – 1.7%. Certainly, this
percentage will shrink in the coming generations. The author adds that it is known that Copts are
estimated as making up more than 25% of population of upper Egyptian cities; therefore, they
make up 19-to-30% of students at the university [Editor: the percentages given here are inflated].
He then wonders how 30% of students are Copts when only 1.7 are hired as teachers [Editor: the
author first states Christian students at university comprise 19 to 30% of all students, and then
continues with the 30%. The author provides his own inflated estimates and does not base
himself on actual university statistics. Regardless of this inflation it is likely Copts are
265. Iman al-Ashraf, “Pope Shenouda to Alexandrian Copts: My spine hurts me and the story
of the one billion Catholics does not worry me... it is faith, and not numbers, that matters,”
Al-Dustūr in Arab West Report, Week 51, Art 42, December 25, 2007. URL:
“The pope, nevertheless, responded to a question about the one billion followers of the Catholic
Church in the world, saying that in religion it is only faith that matters and not the numbers of
followers of a certain belief.”
266. Majdi Khalil, “How do we stop violence against Copts?” a a al-Da in Arab West
Report, Week 3, Art 6, January 20, 2008. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
The author “argues, the violence against Copts has increased over the last few years. It is no
longer linked to the violent incidents that erupted in the 1990s. Khalīl attributes the escalation
of violence against Copts to the deep penetration of religious fundamentalism among a wide
range of Egyptians, criticizing the state’s passive approach to violence.
Khalīl cites statistics collected by the Ibn Khaldūn Center for Development Studies that reveal
that 240 major sectarian violence incidents took place over the last few years. The security
forces intervened to stop the incidents, and national and international press covered them. This
figure does not include the other minor incidents that occurred. Another study revealed that
4000 Copts were killed or hurt in the incidents in addition to the millions of pounds worth of
destroyed Coptic businesses and properties (Editor: the statement of 4000 Copts being killed or
hurt is very tendentious. The author would have done better to separate between being killed
and being hurt)”
267. Ishaq Ibrahim, “Luring Copts into politics,” Watani International in Arab West Report,
Week 3, Art 7, January 20, 2008. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2008/week-3/7-
“A workshop organized by the Forum of National Contribution discussed the role of Copts in the
political life of the country. As well as other issues, participants debated the possibility of having
a quota for Copts in parliament and the establishment of a committee to monitor discrimination.
Dr. Harb criticized the common practice of Copts being more active on the economic rather than
on the political front, saying this promoted sectarianism and supported fanatic claims that Copts
controlled 30 per cent of the nation’s wealth.
Emad Gad of al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies said democracy was not
restricted to people casting their ballots. He asked whether the ruling regime really wanted
genuine reform, and argued that the NDP had an interest in isolating Copts in their churches and
preventing them from taking on a political and societal role. He said categorisation in schools
and social clubs on the basis of religion was the first step to the absence of Coptic representation
in the Parliament.”
268. Cornelis Hulsman, “Editorial,” Arab-West Report, Week 43, Art 1, January 22, 2008.
“Muslim author Jamāl al-Bannā stated that Western nations are targeting Egypt’s social order
and national unity. The chairman of the Middle East Christians Association claimed that
Christians have much fewer churches in relation to their proportion of the population than
Muslims have mosques. Interesting article by Majdī Khalīl about Copts and the Egyptian
Saw al-Ummah (Art. 21) reported on the chairman of the Middle East Christians Association
claiming that there are 1960 churches and 65,000 mosques in Egypt. He then calculates the
average number of Christians per church and average number of Muslims per mosque. It is
certainly true that Christians have much fewer churches in comparison to their numbers then
Muslims have mosques, but there are also major flaws in his argument: The number of
churches and mosques is higher than what is reported here. The numbers given are probably the
numbers of registered houses of worship. The size of the houses of worship are not taken into
consideration. One would need to calculate the number of seats in comparison to their religious
community.The Association gives a percentage of Christians that is too high, creating another
269. Cornelis Hulsman, “Editorial,” Arab-West Report, Week 5, Art 1, 2008. URL:
Muslim-Christian tensions are, in general, felt much more by Christians than by Muslims
for reasons of sheer numbers. Tensions in a country with a population of 6 percent
Christian and 94 percent Muslim are of course felt much stronger by the smaller religious
group. It is little wonder that many Christians want to emigrate. Jamāl As‘ad writes that
emigration of Christians from the Middle East to Western countries, especially the U.S.,
Canada, and Australia, has become one of the most remarkable social phenomena in the
last few decades. As‘ad believes opportunists use the persecution of Christians for
personal gain. Thus, facts are mixed with illusions and false assumptions. Of course there
are common factors that push both Muslims and Christians in the region to seek to
emigrate, the most important of which is the deteriorating economic condition and the
consequences of this on the youth. Another reason is the spread of salafī ideologies that
causes Christians to feel like strangers. Jamāl As‘ad then notes that 95 percent of people
awarded the U.S. immigration lottery are Copts. He criticizes Coptic Orthodox churches
for facilitating the process of applying for this emigration, wondering if there is a joint
U.S.-church plan to empty Egypt of its Copts (Art. 40).
270. ‘Adil Gindi, “The Talibanization of education in Egypt: How the Arabic language
courses were turned into obligatory indoctrination in Islam,” Watani International in Arab
West Report, Week 5, Art 31, February 3, 2008. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“The following article presents an overview of what the author coins the “talibanization” of
eduction in Egypt, and the impact that it is having in schooling systems, particularly in relation
to Muslims versus Copts.
Review of the schoolbooks of the Ministry of Education in the elementary and junior high
(preparatory) schools, came with most surprising findings: Arabic language classes have been
directly and indirectly turned into lessons in Islamic religious indoctrination. _Based on the
complete set of books available to us, pertaining to the first semester of 2007/2008; it turned
out that the number of Arabic language lessons taught to pupils from the second grade of
primary education up to the third grade of junior high, is 126. These were found to include 52
which contain Islamic texts and references - at a rate of 41%. They are broken down as follows:
Elementary second grade (15/7), third (15/7), fourth (15/5), fifth (17/6), sixth (17/8), junior
high first grade (15/8), second (15/7), and third (1714).”
271. Shirin Rabi, “Exclusive, a dangerous study reveals the increasing number of Coptic
prisoners in Egyptian prisons because of Pope Shenouda’s obstinacy in solving divorce-
related problems and the collapse of Copts’ educational level,” a t a -Ummah in Arab West
Report, Week 7, Art 27, February 11, 2008. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“Dr. Kushk’s study revealed an increasing number of Egyptian Christians who face jail sentences
in the period from January 2000 to June 2007. There are a total of 12,231 Christian prisoners;
7418 of them are men and 4812 women. […].”
“The study revealed the increasing range as follows: In December 2000 the number of Christian
prisoners in Egyptian prisons was 7898, 8295 in 2001, with 417 more prisoners, 8712 in 2002,
with an increase of 518 prisoners, 9230 in 2003, with an increase of 672, 9902 in 2004 with an
increase of 741, 10647 in 2005 with an increase of 767, 11410 in 2006, with an increase of 821
and the number raised to 12231 with an increase of 912 prisoners.”
“A practical study revealed that there were 20,000 divorce rulings for Christian couples in the
Egyptian courts between 1996 and 2000. (Reviewer: The article does not mention whether it was
the same study or another study. Rabī c also does not make it clear when she mixes between her
argument and the study.) In Assiut there are 1057 divorce cases pending a church decision after
having the court rules of divorce. In Giza there were 9774 divorce cases in one year and 161
cases could have the khul‘.”
“[…] observers of Coptic issues asserted that the number of bishops during Pope Shenouda’s
mandate increased by 600 percent. This factor had a negative impact and divided Copts,
especially when considering that they provide no altitudes for anybody who holds a different
opinion to the church. The church trials are another factor leading to an increase in tension in the
absence of clear rules.”
272. Cornelis Hulsman, “The peace building prince; One Jordanian leader shares his deep
desire to preserve the Arab Christian World,” Christianity Today in Arab-West Report, Week
52, Art 7, February 13, 2008. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2007/week-52/7-
“Demography and geography have been a part of the reason for Christian emigration. There is a
feeling in the West that somehow Christianity is Western-centric. There are incentives for
Middle Eastern Christians to migrate: salvation from a hostile atmosphere that is not their
creation, and for which they are not the sole target or victim. Do you know that there are more
Christians from Jerusalem in Sydney, Australia, than there are in Jerusalem? There is a feeling
that migration is facilitated to save souls and that is tragic.”
273. Sami Jad al-Haqq, “Copts are the watchword in the local councils elections in Minia,”
a t a -Ummah in Arab West Report, Week 9, Art 37, February 25, 2008. URL:
“As the ruling National Democratic Party has enrolled a number of Copts in its lists for the
upcoming local councils elections in the southern governorate of Minia, the author believes it is
a political exploitation of Copts within the party’s campaign.
‘Abd al-Wahhād Makram, member of the People’s Assembly and coordinator of the ruling
National Democratic Party [NDP, see: www.ndp.org.eg] campaigns in Minia, stated that the
NDP has enrolled nine Coptic candidates in the Shārūnah village alone, among other locations
throughout the southern governorate. The author regards the action as a political exploitation of
Copts in the elections as the contests in Minia are apparently hard.”
274. Dr. Rafiq Habib, “Will Copts be a minority?” Al-Dustūr in Arab West Report, Week 9,
Art 19, March 1, 2008. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2008/week-9/19-will-
“Rafīq Habīb rejects visions that regard Copts as a minority group in Egypt, saying it is just a
numerical minority that coincides with the cultural and civilizational features of society as a
Habīb defines the concept of ’the minority group’ as the group that contains fewer number of
citizens and differs culturally and civilizationally from the rest of society. However, ’the
numerical minority’ is not considered a minority but rather an acknowledgment of a statistical
fact. Accordingly, Copts constitute a numerical minority as they are a part of the cultural and
civilizational framework of the entire society.
Some Copts tend to promote an idea that they are a persecuted minority group. The author says
that certainly not any problem associated to the numerical minority results in turning it into a
cultural or civilizational minority group.
The author also criticizes some visions that consider the current prevailing Islamic and Arab
cultural as a threat to the Coptic one, as a result they tend to call for fixed quotas in the
parliament and on high-ranking posts. Thus, it is only Copts who will choose either to merge
into the entire society and to take part in its activities, or to work on keeping privacy but losing
their cultural and civilizational roles, Habīb says.”
274. Katia Saqqa, “Objective laws and the Coptic Personal status code in Egypt,” Arab
West Report, Week 11, Art 33, March 12, 2008. URL:
“The Egyptian press continues to devote attention to the different reactions to the Supreme
Administrative Court ruling allowing Christian divorcees to remarry. The church rejected the
ruling and considered it against the Bible and church codes. Some authors highlighted the tragic
influence of the restrictions imposed on divorce and remarriage in Coptic families.
[Schismatic bishop] Max Michel has declared that there are one million eight hundred Copts who
have converted during the mandate of Pope Shenouda III. ‘Amr Bayyūmī of March 14, 2008
mentioned that the Coptic Orthodox Church denied the allegations and intended to file a claim
against Max Michel accusing him of sowing sedition amongst Copts and between Copts and
Bishop Bakhomius added that according to the official state’s statistics the number of Copts in
Egypt is 5.6 million. However, according to Max Michel’s allegations, the number of converts is
1.8 million, which means that one third of every Christian family in Egypt converts, which
Bishop Bakhomius stated is “unrealistic”. Bishop Bakhomius revealed that there are 13 million
Copts in Egypt, according to the annual statistics applied by the different bishoprics, adding that
the state’s official statistics are not accurate.”
275. Ahmad al-Sa‘dawi, “A controversial CD signals war between the church and Max,”
Ākhir Sā‘ah in Arab West Report, Week 12, Art 4, March 19, 2008.URL:
[Schismatic bishop] “Max Michel claimed that he has a CD on which an alleged meeting of
Coptic Orthodox clergymen is recorded. Michel claims that the Coptic Orthodox clergymen
discussed the increasing number of Copts who convert to Islam. Max Michel further claimed that
Copts’ conversion has become more common under the mandate of Pope Shenouda. He further
claimed that the Coptic Orthodox Church is aware of this “loss” of its believers, and stated that
he has a CD that proves his allegations, on which a monk called Anastasi al-Samū’īlī speaks
about the issue.
Bishop Pachomius added that the monk’s information was not correct. He added that the
statement of his that was on the CD was cut from his refutation of the assumption that Copts
number in Egypt decreased from 8.2 percent to 5.6 percent in the period between 1917 and 1987.
Bishop Pachomius stated that the original CD is available in all Coptic churches’ bookshops, and
it will show the defectiveness of Michel’s assumptions.”
276. Sami Jad al-Haqq, “Dr. Mustafá al-Shak‘ah, accused of insulting Christianity: there is a
church every 100 meters in Heliopolis, Copts control Egyptians’ fate and it is not our
problem that they are a minority,” a t a -Ummah in Arab West Report, Week 13, Art 24,
March 24, 2008. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2008/week-13/24-dr-mustaf225-
The author presents Dr. al-Shak‘ah, professor at the Azhar University and member of the Islamic
Research Academy and his comments about claims that he has insulted Christianity, based on a
report submitted by two Coptic activists.
Al-Shak‘ah believes that there is an international program, supported by The World Council of
Churches (WCC, see: www.oikoumene.org), to build a large number of churches in Egypt
(nonsense!). He also says that the state goes too far in giving permits to build new churches to
the extent that there is a church every 100 meters in Heliopolis (Editor: an extreme
exaggeration). He described the claims that Copts are persecuted as unfair allegations as Copts
occupy 50 percent of the leading positions in Egypt. He highlighted the Islamic teachings, that
urge Muslims to treat Christians as equal citizens. He also asserted that Copts demands should be
reasonable and correspond to how many Copts there are.”
277. Shirin Rabi‘, “Copts of Assiut send a letter to Mubarak denouncing the promotion of
Muhammad Muhsin Salih – the seditions igniter – and accusing Safwat al-Sharif of
slaughtering them,” a t a -Ummah in Arab West Report, Week 15, Art 29, April 7, 2008.
“Coptic lawyer and human rights activist Mamdūh Ramzī denounced the decision and pointed
out that Sālih has been accused several times of proselytizing Christian families. “The more
Copts try to genuinely join the political realm in Egypt, the more state institutions try to cut them
out,” Ramzī said. Copts make up 70 percent of the population in Assiut; as a result they should
be represented in elections in a way that corresponds to that percentage, an eliminated Copt,
Girgis Hannā has stated.”
278. Katia Saqqa, Press review: “Attacks against the Coptic Orthodox Monastery of Abu
Fana, covering the period June 9 – June 16 ,” Arab West Report, Week 15, Art 8, June 14-
20, 2008. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2008/week-15/8-attacks-against-coptic-
orthodox-monastery-ab363-f257n257-covering-period-june-9, arts referred to:
“In the issue of Al-Fajr, June 9 2008, Muhammad al-Bāz mentioned that the attack against Abū
Fānā Monastery was not the first of its kind, and that attacks have been carried out since 2005.
Al-Bāz mentioned that according to the Coptic Orthodox Church’s census, the attack against
Abū Fānā is the 18 since 2005. He also reported that over the last five months, six attacks were
carried out by the community tribes surrounding the monastery.”
“Al-Baz denies there was a sectarian element to the attacks. Instead, he believes that there were
materialistic and financial motives involved. He also criticizes what he considered to be the
monks’ allegations that they were targeted because they are Copts.”
“Al-Dustūr of June 13, 2008 quoted Jeffrey Fleishman’s article in the Los Angeles Times
published under the headline, ’A frail pope and sectarian tensions,’ in which he discussed a
number of the sectarian incidents that have taken place recently. [To read Fleishman’s article in
full see: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/babylonbeyond/2008/06/egypt-a-frail-p.html]”
279. Ishaq Ibrahim, “Watani talks to Islamic thinker Jamal al-Banna: Copts under an Islamic
majority,” Watani International in Arab-West Report, Week 24, Art 16, June 15, 2008. URL:
It is also not acceptable that the minority challenges the will of the majority. It should be
added here that Copts used not to challenge the State. Even when they were dealt
injustices they showed no resistance because they were convinced that they would find
compensation in one way or another. For instance, when Copts are denied the right to
occupy government posts they direct their attention to commerce and land ownership, so
they now control 30 per cent of the Egyptian economy although they account for only ten
per cent of the population.
“Let us admit a fact: embassies and foreign companies prefer Copts to Muslims. Positions are not
the most important thing, because the economy and arts are open to everybody. Among the
richest men in the world there are three Copts.”
Q: What sources did you depend upon to prove that Copts control the economy?
“It comes from Samira Bahr’s book Copts in Egyptian Political Life. She indicated that 40 per
cent of professors of medicine were Copts. In the Ministry of Finance, 60 per cent of employees
are Copts. They own 20 per cent of land and construction companies [Editor AWR: those
percentages might have been valid in the 1930s but they are unlikely for today]. But in general, I
think that fanaticism by both sides is the core of the problem.”
Q: How do you explain the growing fanaticism in Egyptian society?
“There are many factors. I think the lack of freedoms is the source of all political and religious
ills. Take the instance of conversion. If a Muslim converts to Christianity because he wants to
migrate to Canada, Muslims consider such an attitude an offence against their religion. The same
could be said if a Copt converts to Islam to marry a Muslim woman. I believe that adults are
entitled to choose their religion, because the freedom of belief is one of the basic human rights. It
is guaranteed by the Qu’ran.”
280. Cornelis Hulsman, “Editorial,” Arab-West Report, Week 13, Art 1, July 3, 2008. URL:
“Hulsman comments on the recent ENAWU launch, and points to a number of articles on
houses of worship in this issue.
Dr. Mustafá al-Shak‘ah’s claim that there is an international program to build a large number of
churches is unfounded. Copts in Egypt would no doubt wish that to be true. His claim about the
number of churches in Heliopolis is an extreme exaggeration but shows emotion. His claims
that Copts occupy 50 percent of the leading positions (how defined? al-Shak‘ah does not
explain) is equally untrue. Copts are underrepresented in the highest government positions but
one finds a relatively large number of Coptic businessmen but that certainly does not justify his
Dr. Mustafá al-Shak‘ah is certainly right to assert that “Coptic demands should be reasonable
and correspond to how many Copts there are.” Copts generally exaggerate their numbers.
Both Copts and Muslims as Dr. Mustafá al-Shak‘ah, would greatly help the discussion if they
would refrain from emotional exaggerations or other claims that cannot be backed up by facts.”
281. Jamal As‘ad, “Bishop Bishuy and the return of the era of martyrs,” Al-Dustūr in Arab-
West Report, Week 23, Art 21, July 4, 2008. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
The author does not deny that Copts have problems, asserting that they must be solved within the
framework of the national community. He believes some expatriate Copts are trying to divide the
region on a sectarian basis according to an American agenda such as what happened in Lebanon.
Some Copts inside Egypt support what the author calls the "sectarian solution" through a
newspaper circulated by and inside the Coptic Orthodox church (Editor: that can only be a
reference to al-Kitiba Tibiya). Some clergymen have revealed direct and indirect links with this
agenda through their relationship with international non-governmental organizations. These
clergymen exploit the weakness of the regime, the attempts of the latter to court the United
States and sectarian incidents against the Copts. The clergymen use these circumstances to break
the arm of the regime in order to entrench the idea that the church is the only representative of
the Copts and that Pope Shenouda is their political leader.
He attacks Bishop Bīshūy for his interview with the al- isr a -Yawm daily on May 24. He
believes the bishop is misusing the pope’s trust. In the interview, he said that the abolition of
denominational Councils was a big mistake and they must return. He also said that if the state
thinks that Pope Shenouda is the only obstacle in its way, this is not true because there are 80
bishops who are "mines" of steadfastness and struggle.
Jamāl As‘ad fears that the Coptic era of martyrs might return. He also said that if the court
proved that what happened in Qinā governorate was wrong and that its Christian governor, Majdī
Ayyūb, unlawfully demolished the monastery, they will call for his dismissal. He called for the
appointment of 40 Copts in the People’s Assembly in line with their proportion in Egypt. He
supports the nomination of Jamāl Mubārak for presidency and said that he will be happy if Copts
supported his opinion. He declared that there is a program in the churches to conduct a census of
Copts in Egypt.
The author questions whether Bishop Bīshūy wants, through his call for the return of
denominational councils, to create rifts between Egyptians and to try Copts before these councils
as it was during the occupation. He questions why the bishop mentions the era of martyrs when
Copts were defending their faith. He indicates that the wall which was demolished was
unlawfully built on agricultural land owned by a bishop’s driver and that governor Majdī Ayyūb
has nothing to do with this issue. The wall was demolished under a decision issued by the
Directorate of Agriculture.
The author believes Bishop Bīshūy is interfering in politics and entrenching sectarianism which
will harm the Church and the Copts. He remind the bishop that Egypt is not Lebanon and the
church’s only role is spiritual not political.
282. Salih al-Qallab, “Without Christians, there would be no such thing as ‘the East’,” a a
al-Da in Arab-West Report, Week 27, Art 18, July 6, 2008. URL:
If this migration continues, the region will witness intolerable hardships quite irrelevant to the
merciful teachings of Islam. Lamenting migration from Egypt, Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon.
283. Nadin Qinawi and ‘Amr Bayyumi, “Copt feels humiliated if described as Arab: Bishop
tells symposium,” A - i r a -Yawm in Arab-West Report, Week 29, Art 50, July 20, 2008.
This article is a comment on a lecture of Bishop Thomas, see: AWR, 2008, week 38, art. 27 with
a comment in art. 1. According to the authors bishop Thomas’ lecture was "A cry to help the
Egyptian Copts continue residence in their homeland and prevent their migration." Bishop
Thomas said the two processes of Arabization and Islamization are the largest obstructions
facing the Christian community in Egypt.
284. ‘Antar ‘Abd al-Latif, “Pope Shenouda’s state vs. Mubarak’s state,” a t a -Ummah in
Arab-West Report, Week 32, Art 28, August 4, 2008. URL:
Coptic politician Jamāl As‘ad comments on the Coptic/Muslim interpretation of Egyptian history
that may inadvertently be increasing sectarian strife and the American-Zionist scheme to divide
the Arab region on a sectarian basis. This, together with government practices, terrorism and the
church speaking on behalf of the Copts, contributed to the migration of many Copts. As’ad says
that Coptic activists like Michael Munīr and ‘Adlī Abādīr use the problems of the Copts only to
285. Kamal Murad, Ahmad ‘Abd al-Jalil, “Copts electoral card in Bar Association race,” Al-
Fajr in Arab West Report, Week 35, Art 34, August 25, 2008. URL:
“Kamāl Murād and Ahmad ‘Abd al-Jalīl (no further details mentioned) said the Coptic lawyers’
bloc comprises 10 percent of the whole institution (Egypt’s Bar Association). It is, therefore, an
effective electoral faction and all nominees seek their support. Even the Muslim Brotherhood
group puts a Coptic nominee on its list.
Ramzī said contenders always seek Copts’ support because they are 35,000 in number (Editor: is
this number accurate? One usually needs to be cautious when claims involving numbers are
286. Robeir al- Faris, “Oh Egypt, Where are you heading to?” Watani International in Arab-
West Report, Week 35, Art 35, August 31, 2008. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
Mustafa al-Fiqi, Head of the international relations committee in Parliament, stated in a t a -
UmmahThat Copts re not persecuted. According to Dr Fiqi, Mubarak’s time is the golden era for
Copts. "The Coptic file is being handled with absolute transparency," he said (Editor AWR:
transparency? Why then is it practically impossible to obtain a list of permits given for churches
to be build or restored? Of course there are also other examples showing lack of transparency).
Al-Fiqi provides arguments and al-Faris disputes them.
a t a -Ummah asked whether Copts were a minority in Egypt, to which Dr Fiqi reiterated his
unsubstantiated claim that Copts numbered 10 per cent of the population and owned 30 per cent
of Egypt’s national wealth. Reading Dr Fiqi would make one think that the number of Copts was
known. while the fact is there is no official figure on this number; it is one of the best kept State
secrets (Editor AWR: this is not true, figures can be obtained from the CAPMAS, Copts are
skeptical of CAPMAS’ figures but these are certainly not state secrets). When asked about this
figure, the supervisor of Egypt’s most recent census which was held in 2006 said: "Ask about
anything except this figure which gives us a headache." At the time, Watani commented: "Three
guesses anyone why the headache?"
287. “Egypt without minorities,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab-West Report, Week 36, Art 28,
September 1, 2008. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2008/week-36/28-egypt-
The author claims ”that, as Islam grew, minorities started feeling excluded from their country,
leaving their jobs in the public sector and focusing on the private sector,” and claims “that,
according to the 2006 census, Christians now represent only 6 percent of the entire population.”
CH: It is uncertain on what these claims are based since the census of 2006 did not present any
figures of Christians in Egypt.
The author then points out that, if this trend does not change, there would be no more Christians
in Egypt within 25 years or less, adding that this would be a catastrophe since this would be the
“end of this civilized history,” and harm the image of equality between people of different
religions in Egypt. “Losing these minorities could destroy this bridge while Israel is building
more and stronger bridges with the West.” The author is asking for “grass-roots efforts and
governmental awareness and a precise plan to avoid this catastrophe.”
288. Hāshim Sālih, “Arab Christians, and the Enlightenment,” A -Sharq a -A sa in Arab-
West Report, Week 36, Art 22, September 4, 2008. URL:
Prince Talāl Ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azīz called through al-Nahār newspaper to save Arab Christians and
urge them not to migrate as their countries need them.
289. ‘Amr Bayyumi and Rajab Ramadan, “Pope Shenouda: There are 12 million Christians in
Egypt. The church knows the size of its population and we do not agree with the declared
figure,” A - i r a -Yawm in Arab-West Report, Week 44, Art 40, October 27, 2008. URL:
Pope Shenouda states that the Christian population in Egypt is 12 million. He said to CTV
Satellite channel yesterday that the church knows the size of its population and does not agree
with the figure the state provided.
290. Sharif Dawakhli, Ibrahim al-Tayyib, “Long live the crescent ‘or’ the cross!” Al-Dustūr in
Arab West Report, Week 44, Art 3, October 28, 2008. URL:
“The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) published its quarterly report on freedom of
religion and belief in Egypt (Reviewer: See
www.eipr.org/en/reports/FRB_quarterly_rep_jul08_en/0408.htm). The report sheds light on the
latest developments in freedom of religion and belief in Egypt from July to September, 2008.
The EIPR report observes an expansion in the acts of violence and sectarian tensions which it
says extend from Shubrā al-Khaymah in Greater Cairo, to Atfīh in Giza, through Naj‘ Hammādī
in Qinā, al-Fishn in Banī Suwayf, Samallūt and Millūy in al-Miniā.
The forceful intervention by the security apparatus to prevent the illegal restoration works of
churches was also documented in this report. Furthermore, a number of freedom-of-religion-
related judicial cases were demonstrated. As for the sectarian tension incidents, the report named
291. Abu al-‘Ila Madi, “Your Holiness the pope, Christians number five million and not 12!”
a t a -Ummah in Arab-West Report, Week 45, Art 36, November 3, 2008. URL:
Abu al-‘Ila Madi suggests “that the British forces and individuals were counted with the
Christians of Egypt in all of the censuses that were conducted under the British occupation since
1917.” Abu al-‘Ila Madi states that the proportion of Christians today is around 6 percent. He
refers to Egyptian and Arab sources like ’Atlas Ma‘lūmāt al-‘Ālam al-‘Arabī’ (Atlas of
Information about the Arab World) by Philip Khārij and Rafīq al-Bustānī.
292. Samir Marqus, “Christians of the East: absent and disappearing,” A - i r a -Yawm in
Arab-West Report, Week 45, Art 21, November 4, 2008. URL:
The dwindling number of Christians left in the Middle East is cause for grave concern. Samīr
Marqus addresses the reasons behind this emigration and calls on all citizens of the Middle East
to reverse this trend. In 1998 the Lebanese newspaper al-Nahār published a supplement entitled
‘Stop the migration of Eastern Christians’.
Marqus wonders why it is that Christians in the region feel threatened. He questions whether it is
related to the rise of political Islamic movements that have reviewed the legal status of non-
Muslims or whether it is related to the existence of totalitarian regimes or whether it is actually a
result of poor decisions on the part of the Christians themselves?
It is of great importance “for everyone to recognize that there is a serious problem,” and that
there are insufficient mechanisms in place to promote pluralism. Christians can voluntarily leave
the public sphere but they could also be forced to leave and excluded or marginalized if the
concept of citizenship is lacking. Marqus quotes the thinker Muhammad Sīd Ahmad who stated
that “the Arab silence on Christian emigration is a weapon that Arabs are inflicting on
293. Khalid Isma‘il, “The war will be between the following parties: National, Coptic and
Brotherhood Parties and there will be no place for neither Liberals nor Socialists!” Al-Dustūr
in Arab West Report, Week 46, Art 4, November 12, 2008. URL:
“The role that different political parties play in Egypt will be crucial to shaping the political
future of the country. In this article Khālid Isma‘īl is pessimistic about the role the opposition
[…] the only two existing parties representing the opposition are the Muslim Brotherhood
and the Coptic parties [Editor AWR: there are no Coptic political parties in Egypt but Pope
Shenouda does have political influence and a large number of Copts support this] while each
has its own confrontation with the National Democratic Party. In the context of the hidden
war between the National Democratic Party and the Coptic party, Pope Shenouda, back from
his medical trip to the U.S, declared the real number of Copts in Egypt is 12 million; double
the number declared by the National Democratic Party.”
294. Cornelis Hulsman and Sawsan Gabra, “Muslim-Christian tensions around the Monastery
of Abu Fana in context,” Arab-West Report, Week 52, Art 12, November 15, 2008. URL:
I believe that the emigration of Christians from the Arab world harms the ideal of pluralist
societies. It is important to be aware of both Coptic statistics as well as the reasons for the
ongoing migration of Christians from the Arab World. Philippe Fargues, a French statistician
who did much research into studying the numerical decline of Arab Christianity calls statistics
counting. What we have so far in Egypt is church estimates of the number of Christians as
opposed to the counting carried out by Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics
[CAPMAS], the government office that is responsible for the 10-yearly census. The differences
are stark; with church leaders providing estimates between 10 percent and 20 percent of
population and CAPMAS and French statistical research providing a figure of around 6 percent,
a decline from 8 percent in the 1920s. Pope Shenouda asked all bishops to provide him with
statistics of the number of Christians in their respective dioceses and recently stated that
Christians make up 12 percent of the population but we do not know how that calculation was
made and we thus have statements that are not verifiable. Authorities in Egypt, whether church,
state or Muslim organizations generally all want their word to be final. The general public is
supposed to accept things because they say so and that satisfies most Egyptians but I want to see
evidence. I want to see how Pope Shenouda has come by this percentage. Thus far the church has
not made it possible for independent researchers to verify their claims. CAPMAS, however, did
show French researchers how they came by their numbers. With the current data available I
believe the conclusions of the French statisticians about the number of Christians in Egypt are
the closest to reality. In other words Christians in Egypt and Coptic migrants in the West
generally overestimate their numbers.
Why do Christians emigrate? I have met and spoken with hundreds of Christians who have
emigrated and there are a combination of factors involved: escaping violence or fear of violence,
better economic opportunities in the West, family and friends who emigrated before them and
who encourage others to follow, greater freedom opportunities, living in societies that are not
dominated by Islam, better prospects for their children. Some of these factors apply to Muslims
as well but it remains highly remarkable that an estimated 70 percent of all Egyptians emigrating
to a Western country are Christian. If around 6 percent of the Egyptian population is Christian
and 70 percent of Egyptians emigrating to the West is Christians then emigration is a major
factor reducing the percentage of Christians living in Egypt.
The Coptic Orthodox Church has witnessed a great revival since the 1950s, increasing the
numbers of monks and priests and reviving monasteries as Abū Fānā are just some of the fruits
of this revival. I support that revival but believe it should not be only inwardly oriented but
should take into consideration the fact that Christians are a numerical minority in a
predominantly Muslim society and thus Christians would benefit from taking into account the
concerns of the Muslim majority in sensitive issues. By acting in this way Metropolitan
Athanasius of Beni Suef, bishop from 1964-2000, was able to double the number of churches in
his diocese without disrupting social peace. He avoided tall church spires when needed, visited
Christians and Muslims on pastoral visits in the area, and managed to be both a great spiritual
leader and a diplomat. For me he is an example of how church revival and avoiding tensions with
Muslims can go hand in hand. Revival, however, that results in tensions spurs emigration and in
the long run will be self-defeating.
If we want to support a pluralist society in Egypt we need to work toward reducing the factors
that result in emigration. That is reducing tensions, improving economic opportunities and
promoting greater freedoms. The focus of this lecture is Muslim-Christian tensions and therefore
I want to focus on this. I strongly disagree with those Christians who primarily put the blame for
tensions on Islam and Muslims. These are people who claim that Islam is inherently violent.
Islam is not. Goddard’s ’Muslim Perceptions of Christianity’ highlights the differences in
Muslim interpretations of Muslim scriptures; some are indeed not very friendly about Christians,
a small number are even outright aggressive, some are very positive about Christians and a great
majority of authors represent a middle-of-the road view; more concerned with internal
discussions in Islam than in a dialogue with Christians.
295. Basma William, Muhammad Munir, “First Coptic woman mayor,” Watani International
in Arab West Report, Week 47, Art 32, November 23, 2008. URL:
“William writes about the first female mayor in Egypt, who is also a Copt.
For the first time in the history of Upper-Egypt, a Christian female woman has been
appointed as a mayor in one of the villages of Assiut and was supported not only by
Christians but by Muslims as well.
Kombouha has a population of 10,000 residents, 95 per cent of whom are Christian. It is a
thriving trade centre, and enjoys high levels of education especially among girls.”
CH (May 2012): Watani International has translated the Arabic word “umdah” as “mayor”
but I think village head would have been a better translation. There are more (but not many)
Copts who are village heads.
296. Khalid al-Kaylani, “Christians number five million in Egypt and not 12 as Pope
Shenouda states,” a t a -Ummah in Arab-West Report, Week 48, Art 34, November 24,
2008. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2008/week-48/34-christians-number-five-
Dr. Mukhtār Hallūdah, former chairman of the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and
Statistics says "He [Pope Shenouda] does not have the authority to do so; for the census is the
state’s authority, and the law prohibits any other institution from conducting the census.” About
the proportion of Christians he says Pope Shenouda’s “number cannot be correct, because
Christians comprised six to seven percent of the Egyptian population at the time of the British
occupation and the percentage is more likely to decrease than increase. Egypt’s population is 80
million this year, consequently it is impossible that the number of Christians is more than five
million citizens," answered Hallūdah.
297. Michael Faris, “Churches became emigration centers,” a t a -Ummah in Arab West
Report, Week 49, Art 33, December 1, 2008. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“What was published on some websites about the fact that almost 700,000 Copts have applied
for emigration aroused reactions against the church accusing it of encouraging the youth to leave
It is a fact that every church has a center that is responsible for receiving emigration applications
with minimal fees. The number of Copts who want to emigrate surpasses the number of Muslim
due to the encouragement Copts get from the church, which is keen to offer language classes at
its centers (Editor: language classes are not just to prepare youth for emigration as it seems to be
presented but language classes help youth generally to obtain better paid jobs). Young people
who apply for emigration through the church said they do so because they trust the religious
foundation and how it is welcomed abroad especially after the September 11 attacks.
Georgette Qillīnī, Member of Parliament, said that the desire to emigrate is not limited to
Christians alone. An evidence for this, she added, is that the number of Muslims in New York
exceeds that of Christians.”
298. Cornelis Hulsman, “Interview with Dr. Philippe Fargues about Coptic Statistics,” Arab-
West Report, Week 52, Art 7, December 20, 2008. URL:
Interview with Dr. Philippe Fargues, a researcher and professor at the American University of
Cairo, who has investigated the complicated issue of Christian statistics in Egypt. Fargues has no
confidence of claims of Coptic leaders, including Pope Shenouda, about the proportion of
Christians in Egypt since their claims are not verifiable and the church has no structure to do
proper population research.
299. Cornelis Hulsman, “Interview with Samih Fawzi about Muslim-Christian relations in
Egypt,” Arab-West Report, Week 52, Art 8, December 20, 2008. URL:
“We lack empirical studies, deep interviews, studies on the Egyptian community, Christian
Egyptian communities outside, to know precisely why they emigrated there. Did they emigrate
for economic reasons or for religious reasons or political reasons?”
MN (May 2012): Or most likely a mix?
300. Cornelis Hulsman, “Interview with Dr. Amin Makram ‘Ubayd about addressing
fanaticism,” Arab-West Report, Week 52, Art 16, December 20, 2008. URL:
Dr. Amin Makram argues that the Copts should serve the country by becoming the bridge
between the Arab World and the West, which he says they should be blamed for not being. He
makes a comparison to the Israel/Palestine conflict: “when the Palestinian problem arose when
the Israeli state was created; the conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis was a conflict
between two peoples. It was one that had to do with nationalities. Unfortunately it has been
gradually transformed into a religious war, Jews against Muslims and that is very sad so he
(Charles Sennot author of the book: ‘The Body and the Blood’) made a comment that the number
[of Christians] as calculated by the census of the Ottomans was 25% at the beginning of 20th
century and it declined to somewhere between 2.5% and 5%.”
301. Muhammad Mazin, “Coptic lawyer calls for an international census for Copts and
threatens to sue the government if it does not respond,” Al-Maydā in Arab-West Report,
Week 52, Art 65, December 24, 2008. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
Coptic lawyer Mamdūh Nakhlah asked the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to call for the
help of an international institution to carry out a census of the number of Copts in Egypt. Māzin
reports that the demand created considerable controversy amongst the Egyptian public due to the
contradictions between the number declared by the church and that by the Egyptian government.
Nakhlah declared that his demand seeks to put an end to the current controversy in this response
(Editor: nonsense. Nakhlah is probably not aware of the work of researchers like Philippe
Fargues who has checked the census figures of the CAPMAS).
The Coptic Orthodox Church has declared that Copts comprise 15.3 percent of the Egyptian
population (about 15 million of Egypt’s 79 million people). However, the last census conducted
by the Central Agency for Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS,
www.capmas.gov.eg/bohose_tabea_dept.htm) conducted in 2006 did not mention the
demographic distribution of the different religions in Egypt. However, government sources assert
that Copts comprise no more than 2.7 million, namely 3.45 per cent (Editor: where does this
percentage come from? The CAPMAS figure is expected to be around 5,5%).
Bishop Marqus, head of the information office in the Coptic Orthodox Church, asserted that the
church did not know about Nakhlah’s call, stating that the church rejects any Western
interference in national issues. Bishop Marqus further declared that the church did not want to
know the actual number of Copts and did not care about what the government declares in this
response because the church knows the actual number of Copts through an “accurate” census
conducted by the church itself.
Muhammad Munīr, founder of Egyptians Against Discrimination warned about the
consequences of resorting to international help in this issue and stressed the importance of
cooperation in civil society to bring about more effective ways to put pressure on officials to
reveal the real number of Copts.
(Reviewer: Similar news was reported in Al-Fajr of December 22, 2008, p. 12)
302. Nader Shukry, “Never a culprit caught,” Watani International in Arab West Report,
Week 52, Art 44, December 28, 2008. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“The article provides a list of places in Egypt that have witnessed sectarian attacks against
Copts in the last year. However even though the Egyptian Constitution promotes citizenship
principles the rule of law seems to be largely absent when it comes to sectarian disputes.
The year 2008 witnessed no less than 20 incidents of sectarian violence. In one case only was
a man convicted: Khamees Eid of Dafash, Minya, who was accused of murdering the Copt
Milad Farag Ibrahim, was handed a suspended sentence of one year in prison despite the fact
that he had admitted his crime.”
303. Cornelis Hulsman, “Disappointing report from the Religious Liberty Group of the World
Evangelical Alliance,” Arab-West Report, Week 52, Art 5, December 31, 2008. URL:
“We received this text which was published in the Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin, No.
499, Wed 08 Oct 2008, from Prof. Dr. Bernhard Reitsma of the Free University of
Amsterdam with a request to respond.
RLPB: Most of Egypt’s 10 percent Christian minority are Copts, the indigenous people of
CH: The statement is presented as if Copts are an ethnic group, which is wrong. The word
Copt comes from the Greek Aegyptos, which means Egyptian. There are Orthodox Copts,
Catholic Copts and Evangelical Copts. They are all Egyptians and are thus all Copts.
There is a tendency to associate the name Copt with Coptic Orthodox as though the Coptic
Orthodox is the only Egyptian Christians and Catholics and Protestants are not.
Such a tendency is wrong and unfair toward the non-Orthodox Coptic Christians in Egypt.
The great majority of Coptic Christians are Coptic Orthodox and they probably make up 95%
of the total Christian population in Egypt. The non-Coptic Christians are Greek Orthodox and
Armenian Orthodox but their communities are very small and only number a few thousand.
Research by French statistician Dr. Philippe Fargues and others has convincingly shown on
the basis of verifiable research that around 6% of Egypt’s population is Christian, not 10%.
Most Egyptian Christians do not want to accept that figure since it undermines claims about
church building and the number of Christians in top government positions but the fact is that
the church has thus far only produced estimates and not figures that could be counted and
304. Cornelis Hulsman, “Rev. Menes Abdel Nur responding to “Christian activists’
contributions to Christian migration from the Arab world; can Christianity survive in the
Arab world?” Arab-West Report, Week 52, Art 7, December 31, 2008. URL:
Rev. Menes Abdel Nur, “Some people leave Egypt to go to a free country, but we have noticed
that those who have left Egypt have escaped problems…but they have found in the countries
they emigrated to different kinds of problems.” People lie in order to be able to emigrate.
305. Cornelis Hulsman, “Bishop Marqus responding to “Christian activists’ contributions to
Christian migration from the Arab world; can Christianity survive in the Arab world?” Arab-
West Report, Week 52, Art 8, December 31, 2008. URL:
Bishop Marcos: “there are between 10 and 11 million in Egypt now. And we have about two
million people abroad.” In response to Philippe Fargues skepticism about church records the
bishop answers “each diocese has its own records. I myself have them.”
306. Cornelis Hulsman, “Bishop Qultah responding to “Christian activists’ contributions to
Christian migration from the Arab world; can Christianity survive in the Arab world?” Arab-
West Report, Week 52, Art 9, December 31, 2008. URL:
Bishop Qultah: “The reasons for emigration are not religious, they are economic. Muslims
emigrate just as Christians do. All the youth wants to leave. These people emigrate because there
is no vision, no future, no dreams about the future, so why stay in Egypt? Cornelis do not forget
that Christians want to emigrate to Europe and the majority of Muslims want to emigrate to the
Gulf. There are four million Egyptians in the Gulf countries.”
“The majority of Muslims are persecuted and, like us Copts, they are subject to injustice. We
Copts have a Coptic perspective of the situation. All lower social classes are subject to injustice.
However, this is clearer amongst Copts because besides injustice, they suffer from trivialization
in society. Copts cannot express themselves in similar ways as Muslims do. Moreover, the
majority of Egyptians are marginalized by the wealthy elite and the state.”
307. Cornelis Hulsman, “Editorial,” Arab-West Report, Week 48, Art 1, January 6, 2008.
I agree with Dr. Mukhtār Hallūdah, former chairman of the Central Agency for Public
Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), that Coptic Christians number around five million and
not twelve as Pope Shenouda recently claimed [art. 34, 24 Nov 2008]. We recently interviewed
French statistician Dr. Philippe Fargues who believes that CAPMAS’s numbers are much closer
to the truth. A transcript of this interview is being made and will be placed in AWR soon. I,
however, disagree with Dr. Mukhtār Hallūdah’s statement that Pope Shenouda does not have the
right to conduct a census since this is solely the state’s authority. In my view any religious
organization should be able to count its own members but the methods should be made public so
that people are able to verify the claims that are being made. Hallūdah’s view is the reflection of
a very authoritarian state.
308. Michael Faris, “We asked Butrus Ghali to nominate five names for Egypt’s rule and he
escaped with a loud laugh!” a t a -Ummah in Arab West Report, Week 3, Art 23, January
19, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2009/week-3/23-we-asked-butrus-
“Q: Until now freedom of "conscience" is not recognized in Egypt; a court decision has ruled
that a dash be put in front of the religion box for Bahā’īs. Is Egypt still a backward country?
A: 52% of people are not part of the three heavenly religions. There are around 100 Bahā’īs in
Egypt. So if we deny them their rights it will be a great violation of human rights. They should
have all their civil and political rights; they are part of society.
Q: Pope Shenouda has declared that the number of Copts in Egypt is 12 million and some
Muslim intellectuals say that there are only five million. What is the truth about these
contradictory figures? And are Copts in Egypt a minority group that should be treated like
minorities in Europe?
A: The number of Copts is not important; even if there is only one Copt, his/her rights are equal
to those of Muslims. Copts are equal to Muslims.”
309. Cornelis Hulsman, “Interview with Munir Fakhri ‘Abd al-Nur,” Arab-West Report, Week
3, Art 2, January 21, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2009/week-3/2-
Interview with Munīr Fakhrī ‘Abd al-Nūr, who discusses Christian emigration from Egypt and
the number of Copts in Egypt, among other topics. “The number of Christians that are
considering emigrating is very large, but so is the number of Muslims who are trying to emigrate
out of Egypt, because of the lack of jobs, because of the economic situation, because of the lack
of opportunities, whatever the reasons are. I am not sure about the decline in figures or the
percentage, in the absence of a reliable census I am not sure.”
Copts “are subject to discrimination in many areas, all this is correct but this does not mean that
Christianity in Egypt will be wiped out and this does not mean that the percentage of Christians
in Egypt has declined from 11 to 5 percent, this is absolutely not correct. It is extremely
dangerous to use this kind of incorrect figures, when Copts say that we are today at least eleven
or twelve percent of the population. The number of Copts today in Egypt ranges from between at
least eight and ten million. It gives us strength to ask for our rights and our place in society and
in the political and economic life of the country. But when you wrongly claim that the
percentage has declined from eleven percent to six percent, it can only harm and jeopardize our
position and our claim to have rights that we don’t have. I totally reject this not only on a
statistical basis but also on a logical or political basis.”
310. Tariq Al-Shami, “How many Muslims are there in Egypt?” Al-Dustūr in Arab-West
Report, Week 5, Art 20, February 1, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
The author wrote that his and the readers’ ignorance about how many Muslims there are in Egypt
is not his or their fault. Rather, it is the result of a deliberate policy adopted by the government
for many years. It is a policy of concealing facts and information. He does not understand why
the government and its bodies would conceal this information from society. This attitude could
harm society as a whole. In that way, it opens the door for guesses from parties inside Egypt and
abroad. The estimates are based on the percentage of the Copts to the Muslims in Egypt, which
in turn are based on the censuses conducted at beginning of the twentieth century. Based on this
percentage, Egypt has 6 or 7 million Copts. Meanwhile, in foreign reports, the figure rises to 9 or
10 million. Coptic human rights activists estimate that the number is over 15 million Copts.
The author added that it is almost the same contradiction in the available information on Bahā’ī
numbers. The number ranges from 2000 people to over 17000 people or even more. The only
available estimate for Jews is 97 people.
He added that in such confusion, it is impossible to know whether there are over 70 million
Muslims or if there are 67 million or if there are just 62 million. The state is afraid of human
rights claims if it made the numbers of the minorities in Egypt available.
He added that we do not even know the budgets of a number of the ministries. Meanwhile, the
civilized peoples of Europe and the U.S not only know the budgets of their governments and
how the financial resources are used, but also discuss and amend the budgets.
Although the National Democratic Party (NDP) declared that it developed in the last conferences
a proposal on the freedom (right) of access to information to be adopted by the government and
ratified by the People’s Assembly (Egyptian parliament). Yet, the proposal was never finished
for reasons only known to the National Democratic Party and the government.
He concluded that the state is not serious about adopting a transparent policy. The reason is that
access to information leads to accountability, which leads to trials and possibly ends in prison
sentences. Therefore, the government has avoided the hassle.
311. “American ’Open Doors’ puts Egypt 21th out of 50 states that persecute Christians,” Al-
Dustūr in Arab West Report, Week 6, Art 22, February 9, 2009. URL:
Al-Dustūr presents Open Doors as an American organization interested in Christian issues in the
world (Editor: Open Doors was founded in The Netherlands. Later a sister organization was
founded in the US). The organization ranked Egypt 21st on the list of countries that persecute
Christians. The organization’s report does not present Egypt as a country that completely denies
Copts’ rights, but as a country that imposes strong restrictions on Copts’ freedom of creed.
312. Muhammad al-Baz, “Your hordes Bishop Bishuy,” Al-Fajr in Arab West Report, Week 7,
Art 33, February 16, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2009/week-7/33-your-
“In the third episode of his serialized interview with al-Bāz, Bishop Bīshūy speaks about his
views concerning other Christian denominations and other local issues.
In his interview with al-Bāz Bishop Bīshūy clarified his point, stating that his stance against
some Christian denominations was mainly because of some American missionaries that
preache Zionist Christianity in Egypt. He stated that such missionary groups come to Egypt not
to convert Muslims, but Christians of other denominations. He stated that his statements were
interpreted by Rev. Rif‘at Fikrī, a protestant pastor as being against Protestantism.
Responding to a question about other Christian denominations’ accusations against him, Bishop
Bīshūy stated that they are against him because of his strict stances on certain ideas. He
elaborated that a large and influential Christian denomination in Egypt (Reviewer: No name
mentioned) was preaching that heathens will be saved. According to Bishop Bīshūy, this is
enough to destroy not only Christianity but all other religions. Tackling more national Egyptian
issues, Bishop Bīshūy spoke about the number of Copts in Egypt, stating that no one knows the
real number of Copts in Egypt, and the figures that are announced are mere guesses (Editor:
interesting statement following Pope Shenouda’s statement that Egypt’s Christians make up
12% of Egyptian population –See AWR 2008 week 35 article 16 for Pope Shenouda’s
statement and AWR 2008 week 45 article 36 and week 48 article 34 for more information on
313. Nadir Shukri, “The governor of Minia inaugurates a church and a mosque at the same
time,” a a in Arab West Report, Week 8, Art 21, February 22, 2009. URL:
“The governor of Minia inaugurated a church and a mosque on the same day in Samallut.
The village of Banī Ghanī in Samallūt has enjoyed a unique experience as the villagers sent an
invitation to the governor of Minia, Ahmad Diyā’ al-Dīn to celebrate the inauguration of the
Evangelical church and al-Wastānī mosque on the same day. The population of the village is
estimated at 10000 people, with Muslims representing 60 percent of that and Christians
representing the other 40 percent. The celebration took place away from any sectarian violence
that often leads to local conflicts during the inauguration of new churches or service buildings.”
314. Hani Samir, Tariq ‘Abbas and Muhamad Sayf, „What would you do in a country where
sectarian strife is ignited, the killed and wounded fall and the cross and crescent fight because
of “eye lashes and flirtation?" Al-Dustūr in Arab-West Report, Week 10, Art 10, March 11,
2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2009/week-10/10-what-would-you-do-
Many sectarian incidents are caused by male/female relations between Muslims and Christians.
Several examples were given. The authors stated that Christians comprise six percent of the
Egyptian population according to the official state census. Authors believe that there are other
factors that render the issue even more complicated through the effect of elements of sectarian
strife in Egyptian society through foreign bodies and missionary groups. They also referred to
conversion and mixed Muslim-Christian marriages as other factors that add to the
complexity of the issue.
315. ‘Abd al-Hamid al-Ansari, “The ordeal of religious minorities in Arab societies,” a a
al-Da in Arab-West Report, Week 11, Art 15, March 15, 2009. URL:
The author states that the sufferings of religious and factional minorities in Arab countries will
result in emigration. Christians in Iraq, Jews in Yemen, Bahā’īs and Shī‘ah minorities are
mentioned. Throughout Islamic history, religious and factional minorities have lived in safety
and protection. What changed this? What is the benefit of the dozens conferences on the
importance of interfaith dialogues Arab countries hold?
CH: Egypt is not mentioned in this article but since this was published in an Egyptian publication
Egyptian readers cannot have missed that this message concerned also Egypt.
316. Hani Samir, “‘How, and for how long?’ a movie on the Web ends with Pope Shenouda’s
tears for Coptic victims in the Mubarak era,” Al-Dustūr in Arab West Report, Week 11, Art
24, March 15, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2009/week-11/24-how-and-
Copts in the United States have broadcast their film protesting about the discrimination against
Copts in Egypt. The film shows a photograph of a report entitled ’Copts’ harvest in the Mubārak
age’ in which it states that Copts comprise 20 percent of the Egyptian population (Editor: this is
nonsense. See previous comment in AWR, in particular a comment of French scholar Dr.
Philippe Fargues, AWR, 2008, Week52, Art. 18) but they have got no freedom to build houses of
worship or occupy key governmental and public positions, unlike Muslims who comprise 80
percent of the Egyptian population and enjoy 100 percent of those rights. (Editor: there are
problems but the statements as presented here are highly exaggerated). The report mentioned the
following statistics: Copts who occupy ministerial positions comprise 6.25 percent of the
population, ambassadors: 0.4 percent, People’s Assembly members: 1.3 percent, judicial
positions: one percent and Copts who join the army and the police force academies make up one
percent of that segment of the population.”
317. ‘Adil Jundi, “The most respected law in the land (original in English, not edited by
AWR),” Watani International in Arab West Report, Week 12, Art 11, March 22, 2009. URL:
Provides list of churches in Egypt, divided into 1) reparation and 2) New build, by year:
“(It is worth mentioning that the total number of churches in Egypt is 2524, 1319 of which are
Copt Orthodox, and the total number of monasteries in Egypt is 196, 84 of which are Copt
Orthodox. The following tables show that the building and maintenance of churches in Egypt has
not stopped in Egypt (sic.) and that these churches are distributed throughout the country.)”
(Note editor AWR: earlier in the text it is mentioned that the total number of churches in Egypt is
2524 but in this table it is 2456).
The total number of churches and monasteries given in the above table as 2456 is 264 less than
what is mentioned elsewhere in the same letter (2524 churches plus 196 monasteries). Neither
figure matches the IDSC’s report - with a discrepancy up to 646. (Editor AWR: the discrepancy
of numbers is telling for the general inaccuracy of numbers in Egypt.) Also, the stated number of
monasteries appears quite exaggerated. The Coptic Orthodox monasteries must be below 25, not
84; and those of other denominations cannot possibly reach 112. The figures probably include
monasteries in other brotherly Arab countries!
[…] the reported dismal figure of 65 new-church permits in the past ten years hides the fact that
most of the related presidential decrees were actually issued to ‘regularize’ the situation of
churches built decades ago (Editor AWR: true!).
In fact the number of new-church permits in 2006-2007 (a total of THREE, according to the
above table) is indicative of the sad reality. Also, according to reports by EIPR (Egyptian
Initiative for Personal Rights), all the 17 presidential decrees issued in 2008 were, without
exception, related to repair work or to regularization of existing churches.
Incidentally, even if we assume that the real number of decreed permits of ‘new’ churches in the
past ten years was as much as half the given figure of 65- which is a virtually impossible
assumption – it still means a mere total increase of 1.3% in a decade, which is less than the
demographic growth per year.[Editor AWR: one should of course look at the growth of the
number of seats in churches and compare that to demographic growth per year since some
churches may be small and others large but such figures are hard to obtain. Anyhow, even then
the total increase will be lower then the demographic growth per year.
[…] if we consider that the Copts represent just 10% of Egypt’s population, or about 8.5 million,
and since 90% of them belong to the Coptic (Orthodox) Church, we can deduce that there is at
best one church per 5900 persons of that community (Editor AWR: that assumption is incorrect.
A better assumption is 6%, see Philippe Fargues in AWR, 2008, Week 52, Art. 18).
Note also that the Coptic Evangelicals, who make up about 7-8% of the total Copts, are divided
into 18 denominations, each having its own churches, which are often no more than small prayer
On the other hand, Egypt boasts 120,000 mosques (plus about 900,000 prayer halls), of which
100,500 mosques (Al-Ahram, May 1, 2008) are run by the Ministry of (Islamic) Endowments.
This amounts to one mosque per 640 Muslim citizens (or 75 if we include prayer halls)
[…] churches are dealt with in a totally different way from mosques. The simple fact of keeping
track of church repair permits proves the point, since nobody needs to obtain a permit to build,
let alone repair, a mosque.
318. Jamal al-‘Utayfi. “Report by Dr. Jamal al-‘Utayfi on the al- Khankah sectarian events,”
Arab West Report, Week 13, Art 2, April 1, 2009. URL:
“A large number of Copts occupy important positions, especially in the health and
psychological health sectors, where the percentage of Coptic employees exceeds sixty percent,
as they constitute 38 out of 59 employees (according to the data provided by the head of the
city council). The total number of Coptic employees in that center is 111 out of a total of 856
“The number of al-Khankah residents according to the population census published in 1960
was 21863 of whom 615 were Christians. But the data presented to the committee by the city
council state that the number of Christians does not exceed 36 families. The committee
requested a statement from the Central Authority for Public Accounting and Statistics
(CAPMAS) after its head contacted Lieutenant General Jamāl ‘Askar. The reply it received
indicates that in 1966 there were in al-Khankah city 692 Christians, increasing in 1972 to 8.3
[sic] Christians, whereas the total number of Christians in al-Khankah center (city and villages)
in 1966 stood at 2552 increasing in 1972 to 2963.”
“[…] the number of churches existing in Egypt (MTN: according to CAPMAS) is 1442; but the
data provided by the ministry of the interior on the number of churches registered indicates that
there are 500 churches, 286 of which are Coptic. This difference could be due to part of these
churches having been established before the ministry [sic] of interior’s decision in 1934, while
some were built without a presidential decree licensing them having been issued. It also
transpired that the total number of churches for which licenses were issued within the last ten
years were one hundred and twenty seven, of which sixty eight were Coptic Orthodox. Of that
number licenses were issued for twenty-two new churches, while four licenses were issued for
the rebuilding and repair of existing churches, while forty two were considered to be old
(already?) licensed churches.”
“The committee also determined from the information it requested from the Ministry of Social
Affairs that the number of Islamic societies in Egypt is 679 societies, and that the number of
Christian Orthodox societies is 438 societies, all of which, Muslim and Christian, receive
regular annual assistance from the Ministry of Social Affairs of 49290 pounds for the Islamic
societies and 25785 pounds for the Orthodox societies.”
319. Cornelis Hulsman, “Summary with comments on the report by Dr. Jamal al-‘Utayfi on
the al-Khankah Sectarian Events,” Arab-West Report, Week 13, Art 3, April 1, 2009. URL:
Interesting are the population statistics. The number of al-Khankah residents according to
the population census published in 1960 was 21863 of whom 615 were Christians. The
city council, however, stated "that the number of Christians does not exceed 36 families."
The Central Authority for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) stated that in
1966 there were in al-Khankah city 692 Christians whereas the total number of Christians
in al-Khankah center (city and villages) in 1966 stood at 2552 increasing in 1972 to 2963.
In other words the City Council provided a number which was too low but the percentage
of Christians in the area anyhow was small.
CAPMAS stated there were 1442 churches in Egypt but the ministry of the interior
reported 500 registered churches existed. This difference could be due to part of these
churches having been established before the ministry of interior's decision in 1934, or to
the fact that many were built without first obtaining permits and were thus unregistered.
[…] the total number of churches for which licenses were issued within the last ten years
were one hundred and twenty seven, of which sixty eight were Coptic Orthodox. Of that
number licenses were issued for twenty-two new churches, while four licenses were
issued for the rebuilding and repair of existing churches, while forty two were considered
to be existing churches (sometimes of long standing) and were granted licenses.
320. Muhammad Nur, “Jibra’il pretends that Copts’ rights are restricted and calls on Copts to
demonstrate and stage sit-ins,” Ākhir Sā‘ah in Arab West Report, Week 14, Art 35, April 8,
2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2009/week-14/35-jibr257299l-pretends-
The author “claims that there are many Copts who occupy important posts in governmental and
parliamentary bodies. Similarly, he claims that Copts enjoy a strong economic power in Egypt,
referring to three Coptic businessmen; namely, Najīb Sāwīris, Ra’ūf Ghabbūr and Tharwat
Basīlī. He claims that Copts own up to 25 percent of contractors’ companies and 60 percent of
properties in the pharmaceutical and medical sectors. As such, he concludes, Copts “occupy
important financial and economic positions.”
321. Hani Samir, “Bishop Bissenti: the Muslim who sees the country torturing his Christian
neighbor for building a church will most probably deal with him as a second class citizen”,
Al-Dustūr in Arab West Report, Week 15, Art 20, April 15, 2009. URL:
“Bishop Bissenti sheds light on some of the problems facing Copts inside Egypt and asks for
applying the principle of citizenship which is mentioned in the Constitution.
The statistics about the number of Copts are always controversial as the government says there
are eight million while the statements of some churchmen indicate that there are 15 million … so
do you have an approximate number? There are no less than twelve million Copts in Egypt […]
(For more about the number of Copts in Egypt see AWR 2008, Week 52, Article 17)”
322. Robert al-Faris, “When fanaticism takes over,” Watani International in Arab West
Report, Week 16, Art 14, April 19, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“The Katiba al-Tibiya (The Theban Militia), a cultural, research, and publishing society affiliated
to the church of the Holy Virgin in Ezbet al-Nakhl, Cairo, has issued a comprehensive report on
the religious discrimination controversy surrounding the education system in Egypt.
The second section of the report deals with the educational curricula, revealing details of certain
units of the Arabic curriculum across the board. Most units taught as part of the Arabic course
are heavily riddled with verses from the Qur’an. In many instances these verses do not add
anything to the lesson itself, thus indirectly turning them into religion lessons. The report cited as
example the number of units taught in schools in the first term as 126 units, 52 of which contain
religious verses or connotations. All these lessons clearly advocate Islam as the source of all
good and Muslims the best people.”
323. ‘Antar ‘Abd al-Latif, “A book reveals the first census of expatriate Copts and their
relationship with Israel,” a t a -Ummah in Arab-West Report, Week 19, Art 41, May 11,
2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2009/week-19/41-book-reveals-first-
Book review of ‘Aqbāt al-Mahjar; Sudā‘ fī Dimāgh Misr’ (Coptic Expatriates; Egypt’s
Headache) by Muhammad Zayyān. The phenomenon of Coptic expatriates took shape after
expatriate Copts used the “West-originated culture of protest” as a means of expressing
themselves. Zayyān claims there are more than one million Coptic expatriates in the U.S and
Canada, 750.000 Coptic expatriates in Australia in addition to another million distributed in
Europe, New Zealand and South America.
324. Shayma’ ‘Adil, “Statistics: 27 Copts in the parliament in 1942, no Copts in the parliament
in 1957 and three in 2005,” A - i r a -Yawm in Arab West Report, Week 20, Art 44, May
20, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2009/week-20/44-statistics-27-copts-
“The statistics revealed that the highest Coptic representation in the parliament was in 1942
when Copts occupied 27 seats in the People’s Assembly out of a total of 264. The 27 Coptic
members were all elected. However, the lowest representation was in 1957 when Copts were
not at all represented in the parliament. The number of Coptic MPs in 1957 was zero. In the
year 2000, Copts occupied six seats in the Egyptian Parliament; three of them were assigned
and not elected.”
325. Iman Ibrahim, “Copts and politics; a shining history and a reality waiting for reform,” Al-
Jumhūr yah in Arab West Report, Week 21, Art 20, May 24, 2009. URL:
The article provides a list of total number MPs and that of Copts in various different years.
326. Hani Samir, “Arab Christians were off Obama’s accounts,” Al-Dustūr in Arab West
Report, Week 22, Art 6, June 3, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
On the background of President Obama’s visit to Egypt, the author highlights the Christian
presence in the Middle East and how the American administration can deal with the issue.
Dyāb further reports on a study by Muhammad ‘Imārah in which he stated that 70 percent
of emigrating Egyptians are Christian and that Christians numbers have decreased so
much that Christians are now less than six percent of the population. ‘Imārah claims that
95 percent of Egyptians who get random emigration visas to the United States are
Christian. He claims that it is part of an American plan to empty the region of Christians,
which is in his opinion a victory for the West, the Western church and the Zionist state to
destroy the social structure in the region. In addition to their desire to merge Eastern
Christians in Western Christianity and take them away from the source of Christianity
that was born of their homelands.
327. Hani Daniel, “Is it time for representing the Copts through the quota system?!”, a a in
Arab West Report, Week 24, Art 49, June 14, 2009. URL:
“After the agreement of Parliament to allocate 56 of its seats for women within the context of
what is known as the quota, many people questioned the reasons for not allocating a number of
seats for the Copts who are underrepresented in Parliament. As a result, a suggestion was made
to set aside twenty seats for the Copts.”
328. Hani Samir, “‘Aziz: Copts should have a quota in the People’s Assembly to participate in
the running of the country,” Al-Dustūr in Arab West Report, Week 25, Art 40, June 21, 2009.
“Father Marqus ‘Azīz gives suggestions for a just representation of Copts in the Egyptian
Parliament. Father ‘Azīz believes that there should be a quota for Copts in the People’s
Assembly, adding that the government says Copts comprise 10 percent of the population, while
the Copts say they amount to 20 percent, therefore the average of the two would be 15 percent,
and therefore their representation at the People’s Assembly should match this percentage.
Accordingly, Copts should have 33 constituencies in the different regions throughout Egypt
where there are concentrations of Copts, Egypt where the competition would be between Coptic
nominees. Muslims and Copts in those constituencies vote and as such there would be 66
Christian parliament members freely elected.”
329. Amir al-Sarraf, “The network of secret churches in Egypt,” Al-Wafd in Arab West Report,
Week 28, Art 23, July 9, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2009/week-28/23-
“The requests of Copts resident abroad have combined with internal voices to demand the
removal of such constraints, as they say that the number of churches is insufficient for the Coptic
population, estimated by Pope Shenouda to exceed 12 million. (Reviewer: there are widely
differing estimates of the number of Christians in Egypt. The figure cited is one of the higher
ones.) A trusted source reveals that the number of Orthodox churches is 1326. Furthermore, the
article mentions detailed statistics about churches all over Egypt.”
330. Suha Salah, “Expatriate Copts incite the world against Egypt!” Al-Wafd in Arab West
Report, Week 29, Art 48, July 16, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“‘Abd al-Masīh Basīt, Pastor of al-‘Azrā’ Church in Musturud, says that Copts have various
problems that are ignored in Egypt and there are 2.5 million Copts in Australia, America and
Europe that need serious solutions to what is happening. Basīt called for solving Egyptian
problems inside Egypt in order not to give the chance for expatriate Copts or Jews to interfere in
331. Yusuf Sidhum, “Flagrant double standards,” Watani International in Arab West Report,
Week 29, Art 54, July 19, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2009/week-
“The author discusses double standards in Egyptian politics, commenting on quotas being
assigned to women, and the proposed quota for Copts.
If numbers are any guide, it would help to recall that, in the 10 Egyptian parliaments before
1950, Coptic representation amounted to some 27 out of a total of 264 seats. In 2005 only one
Copt made it to Parliament through the ballot box and three others were appointed by the
President, out of a total 454 seats. What more proof of the severe decline in Coptic
representation? Yet there are those who insist on recalling that Copts rejected a parliamentary
quota in 1923, conveniently forgetting that Copts never needed a quota then, in the prime liberal
332. Manal Mahmud, “Pope Shenouda receives ‘A’ishah ‘Abd al-Hadi [Egypt’s minister of
manpower and emigration],” Al-Wafd in Arab-West Report, Week 30, Art 31, July 29, 2009.
A meeting between Pope Shenouda and Egypt’s minister of manpower and emigration on the
sidelines of the annual conference for Egyptians abroad. ‘Abd al-Hādī confirmed that there were
continuous efforts to create communication and dialogue channels with Egyptians abroad. The
meeting was attended by Bishop Yū’annis and Bishop Armiyā, the pope’s secretaries, and Hānī
‘Azīz, the Counselor of the General Union for Egyptians abroad.
333. Katia Saqqa, “A Coptic president in Egypt,” Al-Wafd in Arab West Report, Week 31, Art
27, September 13, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2009/week-31/27-
In the article “Majdī Salāmah […] pointed out the “flaw” of Dr. Fathī Surūr, speaker of Egypt’s
People’s Assembly, who denied in an interview with the BBC the existence of discrimination
against Copts and that Copts are not evolved in politics in Egypt because they preferred business.
He further argued that there were 16 Copts in Egypt who met the conditions of nomination to
presidency. He elaborated that four parties in Egypt have the right to nominate members of there
supreme board for the presidential elections. Those are al-Wafd, al-Tajammu‘, al-Ghad and the
National Democratic Party. In the four parties there are 16 Copts occupying positions in the
supreme boards: Munīr Fakhrī ‘Abd al-Nūr, secretary general, Ramzī Zaqlamah, assistant of the
head of the party, Sāmih Makram ‘Ubayd, assistant secretary, in addition to Ridā Edward and
Dr. Rif‘at Kāmil, and they are all qualified to run the presidential elections.
Three Coptic members of the secretariat general of al-Tajammu‘ Party meet the same conditions:
‘Aryān Nasīf, Ikrām Labīb and Wajīh Shukrī. In al-Ghad Party, Salāmah mentions five leading
members; Najīb Jibrā’īl, Fawzī James Hīdrā, Ridā Fānūs and Majdī Fikrī (only four names were
In the ruling National Democratic Party, there are four Copts in the supreme board who also
meet the conditions (no names mentioned). Moreover, in the Egyptian legislations there is no
rule or law that prevents Copts from being presidents.”
334. Majid ‘Atiyah, “Why do al-Sharif and Surur reject the allocation of a quota to Christians
in state councils,” Al-Dustūr in Arab West Report, Week 31, Art 81, August 5, 2009. URL:
Mājid ‘Atīyah writes about al-Sharīf and Surūr’s rejection of the designation of a quota for
Christians in the Shūrá Council and the People’s Assembly.
“Safwat al-Sharīf, former Minister of Informationand president of al-Shūrá Council, who knows
that the number of Christian members in the council does not exceed 1.5%.
Dr. Fathī Surūr, President of the People’s Assembly, who is satisfied with having five Christian
members in the council.
The reason given by all who made such declarations was that “Christians are part of the Egyptian
fabric and specifying a special quota for them would mean a discrimination that threatens
national unity and is totally rejected,” ‘Attiyah writes.
“The question now is,” he continues, “are not women part of the nation’s fabric? And the 50% of
workers and farmers, are not they part of the state?” (Reviewer: this is a reference to the fact that
a quota for women’s representation in parliament was recently approved. The Egyptian
constitution also stipulates that a minimum of 50 percent of parliamentary seats be held by
workers or peasants, although the definitions of ’worker’ and ’peasant’ are by no means
335. Mirvat al-Shaykh and Ala’ al-Jamal, “‘There are no statistics for the number of
Christians, Shi‘ites or Baha’is in Egypt,’ says Abu Bakr,” a t a -Ummah in Arab-West
Report, Week 32, Art 68, August 8, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
a t a -Ummah interviews Lt. Abū Bakr al-Jindī, director of the Central Agency for Public
Mobilization and Statistics who says that the most serious problem that CAPMAS faces is
imprecision in responses to the questionnaire of CAPMAS.” This affects the numbers and data
we collect from people. You can get three different answers even to the simplest questions about
the number of family members.” The question about religion has become optional in the census
of 2006. “For this reason, the agency does not collect statistics about the number of Christians
and Shī‘ites. As for the Bahā’īs, there is no religion with this name, we only include Islam,
Christianity and Judaism and add a slot for ‘other.’”
336. Ayman ‘Abd al-Majid, “Rose al-Yūsuf breaks into the lairs of fitnah press,” Rose al-
Yūsuf in Arab West Report, Week 34, Art 16, August 20, 2009. URL:
“This article sheds light on Christian newspapers in Egypt […]
Christian newspapers in Egypt are old. There are currently 20 licensed publications, 19 of which
were licensed prior to the foundation of the Press council. On the other Side, Christian religious
newspapers have increased these including those without a license or those with licenses from
abroad British and Cypriot, wavering between extremism and moderation.”
337. Remi Drouin and Ben Connery, “Second report on the ‘Izbat Bushrá incidents,” Arab-
West Report, Week 35, Art 3, September 2, 2009. URL:
“The AWR team returned to Beni Suef to continue investigations about Izbat Bushrá. Their
efforts to visit the village, however, were rebuffed by concerns expressed by the church about
disturbing the volatile situation there.
In the eyes of the bishop, ‘Izbat Bushrá is a village of which around 50% of the inhabitants are
devout Christians (roughly 65 families). The village has two buildings used for Christian
worship, with the problem being these structures can only accommodate a third of the
338. Katia Saqqa, “The National American Coptic Assembly’s call for strikes rejected,”
Media Review in Arab West Report, Week 35, Art 29, September 2, 2009. URL:
“A Coptic organization calls on Copts inside Egypt and abroad to stage a strike in memory of
Coptic victims in Egypt over the past 28 years. The Coptic Orthodox Church and human rights
activists rejected the call and doubted its efficiency to solve Copts’ problems. They also rejected
any foreign interference and stressed Egypt’s sovereignty.
The assembly also called on Copts to insist on rejecting what it described as the Egyptian
government’s policy of persecution and racial discrimination against Copts. Furthermore the
association called for canceling the second article of the Egyptian constitution that stipulates that
the Islamic Sharī‘ah is the main source of legislation in Egypt.
Not only that, but the assembly asked for amending the election law in Egypt and called on the
president to use his power to assign Copts to governmental posts so that they comprise 25
percent of the total number of employees. Political parties were also called on to urge Copts to
join them and the police to have a positive role in bringing back runaway Coptic women to their
families so that the church can talk with them and either return them to their families or hand
them back to the police. [Reviewer: The press frequently reports that the police have searched for
and located missing Coptic young women. Consequent developments then depend on the
circumstances of their disappearance, and the girls’ own wishes, on a case by case basis].”
339. Gerrit Roos, “A Christian in Egypt is not a first class citizen,” Reformatorisch Dagblad in
Arab-West Report, Week 51, Art 5, September 12, 2009.
Ramez Atallah, director of the Egyptian Bible Society in Cairo, says "Stories about persecution
often concern Muslims who want to become Christian. Other Christians are at most the victims
of discrimination. Of course it is not nice to be a second rank citizen. Christians have no
positions in the government, except two ministers appointed by the president. A Christian never
gets an honorable mention for being the first in his year at school. Do not forget that over 40
percent of wealth in Egypt is in the hands of Christian businessmen.
We know that as a Christian organization we are protected by the government. But there is
always a lot depending on local officials. Much more often than Christians, fundamentalist
Muslims in this country end up in jail. For example people from the Muslim Brotherhood who
want to take power. For a long time there have been no bomb attacks in this country. That is why
the government does not want to let Palestinians in.”
People leave the country. Christians but also Muslims. Statistics do not seem to exist in the land
of the pyramids. If there are officials who keep track of this, then they are not available. State
The Coptic Orthodox Bishop Marqus told me in Cairo that around the year 1900 around eighty
percent of all Christians in Egypt lived south of Cairo. Today that is around 40 percent. That
means that 60 percent of Egyptian Christians live in Cairo and Alexandria. That shows how
strong the emigration of Christians from Upper Egypt to Cairo and Alexandria has been. Bishop
Marqus thinks there are a maximum of eleven million Christians in Egypt. That is in a
population of over eighty million. But according to the French statistician Philippe Fargues that
percentage is around 6 percent and that means that in a population of eighty million there are
around 4,8 million Christians. The sympathetic bishop agrees with Prince Hassan of Jordan in his
aversion of emigration. “It is not good for our countries if the pluralist character of our society
"This emigration has no primarily religious origins,” says the Coptic Catholic Bishop Qultah
who, like Marqus, serves in Cairo. “Because more Muslims than Christians leave Egypt. Be
careful with persecution stories. People mostly leave for economic reasons. Our country offers
no future. Why would they stay? It is true that Christians find it easier to leave because they feel
less at home. Because of the fear of persecution and real existing marginalization and
This [marginalization and discrimination] can happen because they belong to the lower social
classes and because they are Christian. But many Christians sin when they attribute all
[problems] to persecution because of their faith.”
Attalah: "I believe many Egyptians want to emigrate. But probably relatively more Christians
than Muslims. I think that in practice about as many Muslims as Christians leave our country.”
Publisher Yacoub underlines that it is not persecution but discrimination and economic motives
that are the most important factors encouraging people to leave. He highlights the better
educational opportunities that exist abroad. “That too can be a reason for emigration. Apart from
that also many Christians convert to Islam in Egypt. It is especially young women who want to
get married who become Muslim. Not that many adults [convert]. The Christian church is not
growing numerically (CH: Not true, the church grows numerically but declines proportionally).
Because a Christian family often has two children. A Muslim family four or five.”
Emigration starts domestically, Bishop Marcos explains. “In Egypt around eighty percent of
Christians live under the poverty line. In the south there is a shortage of good education. Thus
many people migrate to the north. Once they have arrived there, the better educated who find a
job migrate to a better quarter while it is them who are especially needed to serve in churches in
poor quarters. It is also easier for them to emigrate to the West.
And because Christians and better educated Muslims leave the south, extremism there can
especially grow in those areas among Muslims. It is often easy to communicate with Muslims
who are well educated. But especially among Muslims with a low standard of living and little
education extremist feelings grow.” Bishop Qultah adds: “our most important problem is not
religion. Our most important and mutual problem is: poverty.”
Only around six to eight percent of the Egyptian population is Christian. At least 90 percent of
them are Coptic Orthodox. The Coptic-Catholic and Protestants together make up a maximum of
0,6 to 0,8 percent of the population. The Protestants belong to different denominations.
There are official government figures about the number of Christians but many Christians do not
take those numbers seriously. Christians who oppose those government statistics provide
themselves with very different estimates, says the Dutchman Kees Hulsman who lives in Cairo.
He is connected to the Arab-West Foundation, an organization that tries to work toward a better
understanding between Muslim and Christian cultures.
340. Ma mūd Khalīl, “The Brotherhood are a group opposed to the Constitution and the law,”
A -A rār in Arab West Report, Week 39, Art 10, September 29, 2009. URL:
“Mufīd Shihāb, the state minister for legal and parliamentary affairs, stressed that the number of
churches that were built over the last 25 years amounted to 500 churches, which exceeds the
number of churches built over the last century. Shihāb added in an interview with Jābir al-
Qarmūtī on On TV that 180 churches were built in the last two years alone, denying any claims
that the state fights building churches or that it discriminates between Muslims and Copts in
building houses of worship. He clarified that it is very normal that the number of mosques is
larger than the number of churches in Egypt because the number of Muslims is greater than the
number of Copts.
Shihāb did not confirm whether or not the unified law for houses of worship is going to be
discussed in the next parliamentary session.”
341. Marqus ‘Azīz Khalīl, “A useful speech in response to Dr. Mufīd,” Al-Wafd in Arab West
Report, Week 39, Art 11, September 27, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
2009/week-39/11-useful-speech-response-dr-mufid (Information and Decision Support
Center of the Egyptian Cabinet in 2003 and 2006).
“The author, Father Marqus ‘Azīz, states that the number of churches in Egypt is enough for
only 5% of the total number of Copts. He also refers to a statement by Dr. Mufīd Shihāb,
minister of state for legal affairs, in which he declares that in the last 25 years 500 churches
were built, with 180 of them being built in only the last two years. Father ‘Azīz points out that
these figures are not true. Depending on a comparison between the official statistics from the
Information and Decision Support Center of the Egyptian Cabinet in 2003 and 2006, the author
proves that there is a big difference between the number and the increased number of both
mosques and churches and, moreover, shows that the rate of church building is decreasing.”
342. Hazim al-Biblawi, “A Christian quota in the parliament … when the cure is worse than
the disease,” Al-Ahrām in Arab West Report, Week 40, Art 45, October 4, 2009. URL:
“Dr. Hāzim al-Biblāwī writes about having a special quota for Christians in the Egyptian
Newspapers have covered the news of recent calls for specifying a quota for Christians in the
Egyptian parliament especially in light of the fact that the percentage of Christian representation
has decreased since the 1952 Revolution. These statistics imply that one part of the state is
retreating from political participation. In addition there has been a spread of religious prejudice
among a certain majority. Dr. Hāzim al-Biblāwī then discusses this call being an opportunity to
make all citizens equal in terms of their constitutional right to participate in political life and in
their feeling of loyalty and belonging to their country.”
343. Katia Saqqa, “In the conflict between the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Evangelical
Church, who is the loser?” Media Review in Arab West Report, Week 42, Art 26, October
18, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2009/week-42/26-conflict-between-
“The press sheds light on the ongoing debates between the Coptic Orthodox Church and the
Evangelical Church in Egypt. The following reports on the different press reports and
comments about the issue.
The authors spoke about the growth of the Evangelical Church at the detriment of the Coptic
Orthodox Church, especially in Upper Egyptian governorates, where, according to the authors,
the Protestant Church has converted about 1000 Coptic Orthodox to Protestantism, as a well
informed Coptic source had declared. The sources are supposed to be assigned by the church to
develop a strategy to face the alleged Evangelical plan.”
344. Andrea Zaki, “Do Christians need a quota in the next elections?” Al-Ahrām in Arab West
Report, Week 43, Art 38, October 24, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“Rev. Dr. Andrea Zakī wonders whether Christians need a quota in the Egyptian parliament.
Rev. Dr. Andrea Zakī then comments that one should admit that there is a deficit in Christian
participation in political life. “When looking at the history of Christian political participation,
the role of the state in the Egyptian parliament, and how far Christians participated according to
the 1923 Constitution,” Father Zakī writes, “it is noted that the lowest percentage of Christian
participation in the parliament was 3% in 1950. The highest percentage, however, was 10.2% in
It was a big shock to Christians, as well as some Muslims, that the National Democratic Party
did not include one Christian member on the 1995 election list. This was probably due to the
impact of political Islam. At the time, Christians felt that they had been marginalized by the
ruling party. Father Zakī ends his article by pointing out certain ideas: The idea of a
constitutional amendment to ensure Christian representation in the parliament is totally rejected
by Christians for they see themselves as part of the Egyptian fabric and not a minority.
Specifying certain geographic regions where both Muslims and Christians are responsible for
electing a Christian representative is an idea that has been suggested but it did not work during
the times of ‘Abd al-Nāsir.”
345. Clare Turner, “Editorial,” Arab-West Report, Week 40, Art 1, October 25, 2009. URL:
“The news of an alleged Evangelical plan to convert Egyptian Orthodox Copts to Protestantism
has alarmed Coptic Church leaders. Bishop Bīshūy has announced that he has a CD with details
of the plan but the Evangelical church has refuted the allegations and denied that such a plan
According to the U.S Department of State’s Freedom of Religion report there are 16 Protestant
churches in Egypt. Of those, the Evangelical church in Egypt has approximately 250,000
members, a tiny number when compared with the number of Orthodox Copts, which is stated to
be somewhere between 5 and 10 million.”
346. Sharif al-Dawakhili, “Ali al-Din Hilal: The number of Copts in parliament is less than
required… and we should endeavor to realize citizenship,” Al-Dustūr in Arab West Report,
Week 44, Art 36, October 31, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2009/week-
“Najīb Jibrā’īl, the head of the Egyptian Union for Human Rights Organization and a
delegation of the organization accompanied by Nabīl ‘Abd al-Malik, head of the Canadian-
Egyptian Organization for Human Rights [www.ceohr.org] met with ‘Alī al-Dīn Hilāl,
secretary of the Media Committee of the National Democratic Party, and proposed to him
what they called a "citizenship document" which calls for the unified law for houses of
worship, the proper representation of Copts in parliament and the enforcement of religious
347. Clare Turner, “Editorial,” Arab-West Report, Week 41, Art 1, October 31, 2009. URL:
The author comments on a number of interesting articles published in the recent number of
AWR, especially the one below deals with an interesting subject:
“[…] article 3 which is an article in al- isr a -Yawm which is taken from a report in
America in Arabic which reported on a Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life report about
the global Muslim population! Needless to say, the al- isr a -Yawm article is rather
removed from the original report. The original report is a survey of the distribution of the
Muslim population and states that 95.6 % of the Egyptian population is Muslim. It does not
focus on the rest of the population or on religious minorities. On the other hand, the al-Misrī
al-Yawm article appears to put the emphasis on the fact that the Coptic Orthodox Church
does not accept the report or the suggestion that Christians make up 5.4% of the population.
It is difficult to tell where along the reporting line the focus shifted, whether it was the
America in Arabic report or just in Bayyūmī’s article that appears in AWR, but it clearly
demonstrates how media reports can inadvertently shift focus and add a new angle to a report
that was not originally intended.”
348. Katia Saqqa, “Pope Shenouda, 38 years on the See of Saint Mark,” Media Review in
Arab West Report, Week 45, Art 36, November 6, 2009. URL:
“Muhammad Nūr of Ākhir Sā‘ah of November 11, 2009 prepared a file on the topic, entitling
it “on the 38th anniversary of Pope Shenouda’s ascension.” The articles covered a broad
range of topics e.g. there are 27 Coptic denominations and beliefs in Egypt”
349. Ikram Lama‘i, “The national church,”Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West Report, Week 45, Art
29, November 9, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2009/week-45/29-
The author, Ikrām Lam‘ī, refutes any sort of expressions which allude to the marginalization of
others and denying other groups’ identity. Moreover, he seeks to shed light on the vital national
role played by the Evangelical Church in serving Egypt and its people regardless of their
religious identity as either Muslims or Christians.
In 1934 the church became an independent entity. Moreover, the author highlights that the
Evangelical Church has no less than 100 schools all over the country as well as hospitals and
many other institutions that offer different social services for both Muslims and Copts along with
serving Egypt in the fields of Muslim-Christian dialogue and development issues.
Finally, Lam‘ī emphasizes that no one can deny the vital national role played by the Evangelical
350. Ranya Badawi, “An interview with Bishop Besenti of Hilwan and al-Ma‘sarah,” A - i r
al-Yawm in Arab West Report, Week 45, Art 28, November 11, 2009. URL:
“Badawī conducted an interview with Bishop Besenti of Hilwān and al-Ma‘sarah. The following
lines are an explicit review of the interview.
A: The number of Christians is not small I have two references in this response; the first is
Egyptian and the other is foreign. Sayyid Mar‘ī, the People’s Assembly speaker in the 1970s
said that there were six million Christians. In the same year, Pope Shenouda was on a visit to
the United States when Jimmy Carter told him: “you are a religious leader of seven million
Copts who live in Egypt.” Logically, the 6.5 million Christians was out of 40 million, the
Egyptian population at that time, 1977, which cannot be the same as nowadays. We should
comprise 13 million now, and maybe no less than 15 million, but definitely not less that ten
million as some people claim. However, even if Egyptians comprise, as Dr. Mustafá al-Fiqī
stated, ten percent of the Egyptian population, then we can say that there should be 10
churches for every 100 mosques. However, there should be rules to regulate construction.
A: We have never sought to build the same number of mosques as churches. Similarly we
cannot talk about a Christian president in Egypt. If we reach a percentage of one church to
every 10 mosques we will be satisfied. Believe me all conditions and restrictions are made on
one part. A Christian physician obtained an authorization to build a clinic; but in reality he
was building a church. When the security found out they demolished the building, even
though they could have just ignored it.
A: An influential official (Mufīd Shihāb) told me that “the quota is not in your favor, you are
not incapable of succeeding and are not strangers in the country.” He however promised an
alternative electoral system that is proportional. He also promised that Coptic representation
will not be less than 15-20 percent.”
351. Jalal ‘Arif, “The Coptic quota … is not the solution,” Arab West Report, Week 47, Art
20, November 19, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2009/week-47/20-
“Jalāl ‘Ārif seeks to shed light on one of the most crucial and controversial issues raised in
Egyptian society from time to time; citizenship and national unity among Muslims and
Copts. He warns against following any step like, for example, the Coptic quota, which would
negatively affect citizenship by discriminating between Egyptians on a religious basis,
dividing them as minorities and majorities.
The Copts are not a minority in this society but rather represent a vital part of Egyptian
society. ‘Ārif stresses that by thinking this way Egypt would be capable of defending itself
against foreign efforts to implant fitnah among citizens and the people would be able to face
any external aggression or internal crises. From this perspective, the Copts in Egypt rejected
proposals for them to receive a quota of seats in the Parliament while formulating the 1923
Constitution; they believed that was a way to ruin national unity and deal with them as a
minority. They believed that nationalism guarantees equal rights and freedom for all the
people. Throughout the ages, national unity has faced and overcome many problems and
crises, thanks to its refusal to divide the Egyptian people into minority and majority groups
on a religious basis.”
MN (May 2012): The original publisher of this article has for inexplicable reasons not been
noted when translated, but due to lack of consistency in formalities and change of staff over
years, unfortunately it is not possible to add this by now.
352. Samih Mahrus and Muhammad‘Ali Ibrahim, “Interview with Pope Shenouda ,” al-
Jumhūr yah in Arab West Report, Week 47, Art 33, November 22, 2009. URL:
“[…] second part of al-Jumhūrīyah’s interview with Pope Shenouda.
Q: Do you have statistics on the number of churches built in the past 20 years?
A: Not precisely. However, recently quite a large number of churches have been built,
especially over the past five years. The president of the republic is moderate and does not
object to such issues, but troubles come locally (Reviewer: from local authorities).”
353. Samir Khalil Samir, “Disappearance of Churches of the Middle East, a Tragedy for
Christians and Muslims,” Asia News in Arab-West Report, Week 51, Art 21, December 20,
2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2009/week-51/21-disappearance-churches-
Pope Benedict XVI has called synod of the churches in the Middle East for an October 2010.
Difficulties churches suffer include widespread conflict, confrontational approaches following
political changes, terrorism, the growth of the Islamic fundamentalist movement which reflects
in media, schools and elsewhere which makes Christians “forced to behave in a ‘more Islamic’
way, often suffering social exclusion as a result.”
The easiest response for Christians to this situation tends to be one that is both equal and
opposite: affirming the Christian identity with more stringency; a hardening of relations among
themselves. This is evident in Egypt, but also in other situations.
Another way to react is to emigrate. Everyone, Christians and Muslims emigrate for socio-
economic reasons, rarely for religious reasons. But the number of Christians who emigrate is far
higher than that of Muslims and among the reasons why Christians leave those of cultural, and
moral freedom are mounting. Emigration is facilitated by the fact that many Christians have
relatives and friends abroad, the result of past migrations.
In the case of Egypt it is clear: Muslim migration has always been temporary, to the Gulf
countries, people leave for a few years and then return. Instead Christians emigrate to North
America or Europe or Australia, transplanting themselves in a comprehensive manner.
Emigration is not an entirely negative factor: it can also be opportunity for renewal. The Coptic
community in the United States, for example, counts at least 700 thousand faithful. These were
compared with American or Australian culture and sought to maintain the Coptic tradition - such
as fasting, which is very intense and long - and respect for the clergy and for their Church. At the
same time they have found other ways to celebrate, a greater closeness to the Holy Scriptures,
Western theology. This has allowed for a true ecumenism and openness to other religious
communities. And this is a positive contribution to their church.
Emigration has positive aspects also from an economic standpoint because it supports families
and churches back home.
The presence of Islamic fundamentalism has positive aspects: it encourages Christians to live
their faith in a more radical and intimate way, because there is an attack on their faith. Religious
feeling is strengthened; at times, this religious sentiment in Christians and Muslims tends to
fanaticism, but more often it arouses the desire for greater reflection, freedom and discovery.
The mission of the Christian minority
What makes matters worse is the fact numeric: Christians are a minority, they have neither
numbers nor militias to claim a space. Their presence is neither supported in the region - because
it is overwhelmingly Muslim - nor abroad because Europe and America are uninterested in the
fate of Christians. When interest is aroused it is because the plight of Christians is linked to the
economic and political situation.
We must take stock of these reasons in order to understand what future Christians have in the
Middle East. And this is the purpose of the Synod: first comprehend the situation and then look
for possible paths of action.
Many Christians are tempted to emigrate. This choice weakens those who remain: those leaving
are generally the most capable in cultural and economic terms, and those who stay the weakest
and the poorest. This is likely to provoke a vicious circle: the more people leave the more those
who remain are oppressed. A similar thing happened in Turkey. Today there are more Syriac
faithful in Saudi Arabia (migrants from India) than in Turkey and Syria combined. On a personal
level, Christians a re highly adaptable to all situations. This means that in a one to two
generations, Christians abroad become permanent residents and part of another Christian
But the question is: have Christians a specific mission in the Middle East?
If one thinks about the consequences for communities worldwide, it must be said that there is a
risk of a great loss for world culture and the Universal Church: the end of the Churches of the
East. Within a few decades a large part of the theological and intellectual heritage of the
Churches of the East would be cancelled. And no book can replace it.
But it would be a great loss for the countries of the East. Christians are a different voice, a
challenging one, diverse from Israel and the Muslims, with a specific culture that enriches this
cultural area. It would also be a loss for society because Christians represent a tradition of
freedom, of openness that is partly missing in the Islamic tradition, which is more closed in on
This phenomenon has occurred many times in history: the Assyrian Christians who between the
eighth century and the twelfth introduced Hellenistic thought in philosophy, medicine, science.
And in 800 and 900, they also introduced European thought through their translations. They are a
cultural bridge. And for the same Islamic world their disappearance would be a loss. In short, the
emigration of Christians abroad and their disappearance from the East be a loss for everyone,
first and foremost for Muslims themselves.
354. Sharif al-Dawakhili, “The Patriarch of the Coptic Catholic Church in Egypt: We count
300,000 and Coptic Orthodox count eight million,” Arab West Report, Week 52, Art 41,
December 26, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2009/week-52/41-patriarch-
“In his sermon on Christmas, his Eminence Antonius Najīb, patriarch of the Coptic Catholic
Church in Egypt stated that there were no official statistics about the Coptic Orthodox population
in Egypt. However; unofficial sources have revealed that Catholics count about 300.000 people
while Orthodox Copts count eight million.”
MN (May 2012): The original publisher of this article has for inexplicable reasons not been
noted when translated, but due to lack of consistency in formalities and change of staff over
years, unfortuneately it is not possible to add this by now.
355. Maryam Tawfiq, “Dr. Safwat al-Bayyadi: I am against a quota for women and for
Copts,” Arab West Report, Week 52, Art 36, December 27, 2009. URL:
In this interview, Rev. Dr. Safwat al-Bayyādī, head of the Evangelical denomination,
states that Christians and Muslims believe in the Virgin Mary’s purity and venerate her.
He, as secretary-general for Evangelical schools, confirms that their schools serve all
Egyptians regardless of their religion and that 90% of the schools’ students are Muslims.
He rejects a parliamentary quota for women and Copts and prefers the proportional
electoral list system.
MN (May 2012): The original publisher of this article has for inexplicable reasons not been
noted when translated, but due to lack of consistency in formalities and change of staff over
years, unfortuneately it is not possible to add this by now.
356. ‘Alā’ al-Aswānī, “Who killed the Egyptians on their feast day?” Al-Shurūq a -Jad d in
Arab West Report, Week 2, Art 3, January 12, 2010. URL:
“Novelist and columnist Alaa al-Aswani looks back to the rejection of a Coptic quota in
parliament when the Egyptian Constitution was signed in 1923 […].
When the first Egyptian Constitution was being prepared by al-Wafd party in 1923, the people
drafting the document, which included some of the greatest minds of the age, wanted to
incorporate an article designating a certain quota of parliamentary seats to the Copts. Many,
however, were opposed to this quota, arguing that the Copts were not a minority that needed
protecting, but rather Egyptian citizens just as any other. Most of those who opposed the quota
system were, in fact, Copts.
[…] when the Copts rejected a quota in 1923, it was during a period of a tolerant, reformist
reading of Islam led by the then Muhammad ‘Abduh, which liberated the national conscience
from intolerance. Since the end of the 70s, however, Egypt has engaged in a new understanding
of Islam; the extreme salafī ideology that Egyptian jurists have called "the law of the Bedouin."
The most dangerous aspect of salafī ideology is that it totally undermines the concept of
citizenship. In their eyes, the Copts are not citizens but dhimmīs (protected non-Muslims) - a
defeated and subordinate minority in a country conquered by Muslims. On tens of satellite
stations and internet sites, one can find material professing hatred and contempt for the Copts,
and even some who call for boycotting and not dealing with them.
With the spread of such anti-Coptic sentiment, it's normal that Copts feel like attacks against
them are natural and inevitable.”
357. Katia Saqqā, “The Shaykh and the priest,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West Report, Week 5,
Art 11, January 30 –February 5, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
Father Basīt stated that since the incidents in al-Khankah there have been 120 attacks
against Copts that have the same scenario: provocation from some extremists, arresting a
number of Christians, though they are victims, and arresting another group of Muslims
for bargaining reasons. After that the problems are resolved outside the law and through
conventional reconciliation sessions that result in no punishment for the culprit and no
compensation for those harmed. Sometimes the culprits are not punished and the price is
allowing Christians to pray. Usually security officers, MPs and members of municipal
councils hold the sessions. Father Basīt stated that he does not blame Muslims; those who
commit such attacks are not real Muslims, he says. However, he blames the government
for the way it deals with the problems. He added that 99.9 percent of Muslims are
moderate and do not object to building churches.
358. Hany Danyal, “Human Rights Watch annual report Poor record,” Watani International in
Arab West Report, Week 5, Art 41, January 31, 2010. URL:
“In its annual report for 2010, the US-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) lashed out at what it
dubbed “deteriorating religious freedoms in Egypt”. The report was concerned with monitoring
the status of freedom in 90 countries, including 15 Middle Eastern ones. As far as Egypt is
concerned, the report cited the continuous discrimination against Copts and the official
intolerance of Baha'is and some Muslim sects.
“Although Egypt’s constitution provides for equal rights without regard to religion,” the report
said, “discrimination against Egyptian Christians and official intolerance of Baha’is and some
Muslim sects continue despite court rulings early in 2008 that ordered the government to provide
identification documents to Baha’is and to allow Muslim converts from Christianity to convert
back to Christianity without penalty.”
The report observed that disputes between Muslims and Christians flared into violent clashes on
several occasions, resulting in deaths and injuries as well as destruction of property.”
359. Jamāl Girgis and ‘Amr Jād, “Zaqzūq stirs a fight between the Muslim Brotherhood and
Copts about the unified law for houses of worship,” Al-Yawm al-Sābi‘ in Arab West Report,
Week 5, Art 45, February 2, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-
“Salīb Mattá Sāwīris, priest of Mar Girgis Church and member of the Coptic Orthodox
Community Council, points out that the problem lies mainly in the dominant ideas of society. He
argues that the society's view towards building churches should be changed to avoid tensions.
Passing a unified law for houses of worship is not enough, he stresses.
On the other hand, another party, representing a particular Islamic trend, argues against a unified
law for houses of worship believing there is no need for it. Shaykh Yūsuf al-Badrī for example,
states that Egypt does not need such a law, as the number of churches is now increasingI in
Egypt, while the number of Copts is decreasing to only 5% of the total population. He says that it
is expatriate Copts and not Copts inside Egypt that call for a unified law for houses of worship.
Al-Badrī asks the advocates for the unified law not to ignore the fact that Egypt is a Muslim
country and that the law they call for is an American law that does not fit a Muslim country.”
360. Author not mentioned, “American report asserts: economical reasons, not oppression,
behind Christian migration to the West,” al-Wafd in Arab-West Report, Week 6, Art 47,
February 8, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-6/47-american-
A report issued by the US ABC News Agency asserted that it is the economy, not oppression,
why Arab Christians migrate to the West. Prof. Hilāl Kashān, professor of political sciences at
the American University of Beirut, stated in this report that what is being said about the
increasing tension between Muslims and Christians in Egypt and Iraq is not true. He also
expressed his surprise at the exceptional interest in any violence Christians are facing in either
Egypt or Iraq.
361. Author not mentioned, “Hilāl rejects the Coptic quota,” Al-Jumhūr yah in Arab West
Report, Week 7, Art 55, February 12, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“‘Alī al-Dīn Hilāl does not agree with establishing a quota in the Parliament on a religious basis.
He said he always called for increasing Coptic representation in political positions and the
parliament, and argued that this could be realized through partisan and political work, and
through electoral success. He also confirmed his disagreement with the idea of a religious quota
362. Rob Crilly, “Justifying the Mob’s Actions,” Watani International in Arab West Report,
Week 7, Art 23, February 14, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-
“This article comments on the conflict between Muslims and Christians in Egypt.
Copts account for about 10 per cent of Egypt’s mainly Muslim population. Theirs is a long
history, and they remain the largest Christian population in the Middle East.
Today, the Copts – who number about eight million – are living through another period of fear.
Sectarian conflict is growing in frequency as both sides radicalise. Newspapers keep a running
tally of the latest casualties. Homes have been burned and dozens from either side arrested.
At the same time, rumour and paranoia turn misunderstandings and isolated disputes into
363. Shaymā’ Fathī and Nuhá Hijāzī, “Names and numbers: The map of Coptic participation
in political parties,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West Report, Week 7, Art 57, February 17, 2010.
The authors of this article reflect on the scarcity of Coptic participation in political parties
and give percentages of this participation. The proportion of this participation is 5 percent
in al-Ghad Liberal Party, including only five Coptic members in its high leadership
authority. Other parties have even less Coptic participation such as Misr al-‘Arabī
Socialist Party and al-Jumhūrī al-Hurr Party, where Coptic participation is only two
members in each. In al-Jīl Party, participation is only 5 percent. Al-Dustūr Party has a
higher participation, with 15 percent of members Copts. A similar proportion of 8 percent
is found in both al-Itthādī Democratic Party and al-Islāh wa al-Tanmiyah Party.
364. Rānyā. “Copts fund the detection of culprits in sectarian incidents,” Al-‘Arab in Arab
West Report, Week 10, Art 31, March 7, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“Coptic expatriates establish a project to provide financial support to the victims of sectarian
attacks in Egypt and their families and to provide media campaigns against culprits of sectarian
Establishers of the project “claimed that there are about 75 sectarian incidents in Egypt every
year with 400 victims and 500 injured. (Editor: A recent report published by the Egyptian
Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) counted 53 sectarian incidents in 2 years, 52 of which were
between Muslims and Christians. That expatriate Copts claim around 3 times higher than this
figure is significant, although possibly an inflated figure.)”
365. Sanā’ al-Sa‘īd, “Pope Shenouda: We should only resort to the president in complex
matters,” Al-Usbū‘ in Arab West Report, Week 14, Art 30, April 2, 2010. URL:
The article present “a review of an interview conducted by Sanā’ al-Sa‘īd with Pope Shenouda
who commented on political, social and Coptic issues.
Q: Does Your Holiness feel that there is persecution and discrimination against Copts?
A: The term persecution is so difficult, and there is no need to use it in our discussion. What I
want to say is that Copts are deprived from positions in the State, and the percentage of Copts in
certain important posts in the army leadership, the State Security, judiciary and universities is
almost zero. When a Copt is appointed to one of these posts, all the media focuses on how Copts
have got this or that, while this person doesn't comprise more than one per cent of the leadership.
Q: There were times where Copts’ percentage of MPs was high?
A: Now there is no percentage of Copts in the Parliament or any legislative councils.”
366. Ahmad ‘Abd al-Halīm, “Documented: psychiatrist centers accused of using clients’
troubles to convert them,” a t a -Ummah in Arab West Report, Week 14, Art 3, April 3,
2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-14/3-documented-psychiatrist-
“The author reports on allegations about psychiatric medical centers that abuse the fragile state
of drug addicts to convince them to convert to Christianity.
a t a -Ummah claims having obtained a “secret document” sent by the security apparatus to the
Ministry of Health accusing a number of centers directed by Copts of being involved in
The author reported that the security took control of a farm in Wādī Natrūn that is allegedly
under the supervision of a prominent religious leader. The big farm extends over about 150
feddāns and receives drug addicts in the withdrawal stages, and allegedly widely practices
Not far from the farm, the author reports, there is another center for addiction treatment. The
owner of the center (A. Kh) has six similar centers in several governorates: In Fāyid district in al-
Ismā‘ilīyah, in al-Nuzhah and Brilkly and al-Azārītah districts and another hospital in Muharram
Beik in Alexandria.”
367. Hānī Labīb, “Are the Copts in Egypt a Pampered Minority?!” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab
West Report, Week 15, Art 9, April 10-16, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“Labīb then reflects on a number of issues before tackling the main question raised in the
article. First, he reflects on the notion of "minority," stressing that the expression is a scientific
one and that the argument over the Copts’ status was political rather than academic. According
to him, the Copts in Egypt are a minority in terms of quantity rather than ethnicity, religion, or
even culture — the word “minority” should not be used to imply marginalization or weakness.”
368. Muhammad al-Sāwī, “Copts having adulterous relationships because of falsified
conversion certificates,” Al-Fajr in Arab West Report, Week 15, Art 18, April 12, 2010.
“Ayn Shams prosecution director Tāmir Jamāl, for instance, has discovered 17 forged certificates
attributed to the Evangelical and Greek Orthodox Churches in Alexandria. […] According to
Tāmir Jamāl, there are 70 incidents of forgery currently being investigated.”
369. ‘Imād Habīb, “The Season of Migration to America,” A - u a ar in Arab-West
Report, Week 15, Art 24, April 14, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
Around forty bishops from the Orthodox Church started their annual journeys to America and
various European countries, staying abroad for up to several months. Reasons include
fundraising, visiting expatriate conferences and human rights advocacy.
370. Majdī Khalīl, “The violence against Copts in the past two years,” a a a -Da in
Arab West Report, Week 16, Art 12, April 18, 2010. URL:
“Khalīl highlights and analyzes the recent report of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
about sectarian violence in Egypt over the last two years.
Khalīl focuses on the recent report of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights concerning
sectarian violence in Egypt over the last two years. Khalīl points out that 51 sectarian incidents
were against Copts, one was against Bahā’īs and one against Muslims.”
371. Majdī Salāmah, “Coptic agents create unrest in Egypt,” Al-Wafd in Arab West Report,
Week 20, Art 16, May 2, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-
“Majdī Khalīl, Director of the Middle East Freedom Forum, in an interview with al-Wafd Daily,
said that he emigrated to the U.S. searching for a better life and future. He believes that Copts in
Egypt are a "persecuted minority." He defines 'minority' as a group that has a lower social status
within the society, less power and less rights compared to the group dominating the society.
Khalīl said that all definitions of persecution and discrimination are applied to Copts in Egypt.
He noted that the late President Jamāl ‘Abd al-Nāsir marginalized the Copts politically and
economically, while late President Anwar al-Sādāt was the one who started the Islamization of
Egypt and the persecution of Copts. Then President Mubārak continued what Sādāt started.
Therefore, the ruling period of President Mubārak is the worst for Copts since the establishment
of modern Egypt, in terms of the increasing violence and political marginalization, according to
He referred to some features of that persecution. For example, there are more than 1,500 attacks
on Copts which resulted in the murder and injury of many, in addition to incidents of theft and
destruction of properties worth millions of pounds. Besides, there are hundreds of disappearances
of Coptic girls and minors.
Elaborating, he said that Copts are deprived from being a part of sovereign decision-making
institutions in Egypt, such as the National Security Council, the Supreme Council of Armed
Forces, the Supreme Judicial Council…etc. The current parliament includes only one elected
Copt among the 444 members of parliament.
Furthermore, the building of churches demands a presidential decree, hence the number of
churches accounts for 2 percent of the number of mosques.”
372. Majdī Salāma, “Copts have to struggle alongside Muslims for reform, democracy –
activist,” Al-Wafd in Arab West Report, Week 18, Art 20, May 4, 2010. URL:
“Majdī Khalīl, founder and director of the Middle East Freedom Forum, said in an interview
with al-Wafd newspaper that he immigrated to the United States like thousands of people from
third world countries in search of a better life for his family.
Khalīl identified Copts as an oppressed minority in Egypt, for the government deprives them of
their rights as Egyptian citizens.
“Copts are not allowed to undertake leading posts in decision making institutions like the
National Security Council, the Higher Council of the Armed Forces, the Police Higher Council,
and the Higher Judicial Council, etc.,” Khalīl explained. He further noted that of the 444 current
members of parliament, only one is a Copt.
“Even among universities there is not a single Coptic president, while in the foreign ministry
Copts do not exceed 1-2% of the total number of diplomats,” he added.”
373. Magdy Malak, “Democracy Egyptian style,” Watani International in Arab West Report,
Week 19, Art 41, May 9, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-
“This article details the state of democracy in Egypt through the work of the Egyptian
Association for Community Participation Enhancement (EACPE) in their third annual report
titles “Democracy status in Egypt 2009.” It was found that Egypt was lacking in the international
democratic standards concerning elections, as well as free and fair participation.
Mr Fawzy said, “the report revealed a decline of the rate of participation of Copts, whether in
nomination or in balloting. No Coptic candidate whatever stood in some elections, such as in
case of the syndicates of the lawyers and the acting professions.” The report emphasised that
there was great disregard for women and Copts in the community as a result of the prevailing
climate of hostility towards Copts and of resistance to the empowerment of women. The highest
percentage of participation in elections was among sports clubs proving, he said, that Egyptians
are not indifferent to political participation once they are sure elections are free and fair and
would bring to office persons who would make a difference”
374. Hanān Sulaymān, “Coptic-Lebanese movements form American and Israeli platforms for
the involvement of the US in the issue of Middle Eastern Christians,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab-
West Report, Week 19, Art 38, May 10, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
The author highlights the attitudes of some expatriate Copts and how they seek interference from
foreign countries. She refers to an article by ‘Ādil Jindī at
www.gloriacenter.org/meria/2010/03/guindy.html1#_end21 in which he focuses on the situation
of Copts in Egypt, and believes it to be an organized persecution and refers to images of such
persecution. The author explains that MERIA is a review published by an Israeli extremist
organization. Coptic activist Magdī Khalīl alleges that the crimes against Copts are “crimes of
the state” and believes that the Egyptian state encourages Islamic extremism. Migration to the
West is blamed on persecution of Christians.
375. Ahmad Ayyūb and ‘Imād Habīb, “Copts boycott foreign ministry tests,” A - u a ar in
Arab West Report, Week 20, Art 17, May 12, 2010. URL:
“This article addresses the relationship between Muslims and Christians in Egypt, bringing to
light the desire from the Coptic minority for full social inclusion and accessibility to more
opportunities that should be initiated by the Egyptian government.
The Committee's move was adopted by Foreign Minister Ahmed AbūAbū al-Ghayt, who had
noticed that the number of Copts applying for the Ministry’s exams for new diplomats had
decreased over the past five years with only three percent among 600-800 applicants during the
last two years being Copts.
"There are many Copts who would rather establish businesses of their own than to seek
diplomatic positions. However, reports that Copts are not welcome inside the Foreign Ministry
are sheer lies in light of the presence of a large number of Coptic ambassadors in the Ministry,"
376. Robeir al-Faris, “Copts in Parliament: The untold story,” Watani International in Arab
West Report, Week 24, Art 11, June 13, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“The monthly Watani Book series has chosen to tread the prickly path of issues concerned with
the curtailed citizenship rights of Copts […]
[…] some 85 per cent of the MPs Watani approached were all for passing the bill, it was the
views expressed by the opponents that were eye-opening. Opponents of the bill used arguments
that insisted Egypt was a Muslim country and that allowing Copts to build churches freely
would change the Islamic look of Egypt—a possibility that was, according to them, utterly
unacceptable. Others feared that, if allowed to build churches, Copts would build too many of
them—a strict no-no. And yet others said that the building of churches would ‘irritate’
Muslims. If a portion of Egypt’s legislators was so impervious to the needs of Copts, the
question that begs an answer is: what kind of representation are Copts getting?
Copts joined political parties—one Copt, Akhnoukh Fanous, founded a political party on his
own in 1908, but the experience was short-lived and ended in 1911. Several Coptic MPs
became political leaders and had considerable following; most famous among them was
Makram Ebeid who was a Wafdist but left the Wafd and formed his own party al-Kutla in
1942. In their heydey, Coptic MPs formed 8 – 10 per cent of the total number of MPs in
377. Yusuf Sidhum, “A history of religious discrimination,” Watani International in Arab
West Report, Week 25, Art 6, June 20, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“This article deals with a website maintained by Asyut University. The website was cited as
publishing statistics and information which was biased against Copts in the area, and in the
[…] it appears someone drew the attention of those in charge of the website that statistics based
upon religious categorisation carried a detrimental public image of the university to the entire
world; the statistics were withdrawn from the site. In all cases, the data cited had indicated that
out of 72344 students enrolled in 2006 with the university 28 per cent were Christian, out of
2011 faculty members 0.75 per cent were Christian, and out of 1494 support staff 2.01 per cent
MN (May 2012): The same article can be found under the following link, but with a different
date citation, that is an example of the discrepancy of date cititions mention introductory:
378. Hānī Labīb, “Copts and parliament with citizenship,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West
Report, Week 26, Art 3, June 27, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
( ata newspaper: “Copts and Parliament: Voices of Glasses”)
“The author reviews a book published by ata newspaper on the Coptic participation in the
parliament since its establishment.”
Highlights from the book:
1. “No Copt was elected to parliament from 1924 to 1950.
2. In 1931, the parliament had 150 members, including 4 elected Copts, while in 1950, there
were 319 members, including only 10 Copts.
3. A total of 27 Copts were elected in 1942, which considered the largest number of Copts
to be elected in the parliament, out of the 264-member parliament.
4. No single Copt was elected in 1957 and 1995.
5. Several Copts have been elected and appointed in the parliament during President
Mubarak’s term. In 1987 six Copts were elected and four were appointed out of the total
6. The 1000-page book highlights several problems within the parliament but it focused on
three main issues; the unified lawfor buildingplaces of worship, ignoring sectarian unrest
incidents and the personal status law.
379. Hānī Samīr, “Muslim Brotherhood to nominate large number of Copts in their lists in the
next parliamentary elections,” Al-Dustūr in Arab West Report, Week 31, Art 29, July 30,
2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-31/29-muslim-brotherhood-
“Sa'd al-Husīnī, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood's parliamentary bloc, declared that the
MB will include a number of Copts candidates in case of participation in the next
380. Tāriq Hijī, “The Tragedy of Egypt's Copts ...” (1), Watani International in Arab West
Report, Week 31, Art 30, August 1, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“In Egypt, the Copts are being denied access to certain high positions, deprived from the
freedom to build new churches, and suffering from increasing suffocating fanaticism from all
directions. […] There is a widespread feeling among Copts that their participation in public life
has gradually dwindled over the last fifty years. Their sense of marginalization is borne out by
the facts like in 1995, when not a single Copt was elected to parliament.”
381. Tarek Heggy, “The tragedy of Egypt's Copts” (2), Watani International in Arab West
Report, Week 32, Art 45, August 8, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“[…] whatever the reason, the fact remains that the Copts are marginalized in Egyptian public
life, and this is a situation that merits serious study.”
382. Mohamed Abdul Sahkour, “Coptic group requests Obama’s support for Gamal Mubarak's
presidential campaign,” A -A rār in Arab West Report, Week 36, Art 16, September 4, 2010.
“U.S. based Coptic Group, Together For Egypt, requested United States president Barack Obama
support Gamal Mubārak 's right to campaign for presidency in the upcoming elections, and for
there to be a Coptic candidate. The group urged Copts in Egypt to negotiate for 25% of seats in
parliament, matching what they claim is their percentage of the population.”
383. Thereza Kamal, “Coptic candidates in Egyptian elections,” A - i r a -Yawm in Arab
West Report, Week 37, Art 6, September 11, 2010. URL:
“Thirteen Copts are ready to face candidates from the ruling party and the Muslim Brotherhood
in the upcoming Parliamentary Elections - a significant increase in numbers compared to 2005's
zero candidates. An unnamed source described it as a natural reaction to the ruling party's stress
on the importance of Coptic political contribution.”
384. Dina el-Bawab, “An Egyptian Muslim Woman's Trip to a Coptic Orthodox Monastery,”
Arab-West Report, Week 40, Art 37, October 13, 2010. URL:
The article is about the Muslim girl Dina el-Bawab’s visit within the walls of a Christian
orthodox monastery... She used to be an intern at the CIDT which gave her this opportunity
“Coptic Orthodox Christians comprise the second largest religious group in Egypt, second only
to Sunni Muslims. Copts make up for 6% to 15% of Egypt’s population. Muslims and Christians
live together side by side. Aside from religious rituals, they interact with each other in all daily
385. Cornelis Hulsman, “AWR Editorial: Intolerant Climate in Egypt and Media
Manipulations Result in Row Around Bishop Bīshūy,” Arab-West Report, Week 43, Art 32,
October 25, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-43/32-awr-
“Egypt’s media climate is poisoned. Recent media debates started with an interview with Bishop
Bīshūy, in which he claimed that Muslims are merely guests in Egypt […] the heated debate
around Bishop Bīshūy is the sensitivity around conversions from one religion to the other.
Conversions in Egypt are primarily a one way track. It is estimated that yearly thousands of
Christians convert to Islam, while perhaps tens of Muslims per year become Christian. There are
no public records of such conversions and thus numbers given are always estimates. There are
closed records of the Egyptian security, but they will certainly not be willing to go public.”
386. Hanā‘ ‘Alī, “Al-‘Awwā Asks Government not to Publish the Population Census
According to Sects,” Al-Dustūr in Arab-West Report, Week 43, Art 42, October 27, 2010.
Dr. Muhammad Salīm al-‘Awwā said that he would like the government to stop publishing the
population census according to sects because he says some people manipulate parts of the data,
particularly the number of Copts in Egypt. He also pointed out that Pope Shenouda III said that
numbers published by the government are insignificant to him, claiming the number of Copts in
Egypt to be fifteen million.
387. Rafīq Greish, “In fear of Christians disappearing from the Middle East,” Rose al-Yūsuf in
Arab-West Report, Week 44, Art 17, October 30, 2010. URL:
Father Rafīq Greish reports from a synod at the Vatican that included discussions about the
migration of Copts from the Middle East and the dangers of political Islam.
388. Ramzī Zaqlamah, “The census ‘fitnah’,”Al-Wafd in Arab-West Report, Week 46, Art 16,
November 13, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-46/16-census-
Ramzī Zaqlamah discusses whether determining the specific number of Copts in Egypt is
important. He says an accurate number does not exist because Copts tend to over-count and
Muslims usually tend to under-count, wrongfully linking population numbers with rights and
duties towards the nation. He criticizes the “religion” column in national ID cards for only
serving to advance religious discrimination.
389. Mustafá ‘Ibādah, “Dr. Rif‘at al-Sa‘īd: I refuse the idea of a Coptic quota”, Al-Ahrām al-
‘Arabī in Arab West Report, Week 49, Art 4, 3 December 2010. URL:
“Progressive National Unionist Party leader Rif‘at al-Sa‘īd talks about the effect of Western
capitalism on the Egyptian left. He also comments on the funding of NGO's who work with
issues covered by political parties, such as his. He says that these NGO's tend to deal with the
issues in their own Western way, which he alleges is incompatible with Egyptians most the time.
When asked about a proposed Coptic parliamentary quota, Sa‘īd said that he is firmly against it,
arguing that a quota implies that Copts are a separate entity.”
390. Diana Ghali, “Cardinal Najīb: Politicizing Religion is not Acceptable,” Al-Wafd in Arab
West Report, Week 1, Art 22, January 1, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“Cardinal Antonius Najīb, Coptic Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria, talks in this interview with
al-Wafd about various current issues facing Egypt.
Dealing with the recent and upcoming elections in Egypt, the Cardinal claims that the majority
Muslim population would never vote for a minority Coptic candidate. "Logically, they will vote
for the majority. Appointing a fixed parliamentary quota could be a solution,” he said.
Cardinal Najīb is also looking forward to the implementation of a unified law for building places
of worship. Further, he believes that politicizing religion and relying on religious rule is
unacceptable, whether in Egypt or internationally.”
391. Ashraf ‘Abd al-Ghafur, “Interview with Coptic Bishop Bīsantī,” Al-Jumhūr yah in Arab
West Report, Week 4, Art 9, January 26, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“Al-Jumhūrīyah on Wednesday interviewed Bishop Bīsantī of Helwan and al-Ma‘ arah.
The interviewer then asked if the bishop supported a quota for Copts in parliament, to which he
responded: “Has the [women’s] quota devalued women’s worth in Egypt?” and when the
interviewer pointed out that Pope Shenouda had opposed the quota he said: “he did but owing to
the situation currently existing he said there was ‘no solution’ except the quota or voting by the
Regarding his support or otherwise for cancellation of the entry for religion on identity cards,
Bīsantī said he supports this “because I am a citizen, let my religion be what I wish [it to be], as
long as I am honest and loyal to my country and my countrymen.””
392. Jayson Casper, “A Christian Face to the Protests,” Arab-West Report, Week 6, Art
13, February 8, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-6-week-
“This text was not composed based on first-hand experience, although the author was able to
personally witness two days of previous demonstrations. Rather, it is compiled based on nearly
eighteen minutes of footage posted on YouTube by the Coptic website Yar3any.com, and an
additional two and a half minutes posted by BBC Arabic. It is also bolstered by the first-hand
account of Dr. Amin Makram Ebeid, a board member of the Center for Arab West
Understanding, which cooperates with Arab West Report.
The Coptic Orthodox Church represents the vast majority of Christians in Egypt, who represent
around 6% of the overall population. Since sectarian troubles began plaguing Copts in the 1970s,
Pope Shenouda has taken a leadership role in speaking on behalf of the Christian community,
seeking to secure its political rights and its protection against extremist Muslim elements.
Though the relationship has been wobbly, Pope Shenouda has largely succeeded in crafting a
positive political stance vis-à-vis the government of President Mubarak.
[…] when Christians represent less than 6% of the population, insistence on doctrinal divisions
takes on less importance. They will not deny the specifics of their peculiar creed, but they will
also not shy away from cross-participation in different congregations, and especially not from
warm individual relationships of respect. A Christian, they believe, is a Christian.”
393. Jayson Casper, “Egyptian Demonstrations and the Muslim Brotherhood,” Arab-West
Report, Week 6, Art 18, February 10, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
The author comments on the Egyptian protests in 2011 and their huge media coverage:
“Egypt is more than 90% Muslim; the Muslims took over a long time ago. What is intended, of
course, is the worry that a specifically Muslim government would employ sharia law and take
away rights recognized in the Western world as universal, and assumed to be antithetical to
[…] in the context of a greater than 90% Muslim population, the vast majority of those
protesting have been Muslim. The key question is what kind of Muslims are they? Before
considering this question, however, it is useful to take note that not all protestors have been
Muslims. Among their number have been thousands of Egyptian Christians.”
394. Cornelis Hulsman, “Experiences of a Dutch/Belgian delegation in Egypt prior to the
resignation of President Mubarak (1),” Arab-West Report, Week 6, Art 7, February 11, 2011.
This report focuses on discussions on Muslim-Christian dialogue as well as the tensions that
developed rapidly during the days the author and a Dutch/Belgian group, which were visiting
Egypt to see the route of the Holy Family, were traveling around.
“Rev. Atallah is Presbyterian and explained there are some 1200 protestant churches in Egypt of
which 50% are belonging to his denomination.
Andreu Claret, Executive Director of the Anna Lindh Foundation (ALF), Gianluca Solera,
international network coordinator and Inge Sidky of the Foundation, stated that 40% of Egypt’s
population lives on less than 2 US$ per day. With increasing food and other prices these people
certainly have a miserable life. Many of the demonstrators of the previous day must have been in
that category. Others said 80% lives on not much more then 2 US$ per day.”
CH (May 2012): This is close to the earlier estimate provided by Dr. Farid Fadel on the 80%
living on not much more then 2 US$ per day or less then 2 US$ per day.
395. Margaret Coffey, “Protest and Religion Egypt - Perspectives on the Revolution,” Arab-
West Report, Week 9, Art 21, February 27, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
Transcript of interview by Margaret Coffey of Encounter, a program of ABC radio, Australia on
Egypt’s minority Christians.
“The Christian population of Egypt numbers about ten per cent - but eighty per cent of Egyptian
emigrants are Christian, and Australia is home to 80,000 Coptic Christians from Egypt.” The
Christian proportion of the Egyptian population is disputed. Ten per cent is the commonly
quoted figure, including by the US Department of State.
396. Cornelis Hulsman, “Egypt's Christians After Mubarak,” Christianity Today in Arab West
Report, Week 9, Art 18, March 5, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“There is much to make Christians in Egypt anxious about their relationship with Muslims. […]
today's resignation of President Hosni Mubarak signals changes that may make Christians'
presence more precarious. It's no wonder that the country's Christian minority is praying for
peace more fervently than ever.
Many Christian leaders believe that the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic political group banned
in Egypt, will grow in political power with Mubarak's ouster. The brotherhood maintains strong
support among some Egyptians. Religious-freedom analysts believe the leaders of the
brotherhood, famous for the slogan "Islam is the solution," could very well usher in repression of
all minority religious groups. Christians are Egypt's largest minority, representing 6 to 10 percent
of Egypt's 85 million people. About 90 percent of all Christians in Egypt are Orthodox.
Egypt hosts a small but influential population of Protestants and evangelicals (more than
250,000), mostly located in Cairo and other major cities. Most are either Presbyterian, Methodist,
or Anglican, and many congregations are linked to the Evangelical Fellowship of Egypt. In
addition to churches, dozens of ministries and agencies maintain sizable operations in Egypt.
SAT-7, the Arabic-language Christian satellite broadcast channel, has 65 employees at its offices
The 40 percent of Egyptians who live below the poverty line are a key factor in driving
discontent, especially among undereducated, jobless youth.
Outside poor, urban areas, the problems for rural Christians are just as worrisome. A century
ago, 80 percent of all Egyptian Christians lived in rural Upper Egypt. Today the figure stands at
40 percent, at best.”
397. Cornelis Hulsman, “Interesting political developments in Egypt,” Arab-West Report,
March 7, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-10/16-interesting-
Comments from a senior Egyptian diplomat who wanted to remain anonymous. I have added to
this my own statistics from the 2006 census and link to a blog.
The motor against the revolution or revolt were the youth. It is therefore important to give some
figures from the 2006 census:
Age Total number % Of population
< 20 7845508 10.8
20-30 4711365 6.5
30-60 57620146 79.3
60-75 1700170 2.4
> 75 736163 1
MN (May 2012): Data layout in the table has been modified due to the sake of readability. The original can be found
on AWR, by following the link in the citation above.
Rather unexpectedly, unemployment among Egypt’s youth generally rises with educational level.
This phenomenon is contrary to what is experienced in most Western nations where those with a
higher level of education generally have a lower rate of unemployment. When one sees
employment statistics like these, it is no wonder that there is a sense of anger and hopelessness
among young Egyptians. I wonder how Western youth, most particularly those who have
invested in post-secondary education, would behave toward those who are in control of our
governments if their economic futures were as bleak.
It is no wonder that many of these youth feel they had little to no chances to develop
themselves. The general public sympathized with them. They all shared one word, ‘suffering’ or
‘pain.’ The old regime refused to listen to clear indications of pain and suffering and they paid
for this. These indicators should have served as warning signals but they were neglected. Many
youth are elated about their achievements. No one on January 25 would have dared to think that
people and government would listen to them. No one would have imagined the changes that have
happened in the past weeks.
How many Egyptians supported the revolution? Six to ten million at most. 43% of the population
of 80 million is below 18 years old. People of 60+ make up around 6 percent of population. Most
of them were not involved in revolutionary actions. 6 to 8 million Egyptians live abroad. 1,5
million now return from Libya. Many of those would be supportive of the revolution. This means
that perhaps 20 to 30 percent of the population that could have been politically active
participated in the revolution. Other Egyptians want stability, work and income. There is an anti-
revolutionary movement, but they try to oppress them before they start talking. On February 28
some 500,000 people had gathered at the Mustafa Mahmoud mosque in Mohandesseen. They
were people who do not want demonstrations at Tahrir Square to continue. They were asking for
stability. They wanted to go to Tahrir, but the army did not allow them to go there.
Statistics of Copts in Egypt
The Egyptian census of 2006 did not release the number of Christians in Egypt, unlike previous
censuses. The diplomat responded “The president wanted to avoid the irritation of the church and
thus believed it would be better not to mention the number of Christians at all. Of course the
State Security has the figures. They have access to the registration registers. The number of
Christians is one of the taboos in Egypt.”
398. Cardinal Patriarch Antonius Naguib, “Egypt, Today, Yesterday and Tomorrow,” Arab-
West Report, Week 11, Art 46, March 15, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
The article provides very interesting information including numbers. Information that indicates
several of variables that could be the motivation behind migration:
“The policy of privatisation was carried out to the detriment of the country and the benefit of
middlemen, ministers and businessmen. Officially 20% of the population own 40% of the
country’s wealth. In actual fact no more than 10% hold 70% of this wealth. The former system
benefited above all political and financial elite.
The great majority of people suffer from poverty, and indeed from misery. More than 40% of the
population, which is evaluated at around 85 million, live below the poverty level ($2 per day).
Over the last ten years there has been a continuous and uncontrolled rise in prices, even of basic
foodstuffs, at 4% per year. The situation of the poor, and thus of the majority, has grown visibly
worse, particularly since Egypt is not independent as regards food supplies, importing for
instance 55% of its wheat.
Social problems abound. The level of population growth stands at 2% per year, accordingly one
and a half million. Unemployment is widespread, especially among the youth. Housing at an
affordable price is impossible to find, thus making it difficult to start a family, and blocking all
hope for the future. There has been deterioration in the sectors of health and education and in the
infrastructure. The State allocates only 3% of its GDP (Gross Domestic Product) to education, an
amount which is extremely low. Public education is disastrous, both from the educational and the
financial points of view, while private schools and universities have become profitable
businesses, without being too concerned about the level of education imparted. Officially public
schools and universities are free, yet in fact they cost a fortune since it is necessary to have
recourse to private tuition to attain the required level.”
399. Cornelis Hulsman, “Upon the presentation of the Missio publication on Egypt,” Arab-
West Report, Week 11, Art 54, March 15, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“There is a proportional decline of Christians in Egypt from 8 percent in the 1960s to
approximately 5.5 percent today. These figures are disputed by the church but even if we accept
somewhat higher figures, the fact is that Christians are facing a proportional decline. There is
frequent migration from Upper Egypt to Cairo and the West. There are numerous examples of
conversion to Islam. Estimates differ, but if we accept a natural increase of Christians of 100,000
per year, half of this being female, and we see five to ten thousand young women per year
converting to Islam, then this is very serious. This also explains Pope Shenouda’s great
sensitivity towards conversion issues. Inflating numbers of Christians is dangerous because it
makes young people believe they are – as a community – stronger than they really are. Inflating
numbers and comparing them with the proportion of Christians in prominent positions increases
feelings of discrimination and persecution.
Anyone who wants to improve Muslim-Christian relations in Egypt and the ongoing decline of
Christianity in Egypt needs to work hard to improve this general atmosphere.”
400. Dīnā 'Izat, “American Political Science Professor: Islamists won't get more than 25
percent of seats,” Al-Shurūq a -Jad d in Arab West Report, Week 13, Art 34, March 28,
2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-13/34-american-political-
“According to Alfred Stepan, Muslim Brotherhood and the total number of Islamists will not win
more than 25 percent of votes in any free election. The American Professor of Political Science
therefore claimed, worrying about Islamists getting to power is overemphasized. Stepan is
specialized in democratic developments, especially in third world countries.
People who say that Copts or women cannot have this or that position is not from Islam, because
Islam does not accept discrimination, according to Stepan.
Stepan believes that any Islamic coalition that gathers the MB or other Islamists in any upcoming
parliament will not take more than 30 percent as a maximum. 25 percent will go for the MB, not
401. Cornelis Hulsman, “Religious and Cultural developments in Arab and European
Countries and their impact on politics,” Arab-West Report, Week 15, Art 45, April 15, 2011.
The article provides information about best and worst case scenarios of Egypt. The worst-case
scenario, which is based on statistical information, indicates possible reasons for migration:
o Over 50% of the population cannot read or write
o 40% of the population is living on less then 1,5 euro per person per day and with
foodprices increasing their lives are becoming increasingly difficult.
o Around 80% is living on close to 1,5 Euros per person per day and thus the
middle and higher class consists of perhaps 20% of population only with no more
than 10% of people holding 70% of Egypt’s wealth.
o Over 50% of the population is between 16 and 30 years old, six million off them
are unemployed and have very few prospects for a better future and are open to
preaching that offers them hope for a better future.
o Social problems abound. Egypt is overpopulated with 85 million inhabitants in a
country the size of The Netherlands (Delta and valley), the level of population
growth stands at 2% per year. Unemployment is widespread, especially among
the youth. Housing at an affordable price is impossible to find, thus making it
difficult to start a family, and blocking all hope for the future. There has been
deterioration in the sectors of health and education and in the infrastructure. The
State allocates only 3% of its GDP (Gross Domestic Product) to education, an
amount which is extremely low. Public education is disastrous.
o Water shortages are increasing which will make it harder for Egypt to increase
o Salafis mostly draw their support from the poor and uneducated. It is here that the
government has been negligent and that religious groups, including Muslim
Brothers, are well organized.
o Egypt is moving rapidly into a huge economical crisis; national income has
greatly fallen while government employees, policemen, factory workers, are
regularly demonstrating for substantial pay rises. Western companies are
continuing to withdraw from Egypt, inflation is expected to increase and so are
food prices. The demonstrators are greatly encouraged through the rumor that
Mubarak and the people surrounding him have collected hundreds of billions of
dollars. No doubt they have benefited from corruption but the numbers they are
supposed to have stolen are staggering high and beliefs that if demonstrations
continue that these hundreds of billions will return to the people is fully
unrealistic, creating an explosive mix of hopes that cannot be fulfilled.
o Insecurity has increased the call for a strong man.”
402. 'Āshraf Sādik, “Copts dream of sectarian-free nation,” Egyptian Gazette in Arab West
Report, Week 11, Art 12, May 14, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“[…] Egypt's Christians demanded the government to adopt a much delayed unified code to ease
restrictions for church building permits, which would, according to the protesters, help end
sectarian strife in the country. The current unified law for building worship places, based on the
Ottoman Hamayouni Decree of 1856, requires the Copts to obtain the Government's approval for
restoring an old church, or issueing permits for building new ones.
The Copts say that this law would also deny claims that fundamental inequality between the
construction of mosques and churches do exist in Egypt. Father Mosseisse says that ‘At present,
there are only one thousand churches in Egypt and this number is not enough for the Coptic
community, whose population increases every year.’”
403. Cornelis Hulsman, “Christian girls converting to Islam; comments on Jihad Watch
reporting,” Arab-West Report, Week 21, Art 1, May 21, 2011. URL:
[…] a controversial report [was] published in 2009 on conversion and forced marriage of
Coptic women by Washington DC-based Christian Solidarity International. The authors
are Washington academic Michele Clark and Egyptian Coptic broadcast journalist
Nadīyā Ghālī, based in Melbourne. Between 2005 and 2008 they interviewed and
documented 50 Egyptian women, mostly aged between 14 and 25, who had decided to
return to their families. All claim to have been tricked, coerced or raped, converted to
Islam and married. Most of the interviewees were trying to reconvert to their Christian
identity, with limited or no success. The report's conclusions were printed in several
major publications, including Forbes magazine.
404. Qutb al-'Arabī, “Worship houses law: Trick or treat?” Al-Akhbār in Arab-West Report,
Week 21, Art 44, May 25, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-
Is the the issuance of a unified law on building houses of worship going to be the end of misery
and the end of fitnah? Qutb al-'Arabī answers 'no' because this law will be applied on all
religions equally, churches and mosques. That means that, according to the United Nations,
every individual will have a minimum of 46 cm and a maximum of 100 cm of worship house.
This means that the census of Copts has to be revealed, and based on this the number and space
of churches will be determined. Furthermore, any Christian denomination will have the right to a
worship house, like Bishop Maximus' church (CH: who split from the Coptic Orthodox Church.
Orthodox have opposed him opening his own churches). In addition, the church will be affiliated
to the State's Ministry of Awqaf [Endowments] which means that appointing priests will be
determined by the ministry. Also, donations made to the church will go to the ministry.
CH: The author links church building to revealing the numbers of Christians in Egypt but with
the affiliation to the Ministry of Awqaf (as is done with mosques) and appointments of priests by
the ministry (as the ministry does with imams) and donations he goes much too far. It, however,
reveals the thought of a Muslim author about the Christian wish to have a unified law for
building houses of worship.
405. Marqus Birtī, “Message from Virgin Mary Church priest in 'Ayn Shams,” Al-Ahrām in
Arab-West Report, Week 22, Art 12, May 28, 2011. URL:
Father Marqus Birtī, Father of the Virgin Mary Church in 'Ayn Shams, sent the following
letter to Al-Ahrām: In the meantime where elders succeeded in pacifying fitnah tā'ifīyah in 'Ayn
Shams, which is similar to Sūl and Imbābah, and the conciliatory agreement between both sides
that specified what will happen in the upcoming phase until the stabilization of the situation in
'Ayn Shams, we found an investigation in Al-Ahrām that did not present both points of views. It
neglected the Coptic point of view in 'Ayn Shams and provided unbacked statistics about Coptic
census in 'Ayn Shams.
406. Cornelis Hulsman, “The Treatment of Copts as an Indicator of Egyptian Democracy,”
Arab-West Report, Week 22, Art 39, June 3, 2011. URL:
In a recent opinion piece, Dutch-Israeli author Sharon Shaked argues that the way minorities are
treated in any country is an indicator of that country’s measure of democracy. I agree with this
statement, but I strongly disagree with the viciously anti-Islamic attitude found in Shaked’s
article. Concerning the number of Copts in Egypt, Shaked writes:
According to a statement of the Coptic Church, the Copts in 1975 formed twenty percent of the
population in Egypt. Now they comprise around 8 to 10 percent of the Egyptian population.
There are no official numbers known because since 1986 no census has mentioned the number of
Copts. Some researchers say that this was done to hide the real number of Egyptian Christians
out of fear that they would gain more power.
Hulsman responded: The truth is that a census is held every ten years in Egypt. All censuses
between 1897 and 1996 mention the official results of the number of Egyptian Christians. The
census of 2006 omitted this figure out of political consideration that Egyptian authorities did not
want an engagement with the Coptic Orthodox Church about the number of Christians in Egypt.
It is an urban myth that Copts comprised 20 percent of the Egyptian population in 1975. Copts
often refer to a figure allegedly provided by President Jimmy Carter in 1977 when he visited
Pope Shenouda. Carter supposedly stated that Pope Shenouda was the leader of 7 million Copts,
which then translated to approximately 19 percent of the population. But where is the official
record of this statement? Why not ask Carter if he ever even made such a statement? And even if
he did, how would the US government have been able to count the number of Copts in Egypt?
The US may be a powerful country, but no so powerful that it is able to make head counts in
References to vague, anonymous researchers are always suspect, and in this respect, Shaked
would do better to provide sources for these population figures. Established scholars as Philippe
Fargues and Youssef Courbage, who studied Coptic demographics throughout the centuries,
would certainly not support such claims. Who are these so-called researchers to which Shaked
407. Kirsti Itameri, “Egyptian expat votes up for grabs,” Egypt Independent, June 13, 2011.
“The World Bank estimates that in 2010, there were 3.7 million Egyptians, or about 4.5 percent
of the population, living abroad, though other estimates range from one to 12 million. The World
Bank ranks Egypt eleventh in the world for its number of emigrants and fourteenth in terms of
remittances received through official channels.
Ayman Zohry, president of the Egyptian Society for Migration Studies and chief author of the
2010 International Organization for Migration study on the Egyptian diaspora, estimates that
there are 7 to 8 million Egyptians living abroad, with approximately two-thirds living in other
408. Īhāb Ramzī, “Decree banning the construction of churches,” Akhbār a -Yawm in Arab
West Report, Week 26, Art 43, July 1, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“The fourth condition of Article II prevents building on agricultural land, except in extreme
cases, after approval of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Council of Ministers; which makes
taking approval impossible. There should be a thousand meters distance between two churches,
which is unfair, as there are some villages that have a large number of Copts who need more than
409. Cornelis Hulsman, “Estimating the number of Coptic Egyptians living abroad,” Arab-
West Report, Week 28, Art 1, July 9, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/ar/year-
Providing a comment on the article of al-Misr al-Youm, June 13, 2011:
“Ayman Zohry, president of the Egyptian Society for Migration Studies and chief author of the
2010 International Organization for Migration study on the Egyptian diaspora, estimates that
there are 7 to 8 million Egyptians living abroad, with approximately two-thirds living in other
Arab countries. Samer Soliman, an associate professor of political economy at the American
University in Cairo, estimates the expatriate population to be between 5 and 6 million.”
410. Robeir Al-Fāris, “Various Coptic opinions about migration,” Watani in Arab-West
Report, Week 28, Art 54, July 10, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
Prof. Nabīl Munīr, legal expert and an expatriate Copt for 20 years stated on a migration forum
in Cairo that following the start of the US immigration lottery, Asyut, al-Minya and Beni Suef
became the largest areas where Copts were migrating from.
411. Cornelis Hulsman, “Egyptian Court Ruling Allows Converts to Islam to Return to
Christianity,” Arab-West Report, Week 28, Art 53, July 15, 2011. URL:
“The Egyptian Supreme Administrative Court ruled on July 3 that Christians who had converted
to Islam but now wish to return to Christianity can be identified again as Christians on their
national identification cards.
Between 2005 and 2006, Peter al-Najjār was able to obtain 25 National ID cards for Christians
who had converted to Islam for various reasons and subsequently decided they wanted to return
It is generally easy for Christians who convert to Islam to obtain a Muslim ID. But for Muslims
who were born in a Muslim family and who convert to Christianity this is impossible. And for
Muslims who were originally Christian this is very hard. This is because some Muslim legal
experts have been working to make it impossible for Christian converts to Islam to return to their
faith of origin.”
412. Ali Abdel Mohsen, “Q&A: Mounir Saad, Egypt's Coptic vice-presidential candidate,” A -
i r a -Yawm in Arab-West Report, Week 32, Art 12, August 7, 2011. URL:
In 1992, Mounir Saad, an Egyptian economist and editor-in-chief of Arab Business Report
magazine. “I’m suggesting that the government run a population census, because every other
country in the world has one.” Accepting diversity is the solution to Egypt’s problems. (It should
be noted that the logo for Saad’s ‘Conscience of Egypt’ campaign consists entirely of a cross
attached to a crescent.)
Al-Masry: What makes you a good candidate? You don’t seem to have a strongly-defined
platform, so why would a presidential candidate choose you as his or her running mate?
Saad: I think the right man for the presidency, at this current moment, would be Sami Anan, even
though I myself am not at all what you would call a ‘military man.’ I believe Anan has the
experience to be able to deal with what’s going on right now, to grip this distressingly fluid
situation. However, I believe he should only run for one term - I even mentioned that on my
[promotional material]. I would not support him otherwise.
413. Fatmah Sayīd Ahmad, “2,869 churches, 108,395 mosques, says CAPMAS President,”
Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab-West Report, Week 36, Art 70, September 4-10, 2011. URL:
Fatmah Sayīd Ahmad asked Major General Abū Bakr al-Jindī, President of the Central Agency
for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) for transparency in publishing all available
figures of Christians and Nubians in Egypt. The president of the CAPMAS responds that there
are no hidden figures and that all information is public. He says the CAPMAS followed a
recommendation of the United Nations for the census of 1996 and 2006 in not obligating anyone
to answer questions about his religion “because his religion only concerns himself, hence the
question became optional and its figures cannot be representative.” The CAPMAS director,
however, provided information about the number of churches and mosques in Egypt.
414. Cornelis Hulsman, “Meeting Dr. Jamāl Hāshim, expert population research CAPMAS on
the number of Christians in Egypt,” Arab-West Report, Week 38, Art 71, September 21,
2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-38/71-meeting-dr-jamal-
Dr. Jamāl Hāshim, who researches statistics on the use of medicine for the CAPMAS and visits
bishoprics, discusses Coptic marriage age and the Egyptian census and other records on Coptic
statistics. The census starting in 2006 no longer includes statistics about religious
denominations. He believes the decline of Copts in Egypt is to a large extent due to the
difference in the age of marriage between Coptic women and Muslim women.
415. Hawida Yahya, “Kamāl Zākhir supports resignations but sticks with Coptic Church,”
Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West Report, Week 38, Art 63, September 22, 2011. URL:
“Kamāl Zākhir, general coordinator of the laymen Copts movement […] asserts that the
resignations from the Coptic denomination flooding in from a huge number of Copts has been a
wake-up call for the church, saying they now need to properly address the problems facing Copts
who are being denied civil rights and quality of life.”
416. Dr. Nājīb Jabrā'īl, “EUHRO: Message of warning for military council and Egypt's
government,” Arab-West Report, Week 39, Art 41, September 25, 2011. URL:
The article provides information about expatriate Copts in the US:
“Najīb Jabrā'īl, the Chairman of EUHRO, says that Copts are migrating outside Egypt
involuntarily due to the salafist hard-line threats and lack of protection from the Egyptian regime
for them. He said that EUHRO has monitored the migration of more than 100,000 Copts to the
United States, Canada, Australia and Europe after March 19, 2011.
He added that the Copts' migration was not driven by poverty or the need for work. The persons
who left Egypt are good young men and businessmen who have fears about hard-line salafist
threats and their consequent impact on their lives and businesses.
Jabrā'īl noted that if the migration of Copts went on this way, the figures might by up to nearly
250,000 by the end of 2011 and even could increase to include one-third of Egyptian Christians
in ten years' time, which would normally menace the demographic composition and economy of
The EUHRO has obtained some rates about Egypt's migration abroad based information from
Coptic assemblies and churches outside Egypt:
• About 16,000 to Los Angeles, California.
• About 10,000 to New Jersey.
• About 8,000 to New York.
• About 8,000 to other states in America.
• About 14,000 to Australia.
• About 9,000 in Montreal, Canada.
• About 8,000 in Toronto, Canada.
• About 20,000 all over Europe, namely in the Netherlands, Italy, England, Austria, Germany
Copts make 16% of the overall population in Egypt. However, if this drain continued this way,
the rate would be down to 10% or even less, a matter that could cause imbalance in the
demographic composition in Egypt and consequently pose a hazard to the Egyptian economy, of
which Copts represent a key mainstay.”
417. Emad Khalil, “NGO report: 93,000 Copts left Egypt since March,” Egypt Independent,
September 26, 2011. URL: http://www.egyptindependent.com/node/499187.
Nearly 93,000 Coptic Christians have left Egypt since 19 March 2011. The number may increase
to 250,000 by the end of 2011, according to Naguib Gabriel, the head of the Egyptian Federation
of Human Rights, which released the report.
418. Numayrī Shūmān and Rāmī Rushdī, “5 million Coptic votes crucial in coming elections,”
Al-Fajr in Arab West Report, Week 39, Art 14, September 26, 2011. URL:
“Najīb Jabrā’īl, Coptic activist and legal advisor, said Copts' participation in the forthcoming
elections would not go beyond 1% or 1.5%, the same rate of participation for 20 years.
Mamdūh Ramzī, the assistant leader of the Reform and Development Party, who also runs on the
party's lists in the coming People's Assembly elections, said that the Copts will never see success
except under the proportional representation system. "Christians make 20% of Egyptians with a
population of 19-20 million. Sixty-nine percent of them, about 7.6 million, are eligible voters,
which form a good voting bloc but they are not effective in the end," said Ramzī.”
419. Author Not Mentioned, “Pope Shenouda rejects foreign intervention in Egyptian affairs,”
Press Review in Arab West Report, Week 39, Art 22, September 26, 2011. URL:
“A report by an Egypt-based Coptic NGO this week claimed that nearly 93,000 Copts have left
Egypt since 19 March. The number may increase to 250,000 by the end of 2011, according to
Naguib Gabriel, the head of the Egyptian Federation of Human Rights, which released the report.
Meanwhile, the three major Christian churches in Egypt denied the authenticity of Gabriel’s
report. A senior Coptic Church official said there are no accurate statistics about the number of
Copts who have emigrated from Egypt.”
MN (May 2012): The article which has been translated is taken from al-Misri al-Yawm English
website, who took it from the Middle East News Agency (MENA). Because of this it has no
author on al-Misri al-Yawm.
420. Cornelis Hulsman, “Christians leaving the Middle East; Robert Fisk too optimistic in
presenting numbers and proportions,” Arab-West Report, Week 39, Art 42, September 27,
2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-39/42-christians-leaving-
Analysis of inflated figures that Robert Fisk of The Independent publishes on the percentages of
Christians in the Middle East. He lists Egyptian Christians at 10%, for example, a figure which is
actually closer to 5.5%. A table is presented that is based on research of Dr. Philippe Fargues
showing the proportion of Christians in all countries in the Middle East since 1894. The table
shows a decline starting with the First World War.
421. Mary Abdelmassih, “100,000 Christians Have Left Egypt Since March: Report,”
Assyrian International News Agency (AINA), September 27, 2011. URL:
The Egyptian Union of Human Rights Organizations (EUHRO) published a report today on
emigration of Christians from Egypt, saying that nearly 100,000 Christians have emigrated since
422. Jayson Casper, “Burning the Dome: AWR Investigates Sectarian Violence in
Edfu,” Arab West Report, Week 40, Art 11, October 2, 2011. URL:
“On Friday, September 30, 2011 a structure purported to be a church was attacked and destroyed
in the village of Mari-Nab, near Idfū, in the governorate of Aswan.
Mari-Nab is a large village with a population of over 50,000, but with a very small Christian
presence. Muslim testimony estimated no more than 30 Christians in the whole village, while
Christian testimony varied from between 30-50 families. Testimony from security personnel
estimated 70 Christian people.
Following Friday prayers Muslim youths descended on the church and began to destroy the
domes. Christian testimony puts their number at around 3000, while security estimated around
CH (May 2012): This article shows how numbers even on a local scale on village level are
disagreed upon and varies significantly. The reasons are arguments whether Copts in the village
should be entitled to a larger church or not.
423. Majdī Fikrī, “NGO Director: I called for parliamentary quota for Copts,” Al-
Dustūr in Arab West Report, Week 40, Art 52, October 6, 2011. URL:
“Dr. Sa‘d al-Dīn Ibrāhīm, the director of Ibn Khaldoun Center, emphasized that he asked for a
parliamentary quota, ranging between 15 percent and 20 percent for Copts. “Pope Shenouda
stood against the idea and told me ‘We are not a minority and we do not need a quota for Copts,’
424. Cornelis Hulsman, “Commenting on Al-Ahram Weekly’s ‘Trigger for Copts'
Anger: El-Marinab Church as a Model’,” Arab-West Report, Week 41, Art 25, October
11, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-41/25-commenting-al-
“Individuals claiming to represent the Muslims of El-Marinab said they objected to building a
church in the village because they claimed that the numbers of Copts in the village of 18,000
Muslims was only 75, and asserted that such a small presence did not warrant the construction of
“Copts countered that the church has been in the village for decades, and showed documents and
licenses proving that it has been recognized as a Christian house of worship by the government,
and all villagers, since it was built in 1949. Furthermore, Copts asserted that 250 of them lived in
the village, and not 75 as the extremists claimed.”
425. Dīnā Darwīsh, “Copts: Migration is sometimes coercive,” Al-Shurūq a -Jad d in Arab-
West Report, Week 41, Art 29, October 12, 2011. URL:
The claims of the Egyptian Union for Human Rights Organization about the 100,000 Copts
having migrated since March 19, 2011, are disputed by Kamāl Zākhir and others (names not
mentioned), The author states that the Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelic churches have rejected
the report, stating that there is no accurate statistics of the migration of Copts. Egyptian
authorities take a neutral position in confirming or rejecting the information of the report. Many
Copts state that they fear for the future of Egypt and their political status, especially after the
expansion of the extremist Islamic currents. In general, those who seek migration are escaping
tension and the state of insecurity befalling the country.
426. Hānī Labīb, “(The Game of Numbers) regarding the number of Copts and their
Churches,” Arab-West Report, Week 42, Art 36, October 20, 2011. URL:
Provides statistics on number of Christians in Egypt since 1966. The debate on the number of
statistics is related to that of the construction of churches “and whether there is a need for more
to be built. This is the main problem that caused sectarian tensions and crises during the last ten
427. Muhammad al-Bāz, “Copts are 20 million, says civil registry official,” Al-Fajr in Arab-
West Report, Week 43, Art 12, October 20-24, 2011. URL:
Copts in Egypt, according to a Civil Registry Department official citing birth certificates and
National ID cards, are 20 million. According to al-al-Bāz “Copts tend to exaggerate saying that
they are between 10-15 million, a figure contested by Muslim extremists who put it at only 3-5
million.” But, real figures are higher than what Copts claim al-al-Bāz claims.
428. Author Not Mentioned. “EP ‘Joint Motion for Resolution’ condemns violence against
Copts,” Arab-West Report, Week 43, Art 60, October 25, 2011. URL:
“The European Parliament (EP) issued the "Joint Motion for Resolution" document that
condemns the attack on Coptic protesters in Maspero incidents on October 9, 2011 along with EP
condemnation for other violent acts against Christian communities in the Arab world.
4. Calls on the Egyptian authorities to ensure full respect for all fundamental rights, including
freedom of association, freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of
religion, conscience and thought for all citizens in Egypt, including the Coptic Christians, and
that Coptic Christian communities do not fall victim to violent attacks and can live in peace and
freely express their beliefs throughout the country; calls for the adequate protection of the
churches in order to put an end to the continuous aggression and destruction of churches by
Islamic extremists; welcomes continued efforts to adopt a ‘Common Code for building places of
worship’; stresses that the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion is a fundamental
right guaranteed by legal instruments; urges the Egyptian authorities to end discrimination
against Coptic Christians, for example by deleting references to religion from all official
documents, and to ensure equal dignity and equal opportunities for all citizens in Egypt to have
access to all public and political posts, including representation in the armed forces, in
Parliament and in Government; […].
429. Shirīf al-Shubāshī, “Those who want to see Egypt without Copts,” Al-Ahrām in Arab-
West Report, Week 43, Art 34, October 26, 2011. URL:
The author describes the report of Naguib Gabriel as an “alarm bell.” It reveals “that the mass
migration of Copts has already begun.” The author believes that there are ill-hearted people who
would like to see Egypt without Coptic Christians without mentioning names of such people or
groups. “I would like to emphasize that there will be no real democracy in Egypt unless Copts
get all their full rights as first-class citizens. Egypt will not see stability unless Christians and
Muslim became tritely equal.”
CH (May 2012): This is an opinion article that appears to be written by an opponent of Islamists.
430. Muhammad 'Abd al-Qādir, Mahmūd Ramzī, and Muhammad Gharīb, “Coptic
candidates...A new bet on parties' lists,” A - i r a -Yawm in Arab West Report, Week 43,
Art 55, October 28, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-43/55-
“[…] the Democratic alliance list only included three Copts from all governorates. They will
represent al-Sāhil constituency and Shubrā, the largest Coptic community.
As for al-Wafd Party, it included 23 Copts in its lists.”
431. Nada Hussein Rashwan, “Egypt Pope orders first post-revolution count of Christian
population,” Al-Ahram Online, October 31, 2011. URL:
A census to be conducted by the Coptic Church will be its first to tally Christians from all
denominations in Egypt to counter official attempts at under-counting Egypt's largest religious
minority. Information forms will be distributed and collected by dioceses across the country and
submitted to provincial bishoprics. Results will then be compiled and submitted directly to the
Pope. An unofficial census, conducted by a number of Christian organisations in cooperation
with the Church, published figures on Sunday showing the entire Christian population of Egypt
neared 17 million, around 20 per cent of the population. The latest government estimates of the
Egyptian Christian population stated they made up around 4 per cent (around 3.3 million) of the
total population of around 83 million. This figure was refuted by Pope Shenouda III in 2008,
who said the Coptic Orthodox population on its own made up around 12 million. This article was
criticized by Cornelis Hulsman in Arab-West Report, 2011, Week 44, Art 29.
432. Cornelis Hulsman, “Lack of transparency causes debate on Coptic population statistics,”
Arab-West Report, Week 44, Art 29, November 1, 2011. URL:
Hulsman critiques the articles of Muhammad al-Baz Nada Hussein Rashwan since the claims
they registered about the number of Christians in Egypt conflicts with that of research of Dr.
Philippe Fargues, statements of bishops showing the church lacks the apparatus to do systematic
population research and CAPMAS population expert Dr. Jamāl Hāshim who stated that the
proportion of Christians in Egypt is declining which is primarily due to Christians having smaller
433. Cornelis Hulsman, “Does the Shari’a prohibit building churches?” Arab-West Report,
Week 44, Art 39, November 4, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-
Dutch Arabist Hans Jansen argues that Copts are killed when they violate Shari’a.
“Not all Muslims always want to kill when Christians violate the rules of the Shari’a, but the
number that is willing to use deadly violence was, in October 2011, also large enough to create
tens of Coptic martyrs.”
“Jansen does not explain who these “Shari’a fundamentalists” are but no doubt his reference is to
a limited number of people who interpret the Shari’a in a way that is very restrictive to
Christians. Who are these people? And how representative are they for Muslims in modern
Egypt? Jansen admits in his article that their numbers do not need to be large. “The argument is
not about precise figures and the amount of support they are able to generate in Egypt. The
argument is that this is a group that knows how to obtain what it wants which is costing the lives
of others,” he writes!
434. Cornelis Hulsman, “Political misuse of Christian suffering in Egypt; blaming Muslims in
general for the acts of thugs and extremists is unjust!” Arab-West Report, Week 44, Art 40,
November 4, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-44/40-political-
Hulsman provides critique on a text of the PVV spokesman for Foreign Affairs, Raymond de
Roon, MP for the party of Geert Wilders, published on October 11, 2011. De Roon refers to
Naguib Gabriel of The Egyptian Union of Human Rights Organizations (EUHRO) who states
that Egyptian Christians make up “nearly 16% of the Egyptian population,” and that if
emigration continues “at the present rate, it may reach 250,000 by the end of 2011".
435. 'Imād Khalīl, “Copts angry … Papal Residence prevents propaganda in churches,” A -
i r a -Yawm in Arab West Report, Week 45, Art 2, November 5, 2011. URL:
“A state of anger prevailed among Copts due the few Coptic candidates on parties’ slates,
although there are big parties founded by Copts. However, the total number of candidates does
not exceed 120 candidates.”
“Michael Munīr, the president of al-Hayāh party, said that the Coptic representation is not
enough, expecting that number of successful candidates in parliamentary elections amounts to 15
436. Shirīf al-Shubāshī, “Those who doubt the Coptic loyalty,” Al-Ahrām in Arab West
Report, Week 45, Art 11, November 9, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
The author “wonders about the number of Coptic spies or traitors in the history of modern
Egypt? He, then, claims that they are less than 10 percent which also represents their numerical
percentage in the Egyptian society. Hence, if the theory of ratio and proportionality is taken into
account, there will be no place for the claim that the Copts tend to the West and are more likely
437. 'Imād Habīb, “70 Copts to face MB, salafists in elections,” A - u a ar in Arab West
Report, Week 45, Art 28, November 9, 2011, http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
“A total of 70 Copts nationwide have decided to run in the forthcoming presidential elections, a
figure almost the same as those who used to run in elections during the past 30 years.”
“However, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party (ESDP) was the one that named the largest
number of Coptic candidates, up to 20, including Dr. 'Imād Jād, an expert at the Al-Ahrām
Center for Political and Strategic Studies.
The North Cairo constituency is witnessing a cut-throat competition among Coptic candidates,
particularly after Rāmī Lakah and Amīn Iskandar from al-Karāmah Party decided to run there to
confront Hāzim Fārūq, the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB)'s Freedom and Justice
Party and a former People's Assembly member, and Mamdūh Ismā'īl, a lawyer and deputy leader
of the salafi al-Asālah (Authenticity) Party.
George Ishaq will run in the elections for the first time in Port Said against MB candidate Akram
438. ‘Amr al-Misri, “Senator Sam Brownback spearheads anti-Egypt campaign of hatred,
Meunir continues fanning sectarian flame,” Media Review in Arab West Report, Week 46,
Art 41, November 9, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2005/week-46/41-
“Meunir claims to speak on behalf of 700,000 Copts in the United States although recent
official statistics assert that there are less than 150,000 Americans of Egyptian origin. He
urged the Egyptian government to make the Coptic language, along with Arabic, an official
language of the state and to end discrimination against Copts in the army and police.”
439. Ahmad al-Bihayrī and 'Imād Khalīl, “Members of the “Family House” and the 3
Churches welcome draft law on houses of worship and demand speedy issuance,” Press
Review in Arab West Report, Week 45, Art 25, November 11, 2011. URL:
“A number of the Azhar Scholars, members of the ‘Egyptian Family House’ and the three
Egyptian churches welcomed the draft law on building houses of worship.”
“Rev. Dr. Andrea Zakī, deputy of the head of the Evangelical denomination, confirmed his
approval for what appeared in the draft and called its speedy issuance. According to him, it will
solve more than 50 percent of the sectarian problems and will put an end to the major problem
facing the Copts in Egypt.”
440. Cornelis Hulsman, “Egyptian Election Procedures Could Benefit Copts,” Arab-West
Report, Week 46, Art 29, November 19, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
On November 28, the first round of the elections for Egypt's parliament (the People's
Assembly or Majlis Al-Sha'b), start in Egypt. The Egyptian parliament will consist of 498
members. Of these, a third of the seats (166 members) are elected by absolute majority
vote in their own electoral district through a two-round system to serve 5-year terms.
Every district contains two seats and electors are given two votes. At least one seat in
each district is reserved for a worker or farmer. Two-thirds of the seats in Parliament (332
members) are elected through a closed-list proportional representation system in each of
the 46 districts, which are divided within Egypt’s 27 governorates. Since in the past there
were practically no districts with a Coptic majority, Copts only stood a chance at being
elected if they were supported by a good share of the Muslim electorate. In the new
proportional system, Copts in governorates with a substantial Coptic minority, such as the
governorate of Minia, which according to CAPMAS had a Coptic population of about 20
percent in 1996, will have much better chances to get elected.
441. Jayson Casper, “Early Election Observations in Egypt,” Arab-West Report, Week 48, Art
25, November 28, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-48/25-early-
The author gives his estimate (percentage of the people present) on how the religion affected
the way the Egyptians voted at the 2011 election following the January revolution earlier that
“Second, given that in Egypt one’s religion can be outwardly identifiable, I can make some
very rudimentary and cautious exit poll guesses. In the men’s line, about 20% of the people
wore long robes, had heavy beards, or prominent prayer calluses on their foreheads. These
are often signs of being a conservative Muslim, particularly of the Salafī trend. A beard and
robe can be worn by any Muslim, of course, many of whom do not support political Islam.
Many Brotherhood supporters, meanwhile, do not necessarily have distinctive dress, and
many ordinary non-Islamist Egyptians may vote for the Freedom and Justice Party, given
their longstanding role as an opposition party and the relative newness of other liberal
As for the women, perhaps around 30% of those in line were non-veiled. This indicates in
general that there are Coptic, or else Muslims willing to resist the cultural pressures to wear a
head covering. This segment of society would be unlikely to vote Islamist, though some may.
To note, only about 10% or less of the population is Coptic, and though I have no official
estimates, non-veiled Muslim women appear to be a similar minority. On the other hand,
wearing a veil is no necessary indicator of political affiliation. I saw only a handful of
women wearing the niqāb, which covers all but the slit over the eyes. This could be reflective
of conservative tendency, but as in all the above deductions, caution is needed above all.”
MN (May 2012): It has to be stressed that these estimates made in this article are solely
based on the author’s own presumptions and impressions as well as the knowledge he has
about religion in the Egyptian society, hence NOT an empirical study.
442. Jayson Casper, “Coptic Preparations for Elections, in Tanta,” Arab-West Report, Week
48, Art 26, November 30, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-
“From before the revolution, many Copts have realized their community suffers from a dearth of
political and civic participation. Copts are commonly constituted as 10% of the population. They
may be as low as 5-6%, and one partisan estimate tallied them as high as 20%. Regardless, if all
mobilized they would have much electoral sway.”
443. Rajab Ramadān, “70% of Alexandria Copts cast their votes in election,” A - i r a -
Yawm in Arab West Report, Week 48, Art 16, December 1, 2011. URL:
“The Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria estimated the Copts' participation in Egypt's first
parliamentary elections after the January 25 revolution at more than 70% of the total Coptic
population, terming the figure as "unprecedented in the history of the church".
The Egyptian center for development and human rights studies indicated in a statement that the
number of voters in Alexandria 324,238 who cast their ballots in 3,349 polling sub-units
(Reviewer's note: The article did not say if this number refers to all population in Alexandria or it
is just the number of Copts in the city).”
444. Hānī Labīb, “Coptic-Islamist showdown,” Arab-West Report, 45, December 4, 2011.
“Results of the first round of Egypt's first post-Mubārak parliamentary elections, as announced
by the High Judicial Elections Commission (HJEC) showed progress by the Democratic Alliance
for Egypt, in which the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) obtained 40% of
the votes, followed by the Salafī al-Nūr Party 25%, the liberal Egyptian Bloc 15%, al-Wafd 11%,
al-Wasat (Centrist) 6% and the al-'Adl (Justice) with a paltry 1%.”
The total number of eligible voters in the first round hit 13.614.625 million, 62% against 38%
who did not cast their votes, considered the highest turnout ever in Egypt. (Al-Ahrām, December
4, 2011). The first round has seen a massive turnout by Egyptian Christian citizens, coinciding
with the emergence of political Islam groups that expressed strict positions against Copts in
many of their TV appearances.”
445. Muhammad Ibrāhīm Al-Disūqī, “Christian migration,” Al-Ahrām in Arab-West Report,
Week 49, Art 20, December 7, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-
36,000 Coptic emigrants settled in the US since March 2011. Archpriest Salīb Mattá of Saint
George Church of Shubrā said another 10,000 Christians indicated they want to emigrate.
Reasons are fear for the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis coming to power.
446. Diana Maher Ghali, “AWR Daily Overview, December 25, 2011: Scenarios for easing
tension between revolution and SCAF,” Press Review in Arab West Report, Week 52, Art 13,
December 25, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-52/13-awr-daily-
overview-december-25-2011-scenarios-easing-tension-between-revolution (Sahar Dīyā' al-
Dīn, al-Wafd, Dec. 25, p.4).
“[…] an official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied figures about the number of Coptic
migrants because of religious persecution after the revolution. Media reports had noted that the
Ministry had the number of 45,000 Copts migrated because of religious discrimination in Egypt.
(Sahar Dīyā' al-Dīn, al-Wafd, Dec. 25, p.4)”
447. 'Amr Al-Misrī, “AWR Daily Overview, December 29, 2011: Christians are 5% of Egypt's
population, says CAPMAS chief,” Al-Ahrām in Arab-West Report, Week 52, Art 43,
December 29, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-52/43-awr-daily-
“Copts are making about 5% of an Egyptian population of 81 million, which is growing by 4500
souls daily, said AbūBakr al-Jindī, the president of the Central Agency for Public Mobilization
and Statistics (CAPMAS).” He repeated statements also made in earlier interviews that religion
concerns the private relation between a man and God. “The question about religion during the
census and surveys is an optional one that is answered by some and refused by others, noting the
spaces left for religion questions include Muslim, Christian, Jew and others. ‘It is not my
business if this or that is Shiite, Salafist or other.’”
"Christians are more inclined to migrate. Their scientific and economic conditions are mostly
high and consequently have less children (compared to Muslims) and that is why their rate in the
society is down 0.1% or 0.2% in each census. This should explain why their rate reached 5.7% in
1986, and accordingly they are now about 5% of the total population in Egypt," said the
448. Cornelis Hulsman, “Christian leader: No fear for Islamist landslide in Egypt,” Arab-West
Report, Week 1, Art 22, January 1, 2012. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
Interview with Yūsuf Sīdhum of Watanī International containing a section on “Christian Figures
in Egypt”. Lawyer Najīb Jubrā'īl presented a press release stating that some 100,000 Christians
have left Egypt since the Revolution. Sīdhum: “Najīb Jubrā'īl is not telling the truth. Many
foreign media outlets have called me about this. I wonder—how is it possible that people accept
such a text that does not mention its sources? We at Watanī have tried to investigate this. We
went to all major embassies and asked them for migration figures of 2010 and 2011 in order to
make comparisons. The US has a quota system for countries (CH: through the so-called lottery
system) and has allotted 50,000 spots per year to Egyptians. The Embassy told me this goal of
50,000 per year from Egypt has not yet been achieved. This is the most important immigration
country. Say 50 percent of these 50,000 migrants would be Christian. That would make 25,000
Christians migrants. Canada and Australia fall far short of US numbers. The number of migrants
that went to Holland, the UK, France, and Germany cannot be more than a few hundred people.
Thus when we calculate this we cannot possibly reach the number that Najīb Jubrā'īl has given.”
The total number of Christians in Egypt is not important to Sidhom. “I do not want to go into
side discussions about numbers. We should focus on citizenship rights. I do not want to link
building a church to the number of Christians as people often do. I want the freedom to build.
The media can make a huge commotion about the kidnapping of one girl. If that happens, it must
be addressed and I do not need to claim that there are 60,000 such cases as the people who argue
about numbers claim. The problem is that there are no figures. The church says it has an internal
registration system. They may have records but I don’t know of them. The state security never
accepted that the church would make a church count. They know the figures through the
computerized identity cards that mention one’s religion. I personally believe the proportion of
Christians to be around 10 percent. Muslim Brothers speak of 5 percent, but that is just
rhetoric—they don’t reveal any sources. We are not Nigeria (around 50 percent Muslims and 50
percent Christians); we are not Lebanon (divided along religious lines). Our only hope is that
Christians can be integrated in the Egyptian political arena.”
449. Jaber Al-Qarmuti, “Dr. Tharwat Bāsīlī makes shocking remarks: Copts in Egypt are 18.5
million,” Al-Ahram al-Arabi, January 7, 2012.
URL: http://arabi.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/1/947/-عدد-م فاجأة-ي فجر-ب ا س ي لى-ث روت-د/م صر
.م لي---م صر-ف ى-األق باطaspx.
Tharwat Bāsīlī has declined to reveal his sources about that figure but says it is definitely right.
The translation was placed here: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2012/week-3/4-awr-daily-
450. 'Amr al-Misrī, “AWR Daily Overview, January 14, 2012: Sawirus' anti-Islam cartoons
trial starts,” Press Review in Arab West Report, Week 2, Art 38, January 14, 2012. URL:
According to Hulsman, the issue of the number of Copts in Egypt represented a big problem
because there are always differences between the numbers announced – or not announced – by
the government, the church or the Egyptian public. "I have thought about this issue for years, and
in 1986 I visited all the bishoprics in Upper Egypt and asked the bishops about the number of
Copts. According to what I obtained, the number amounted to some eight per cent of the
population, but they were the Orthodox people alone. Whereas the number claimed by the Copts,
especially outside Egypt, is around 15 per cent. This is confusing because of the wide
discrepancy," Hulsman said in an interview with Watanī newspaper, published January 14
(Robeir al-Fāris, Watanī, Jan. 14, p. 1). Read full text of interview.
451. Robeir Al-Fāris, “The number that brings on a headache,” Watani International in Arab-
West Report, Week 3, Art 23, January 14, 2012. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
Interview with Watani International about Cornelis Hulsman’s work in Egypt, specifically his
work on Coptic migration statistics.
452. 'Amr Al-Misrī, “AWR Daily Overview, January 15, 2012: Accurate Figure – Census of
Copts is 18.565.484 million,”Al-Ahram in Arab-West Report, Week 3, Art 4, January 15,
2012. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2012/week-3/4-awr-daily-overview-
“Under the title Documented, Accurate Figure – Census of Copts is 18.565.484 million, Mājid
'Attīyah writes in a column in Watanī newspaper of January 15 that Dr. Tharwat Basīlī has said
he has a documented, accurate figure of the Coptic population in Egypt and that he challenges
anyone who would want to prove it is wrong” (Opinion and vision: accurate and documented
figure, Mājid 'Attīyah, Watanī, Jan. 15, p. 4).
Three years ago (2009?) during a press conference, Maj. General Abū Bakr al-Jindī, the head of
the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), was foaming at mouth at
a female Muslim journalist for just asking about the number of Copts. “Jindī appealed to all
persons who were attending that press conference not to repeat any questions about Coptic
population census, adding CAPMAS has not focused on the space left for religion in
identification cards. One might wonder why the CAPMAS chief was infuriated and declined to
announce the number of Copts although the statistical body keeps announcing numbers in
matters that are anything but important.”
453. 'Amr al-Misrī. “AWR Daily Overview, January 20, 2012: Carter calls for supporting
Islamists,” Press Review in Arab West Report, Week 3, Art 44, January 19, 2012. URL:
“The question remains in light of reports amidst political circles that Coptic Orthodox Pope
Shenouda III that the 10 persons to be appointed as members of parliament would be exclusively
Copts. (Pope) Shenouda is apparently trying to break an important political and constitutional
question; the appointment of 10 persons for parliament is the exclusive right of SCAF and more
than that the constitution has not determined whether those 10 should be Copts, Muslim
Brotherhood members or Salafists” (Milhim al-'Isawī, al-Rahmah, Jan. 20, p. 5).
454. Jayson Casper, “Many Copts Anxious as Islamists Win Majority in Parliament,” Arab-
West Report, Week 3, Art 50, January 23, 2012. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
The author makes an evaluation of the outcome of the election:
“The Democratic Alliance, dominated by the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) of the Muslim
Brotherhood, has won 46 percent of the seats. The more conservative Salafi Nour Party has
captured 24 percent. A handful of smaller Islamist parties add another 2 percent. Liberal
politicians, who were once hopeful, are reeling from their losses. Coptic Christians are left
pondering their murky future.”
“[…] Sidhom is prepared.”
“Our Plan B if Islamist groups seek an Islamic state is to oppose their constitution in a
referendum, but if it is accepted, Copts and liberal Muslims – 40 percent of the population – will
take again to the streets.”
455. Cornelis Hulsman and Jenna Ferrecchia, “Review of Elizabeth Kendal’s “Egypt: The
Gross Insecurity of the Dhimmī,” Arab West Report, Week 7, Art 62, February 9, 2012.
“Kendal cites AINA in reporting that ‘some 4000 mostly Coptic residents from the village of
Bahjūrah, a suburb of Naj’ Hamādī, are presently staging a sit-in at the Naj’ Hamādī police
headquarters to protest the lack of security arising from police laxity.’ After some research, it
is believed that this information as taken from a website called ‘Christian-Dogma,’ as they
are the only source claiming thousands of Copts, where others are reporting only hundreds.”
456. 'Amr al-Misrī, “AWR Daily Overview, February 20, 2012: Judges eager to apply
sharī'ah, top judge tells cleric,” Press Review in Arab West Report, Week 8, Art 18,
February 20, 2012. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2012/week-8/18-awr-daily-
“Parliamentary sources inside the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP)
revealed that the party, in cooperation with the Salafī al-Nūr (Light) Party, is trying to seize half
the number of seats of the constituent assembly that would draft a new constitution for Egypt.
There is an inclination inside the FJP to grab 30% of seats inside the assembly, al-Nūr 20%, the
rest of parties 10% and the remaining 40% for syndicates and parties from outside parliament,
the sources added” (Hamdī Dabash, Hānī al-Wazīrī and Ghādah Muhammad al-Sharīf, al-Misrī
al-Yawm, Feb. 20, p. 1).
457. Cornelis Hulsman, “Comments on Egypt Independent’s article on emigration of Copts,”
Arab-West Report, Week 8, Art 45, February 25, 2012. URL:
Commentary on Egypt Independent’s publishing of Najīb Jubrā’īl’s figures from his report
claiming that 93,000 Copts left Egypt since March.
458. 'Amr al-Misrī, “AWR Daily Overview, March 1, 2012: Academy of Islamic Research
approves Christians’ custody of orphans,” Arab West Report, Week 9, Art 30, March 1, 2012.
“[…] several Coptic activists demanded representation expressive of Christians in the Egyptian
society in the constituent assembly that would draft a new constitution of Egypt, welcoming the
church’s naming of Coptic Orthodox Bishop Mūsá of Youth in the panel. ‘We demand a Coptic
representation that is expressive of our population rate in Egypt, which is 15-20%, and we will
not allow our marginalization in draft the Egyptian constitution,’ Dr. Sharīf Dūs, President of the
General Coptic Organization in Egypt, said in statements on Thursday” (‘Imād Khalīl, al- isr
al-Yawm, March 1, p. 4).
459. 'Amr al-Misrī, “AWR Daily Overview, March 2, 2012: Christians for keeping Article 2
of the constitution,” Arab West Report, Week 9, Art 36, March 2, 2012. URL:
“Dr. Munīr Hannā Anīs, the head of the Episcopal / Anglican Diocese of Egypt with North
Africa and the Horn of Africa, said Christians of Egypt are for keeping Article 2 of the
constitution that reads Islam is the official religion of the state and principles of the sharī’ah are
the main source of legislation (Al-Ahrām, March 2, p. 6--Read original text in Arabic.).
[…] several Copts demanded to have a 10% representation in the constituent assembly that
would draft a constitution for Egypt, adding this percentage represents their population in Egypt,
according to their own statistics, and warning that ignoring their demands would anger the
church and spark sectarian troubles.”
460. Jenna Ferrecchia, “Interview with Rā’id al-Sharqāwī: Coptic population figures and the
2011-2012 elections,” Arab-West Report, Week 12, Art 65, March 22, 2012. URL:
The article provides a list of “Coptic population figures provided by Rā'id al-Sharqāwī in 2007
and 2011 in comparison to population figures presented by CAPMAS in the population census of
For 2011, Rā'id was able to obtain voter records from a former classmate from his university
who is now in the military intelligence. For this reason he could not provide his name. These
records, he claims, are available to the Supreme Council for the Armed Forces; the Ministry of
Telephones and Communication, in order to provide voters with their voting information via a
hotline; the Ministry of Justice’s Supreme Council for Registration of Elections; and the Ministry
of the Interior.
From these records, Rā'id said, he was able to obtain figures for each governorate to update the
information he provided for us.
The numbers [of Copts] that Rā'id offered for 2007 amount to under 6 million. His 2011 numbers
add up to 10.9 million, including 1.1 million Egyptians living abroad; 400,000 of which, Rā'id
claims, live in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. The numbers from 2011 are taken from voting
records, which would only account for 56 million of 82 million Egyptians, because only 56
million people are eligible to vote.
According to Rā'id, the increase in citizen registration in 2011 following the fall of Mubārak
accounts for some 3 million people who were not registered in 2007 and thus not included in his
original figures. The 2011 number includes those who obtained an ID number in order to vote
and receive government subsidies as well as those who had previously been hiding their identity
for crimes or other purposes. Rā'id also mentioned the possible errors in estimation in 2007 when
dealing with military records. The exempted categories from conscription—sons of widowers,
the handicapped, minors, etc., he claims, also account for the differences in numbers between
2007 and 2011.
The 1996 CAPMAS figure for Cairo is drastically lower than the figure Rā'id provides only 11
years later for the area that he, too, refers to as “Cairo”. Because Rā'id estimates such a large
number, it is uncertain whether he considers “Cairo” to include Giza, Helwan, and Qalyubiya,
where the CAPMAS figure only includes the official Cairo governorate itself. However, the
CAPMAS figure for Christians in Qalyubiya in 1996 is only 141,137 and it is highly unlikely
that the Christians in Giza and Helwan could account for the roughly 1 million other Christians
that should have existed in the greater Cairo area at that time according to Rā'id’s estimates.”
461. Cornelis Hulsman, “Compass Direct’s report on verdict on priest of Mārīnāb unfair and
misleading,” Arab-West Report, Week 12, Art 69, March 22, 2012. URL:
“Al-Bayādiyah is a Christian village and most local villagers are proud that their village now
suddenly boasts a large new church (thus not one on the location of an older smaller church).
According to ‘Alā’ Bushrā, who was the assistant Coptic Catholic pastor in al-Bayādiyah until 3
years ago, the population could be between 25,000 and 30,000. He stated that the percentage of
Christians there is at least 90%. The six churches in al-Bayādiyah are: Coptic Orthodox (by far
the largest congregation and church building), Coptic Catholic, Coptic Evangelical, Brethren,
Apostolic, and Reformed.”
462. Cornelis Hulsman, “Review of an Oasis article about Pope Shenouda, the man who was
practically a whole Synod on his own,” Arab-West Report, Week 12, Art 86, March 23,
2012. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2012/week-12/86-review-oasis-article-
Martino Diez and Meriem Senous published on March 22 an interesting interview with Father
Rafīq Greish, head of the Press Office of the Coptic Catholic Church in Egypt. We are providing
here some excerpts with comments showing disagreement on a few points.
Can you give us a general overview of the present position of the Copts?
The greatest aspiration of the Coptic community, which is made up of ten million or so
Egyptians, has always been to acquire full citizenship rights and to prevent its members from
being considered second-class citizens. There are still far too many discriminatory laws that have
never been abolished despite many promises. For example, the Copts have been waiting 32 years
for laws that would permit them to build churches.
With the loss of Shenouda III they feel deprived of the representation they had with the
government, for it was he who dialogued with the military and civil authorities. Moreover, with
the rise of political Islam, the need to have a strong Pope will become all the more pressing. But
at the same time it will be necessary for the new pope to take up positions that are more
emollient than intransigent.
CH: The number of ten million is highly inflated and father Rafīq Greish knows this. He knows
of the work of Dr. Philippe Fargues and other scholars. The number of Christians in Egypt is
more likely to be around 6 percent or around five million. He is probably using the inflated
figure to please Coptic bishops who generally hold to the inflated number for political reasons
that is trying to strengthen the position of Christians in Egypt. While this effort is correct, it is
incorrect to use inflated figures that no one can check for this purpose. It is not true there are no
laws on church building but it is true that there is no equality in building opportunities between
mosques and churches which is in turn related to the way this and other laws in Egypt are
463. Cornelis Hulsman, “Salāmah Mūsá, The Coptic Diaspora Survey and Numbers,” Arab-
West Report, Week 14, Art 33, April 2, 2012. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
The article comments on a blog post, entitled “American Copts, Egypt and the Next Pope.”
Unfortunately the post gives no author name. The article was published on a blog called
“Salamamoussa. Reclaiming Egypt,” named after Salāmah Mūsá (1887-1958), a well-known
journalist, writer, and advocate of secularism and Arab socialism who was born into a wealthy,
land-owning Coptic family in the town of Al-Zaqāzīq located in the Nile Delta.
“There are no reliable surveys of the size and reach of American Copts beyond an excellent but
limited scope study by Jennifer Brinkerhoff of George Washington University,” the unknown
author on this blog states.
He continues: “Copts estimate their numbers in the United States as between 500,000 and one
million. As with all Egyptian numbers, reliability is an issue. There are over 200 churches, and
even a simple calculation will yield something comparable to 500,000, ranging from first to third
The Coptic Diaspora Survey of Jennifer Brinkerhoff and her co-researcher Liesl Riddle
(February 23, 2012) states the following about the numbers of Copts: “Exact numbers of Copts
living in diaspora, as well as their destination countries, are difficult to trace as destination
countries do not collect data on subnational identity. According to the International Organization
for Migration (2010) 71% of the Egyptian diaspora resides in Arab countries. The number of
Egyptians living in the countries surveyed for this study—the United States, Canada, Australia,
and the United Kingdom—is estimated to be 533,000. As with most diasporas, the Coptic
diasporans estimate their numbers to be much higher than official estimates, even higher than the
estimates of all Egyptian national immigrants.”
Comment made by Cornelis Hulsman: “[…] It is often presumed that around 70 percent of
Egyptians in the West are of Coptic descent. […] Brinkerhoff and Riddle write that there is no
data available to provide accurate numbers. They refer to one study that estimates “that in
Europe Copts make up 30% of Egyptian nationals residing there.”
Most Copts came to the US in waves that started after the 1967 war. “Scant, but reliable, parish
records indicate that as many as 1 in 3 Copts have intermarried with the general American
population, mostly Catholic and Protestant Americans. As a result there maybe more than 1
Million Copts and ‘Copt-tinged’ Americans. This is not an inconsiderable number. The vast
majority are solidly middle and upper middle class and disbursed across the country.”
Jennifer Brinkerhoff and Liesl Riddle state that “the exact number of Copts residing in Egypt is
contested, with estimates ranging anywhere from eight to twelve percent of the total population.”
Comments by Cornelis Hulsman: “With all the good work carried out in this study this claim is
certainly incorrect. The exact number of Copts in Egypt is indeed contested, but by whom?
Primarily Coptic clergy and political activists. Of course, inflated numbers are useful to
underline claims about discrimination and persecution and to support claims for building more
churches and lobbying for more Copts in higher political and government functions. The range
given by Brinkerhoff and Riddle is also not correct. Claims range between six percent and
twenty percent of population. Why would they provide a more limited range? Because they do
not want to take figures below eight percent and over twelve percent seriously? If you provide a
range, then provide the full range, not only a segment.
[…] Philippe Fargues makes a strong argument for the proportion of Copts to be closer to six
The Salāmah Mūsá blog provides a good observation “The numbers are simple. Twice in one
year it was shown clearly that the Muslim Brother/Salafi grouping has 75% of the popular vote,
while 25% belongs to a combination of liberal Muslims and Copts. We simply need to accept
that as a fact.” It is highly unlikely that the Copts would outnumber liberal Muslims and thus his
observation matches well with the work of Fargues.”
“Ninety-five percent [of Coptic migrants in the survey] indicated the future of Egypt is important
to them. Respondents are most interested in making contributions to social development (80%),
relative to economic (69%) and political development (67%). Only 9.76% (of 850 respondents)
report they plan to live in Egypt in the future.” Interesting is this observation, “Contrary to the
norm among American donors generally, 54% of respondents reported they either do not want or
do not need to know the results of their contributions.”
464. Cornelis Hulsman, “Death of a Pope: The Worsening Position of Egypt’s Copts?” Arab-
West Report, Week 14, Art 41, April 4, 2012. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-
Cornelis Hulsman, Editor-in-Chief of Arab West Report comments on Ph.D. candidate, Emma
Hayward’s analysis for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on the current status of
Coptic Christians in relation to the Egyptian state and concludes that their position is weakening.
The Coptic Orthodox Church, to which around 95 percent of all Christians in Egypt belong, is
now ruled by the Holy Synod.
The proportion of Copts is obviously important to Hayward since this is mentioned on three
different occasions in her text. She first claims that Copts make up “approximately 10 percent of
Egypt's population,” linking this to a comment that the one hundred drafters for the new
constitutions “include just six Copts […].”
Hayward later repeats the argument that Copts are underrepresented: “The 100-person
constitutional assembly includes very few delegates likely to be sympathetic to Coptic demands.
Indeed, only six of them are Christian -- two of whom are members of the Muslim Brotherhood's
Freedom and Justice Party. On his deathbed, the pope had attempted to use his remaining
political clout to secure more seats for Copts in the assembly, but fell short.” She concludes that
Copts are thus facing an “underrepresentation in the assembly,” which is not true. It seems
Hayward is not aware of the studies of Philip Fargues, author of many studies on the statistics of
Christians in the Arab World, who is convinced that the proportion of Copts in Egypt does not
exceed six percent.
It is good Hayward mentioned that two out of the six Copts are members of the Freedom and
Justice Party since it is certainly not true that Coptic members of this party would represent one-
third of Coptic Christians in Egypt.
In her conclusion, Hayward returns to the proportion of Copts in Egypt: “At less than 10 percent
of the population, the Copts are hardly a counterweight to the Islamist Muslim Brothers and
Salafists who control nearly 75 percent of the parliament and who appointed the constitutional
1. Elizabeth Edwards, “Coptic Orthodox Statistics and Migration in Maghagha,” Arab-
West Paper no. 32, August 29, 2011. URL:
Elizabeth Edwards did research in migration and statistics of Coptic Christians in the bishopric
of Maghagha. Priests in the area are not aware of any systematic counting or registration of the
congregation or Christians in their own communities. The priests interviewed say they know all
the members of the Church by name, however, and from knowing their congregation well they
believe they have a good idea of the demographics of the Christians there.
2. Christopher D. Marshall, “Coptic Orthodox Migration and Statistics: Shubra al-
Khayma,” Arab-West Paper no. 32, September 20, 2011.
“In the summer of 2011, Christopher D. Marshall spent one month in the Bishopric of Shubra al-
Khayma, a suburb of Cairo, to gather information about Coptic Orthodox migration. With him
he brought a series of interview questions compiled with the help of Dr. Cornelis Hulsman,
which he hoped would uncover the methods of data collection used in the Shubra al-Khayma.”
This visit followed a promise of Bishop Marcos that Marshall would be fully informed in the
way the bishopric is collecting and recording statistics. This was, however, not realized because
the priest assigned to help Marshall was not aware of the methods of data collection in the
bishopric and the bishop was in the period Marshall was in the bishopric hard to access for
additional information and support.
3. Lamīs Yahyá, “What Happened in Mārīnāb Village?” Arab-West Report, Arab-West
Paper 33, October 12, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/what-happened-
Numbers of Copts are also disputed on the smallest administrative units. Muslims “believed the
numbers of Christians in the village to be no more than 30 people.” Copts in the village,
however, claimed “around 55 families—so, around 250 people in Mārīnāb.” A police general
stated that Copts in this village “numbered no more than 75 people.”
4. Sanne Lundberg, “Blessed Are They Who Are Persecuted, for Theirs Is the Kingdom
of Heaven: Religious Resistance among Coptic Christians in Egypt,” Report, Lund
University in Arab-West Report, December 22, 2011. URL:
The Egyptian statistical office, CAMPAS, computed that the Copts make up around 6%
of the population (Hulsman 2008). On the other hand, the Coptic Orthodox Church
estimates that Copts account for 12-18% of the population (Scott 2010:8). According to
the Religious Freedom report, however, Copts are estimated to make up about 8-12%
percent of the population (U.S. Department of State 2010). Regardless of which estimate
is correct, the Copts are clearly underrepresented (Lundberg 23-24).