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To Survive, Egyptian Christians May Have to Flee


Christians have been fleeing massacres and persecution in the Middle East for more than a hundred years; now the largest remaining Christian community in the region may soon join the rush. The AP reports on Egypt’s beleaguered Coptic Christians, who are struggling to protect their traditions, churches, art, and lives amidst rising anti-Christian violence:

The protection of [Coptic Christianity’s] heritage took on greater urgency when 40 churches were wrecked, burned and looted in a pogrom-like wave of attacks in August, blamed on Islamic militants. Coptic leaders say the attacks are the worst in centuries.

The attacks laid bare a worrisome failure or unwillingness by authorities, as well as moderate Muslims, to protect the churches. Christians, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt’s 90 million citizens, were left with their deepest sense of vulnerability in recent history.

The article doesn’t mention any widespread movement to leave the country yet, especially given the commitment of many sources quoted in the article to preserving the churches in their area. But if the religious violence continues, the number of asylum cases could rise dramatically. The US and other governments need to think hard about what to do if the current trickle of persecuted immigrants turns into a flood.

[Image of Saint Elias church in Qusayr courtesy Getty Images]

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  • Fat_Man

    My plan for saving Copts is beneficial to the entire mid-east region. Allow the Copts to settle in Gaza and give the Muslims in Gaza Copt land in Egypt. Without Hamas, Gaza will resume peaceful and prosperous relations with Israel and Egypt.

    • wigwag

      You are exactly right. We should be asking ourselves, what would Winston Churchill have done.

      It’s hard to know for sure, but my guess is that he would have supported an exchange of populations. The 1.6 million mostly Sunni Muslims could move less than a hundred miles into Egypt (where many of their parents and great grand parents originally came from) and a Christian state (consisting at first of mostly Copts) could be set up in Gaza.

      If Gaza is too small to accommodate 5-7 million Copts, they could be granted part of the Sinai as well.

      This would solve so many problems in one fell swoop that its hard to enumerate them all.

      Were it to ever happen, within a decade, Gaza would be transposed from a cess pool into a thriving state.

      • USNK2

        St. Catherine’s Monastery at the base of Mount Sinai still has a letter of eternal protection signed by Mohammed himself. This is one reason why the resorts at Sharm-al-Sheikh mostly cater to Arab Christians.
        The Sinai should be a Coptic Christian homeland even though the etymology for the word “Copt” is from the Greek word for Egyptians, who spoke Coptic before the Arab invasion from Arabia.
        Of course, today’s Sinai Bedouin have a different opinion.
        As for Gaza? Still think the Saudis want to build an oil pipeline to the Med across the Sinai border, which would make Gaza a bustling petrochemical port.
        I actually believe Egypt will find a way to include their indigenous Christians in Egypt, especially since most Coptic Christians live in Upper Egypt, which is way south of Cairo.
        ViaMeadia is too quick to predict a mass exodus of Egypt’s Christians.

  • Pete

    Don’t bring the here.

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