Egyptian Coptic Christians
January 24, 2003 4:58 AM   Subscribe

"Please accept these as a Christmas gift, for I too am a Christian!" Then you added apologetically "But please don't mention this outside my shop, I could lose all if my neighbors found out."
Coptic Christians in Saudi Arabia, and The Christian Coptic Orthodox Church Of Egypt, and why the Embattled Coptic Christians Are Fleeing Egypt.
posted by hama7 (13 comments total)
What exactly is your point?

In other news: Catholics hate Protestants in Northern Ireland, Palestinian Christians and Muslims throw rocks at Israeli Troops, Gay man harrased and beaten over sexuality, Black man arrested for being in White neighborhood...

Great so people are ass holes, we know, thanks.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:50 AM on January 24, 2003

What exactly is your point?

i'm just guessing, but could his point have been to tell us about coptic christians in egypt today?
thanks, hama. interesting stuff.
posted by moz at 8:49 AM on January 24, 2003

My wife lived with Coptic Christians in Egypt for six months while she was studying in Cairo, and while we did hear of incidents like this, life didn't seem that bad for them. For one thing, I saw churches *everywhere*, and Christian life was very visible and public. Also, my wife's host family liked Mubarak because he keeps the Islamists at bay and is a secular nationalist leader. Perhaps things are different among the well-off of Cairo (a group that this particular family falls into). Anyway, it was a good link - thanks for posting it.
posted by laz-e-boy at 9:10 AM on January 24, 2003

Christians all over the middle east have problems, (a quick google search reveals that a church was hit by a missle just yesterday, and everyone remembers the Lebanese civil war or the more recent siege of Bethlehem) it's true-- which is kind of strange considering that they are often among the wealthier classes and have some strong allies in the West, as well as better education and access to power (Yasser Arafat's inner circle has a disproportionate amount of Christians, Tariq Aziz is also a Christian). It might be possible to separate Christian persecution in the Levant from that of the Gulf and Egypt.

Copts in Egypt are a very strange case, seeing as they might be one of the largest minorities in the entire region, but chronic undercounting means no one is really sure how many there are. Furthermore accounts vary widely on just how oppressed Copts are. Once again, America ought to be the model for the region, where religious groups live in peace (Coptic man who was shot the week after 9/11 notwithstanding).
posted by cell divide at 9:14 AM on January 24, 2003

The Copts have a neat minority culture, with their own language, a mutation of ancient Egyptian written with Greek characters. Egyptologists use it as a base for what ancient Egyptian language must have sounded like; ditto for their music. They maintain a lot of traditions that have long sense fallen out of the mainstream, both from ancient Christianity and ancient Egypt.
posted by Foosnark at 9:29 AM on January 24, 2003

Christians all over the middle east have problems... which is kind of strange considering that they are often among the wealthier classes and have some strong allies in the West

Strange? It looks more like an obvious consequence of relative wealth to me. Cf. Chinese in SE Asia, Indians in Africa, Jews in Europe... (I don't quite get the last part about "strong allies," since I seriously doubt many people in the West—and by that I mean people with power—give a rat's ass about them, if they are even aware of their existence.)

Foosnark: good comment!
posted by languagehat at 10:29 AM on January 24, 2003

Foosnark, great link. I never realized that Coptic was still a living language -- just assumed it had been used exclusively as a scholarly tool since the 19th century. Thanks!
posted by scody at 11:16 AM on January 24, 2003

Allright, I apologize, I was afraid this was going to devolve into one of those Muslims are evil and here's why discussions. I shouldn't have jumped to conclusions so quickly.

As for the West not caring about Middle Eastern Christians, we sure do dump a whole lot of cash on groups like the Lebanese Falange (Christian Nazi rebels)!
posted by Pollomacho at 11:25 AM on January 24, 2003

Thanks hama7 - interesting stuff. Didn't know much about this group - always rather thought of Coptic as being a religion from a time gone by. My only awareness was limited to the spectacular Coptic icons.
posted by madamjujujive at 4:03 PM on January 24, 2003

Thanks for the great links.

Ethiopia, too, has a number of Coptic Christians who have been isolated for centuries, and who are reportedly in possession of the Ark of the Covenant.
posted by hama7 at 6:51 PM on January 24, 2003

scody: Coptic hasn't been in spoken use for a long time, it's purely liturgical.
posted by languagehat at 9:54 AM on January 26, 2003

Cell Divide,

I'm not sure why any mention of the Lebanese Civil War leads any cohesion to your reaction to the thread.

Colour me confused . . .
posted by Sarine at 3:21 PM on January 27, 2003

Boutros Boutros-Ghali, former Secretary-General of the UN, is a Copt ('Boutros' is equivalent to 'Peter'). The Copts are very much a living, if beleagured, tradition.
posted by plep at 11:47 PM on January 27, 2003

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