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“Attacks on Egypt’s Coptic Christians on the Rise”
by YnetNews   
October 14th, 2013

The Egyptian Coptic Christian community has faced increasing levels of violence since the removal of President Mohamed Morsiby the military in July, according to a newly released report by human rights advocacy group Amnesty International. The report states that the community has suffered deadly mob violence and attacks on religious buildings.

“What we see is an unprecedented level of sectarian attacks against Copts,” Nicholas Piachaud, a campaigner for the North African team of Amnesty International, told The Media Line. “We saw over 200 attacks against the Coptic community after Morsi’s removal. We also saw the scapegoating of the Coptic Christians by the security forces.”

Around eight million Copts currently live in Egypt, making the Coptic Christian community the largest minority religion within Egypt. Copts have lived in Egypt since their establishment in Alexandria, Egypt, in the 1st century AD. While they make up only nine percent of Egypt’s population, they still have a vibrant community and Diaspora. Egyptian Copts claim to be one of the oldest communities within the Middle East, and their pope is based out of Alexandria, the birthplace of Coptic Christianity. Their small numbers relative to the rest of Egyptian society has left the Coptic community vulnerable to sectarian violence, which was a regular occurrence even under former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak.

According to the Amnesty report the most recent round of sectarian violence was spurred by the crackdown on former President Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood and pro-Morsi protesters in August. In the aftermath of the crackdown the Coptic community was seen as sympathetic to the military’s removal of Morsi, and Brotherhood members allegedly attacked the Copts in revenge for the deaths of hundreds of Morsi supporters at the hands of the military. The ensuing violence saw seven Copts killed and more than 100 Coptic buildings attacked and destroyed, Ishak Ibrahim, a researcher with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights told The Media Line.

International reaction to the attacks has been relatively muted, with much of the attention focused on the violence between the military, the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist fundamentalists.

“In Europe they don’t know what happens to the Christians (in Egypt),” Father Antonios Orshleme, the General Secretary of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem told The Media Line. “They say of what happens to them that ‘it’s normal.’ What’s normal?”

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