Coptics (Copts) from Wikipedia

Copts (Copticⲟⲩⲣⲉⲙ’ⲛⲭⲏⲙⲓ ‘ⲛ’Ⲭⲣⲏⲥⲧⲓ’ⲁⲛⲟⲥou.Remenkīmi en.Ekhristianos, literally: Egyptian Christian) are native Egyptian Christians, usually Orthodox, who currently make up around 10 to 20% of the population of Egypt — the largest religious minority of that country. While Copts have cited instances of persecution throughout their history, Human Rights Watchhas noted “growing religious intolerance” and sectarian violence against Coptic Christians in recent years, and a failure by the Egyptian government to effectively investigate properly and prosecute those responsible. Over a hundred Egyptian copts have been killed in sectarian clashes from 2011 to 2017, and many homes and businesses destroyed. In just one province (Minya), 77 cases of sectarian attacks on Copts between 2011 and 2016 have been documented by theEgyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. The abduction and disappearance of Coptic Christian women and girls also remains a serious ongoing problem.

Ancient era

Roman rulers

St. Mark the Evangelist is said to have founded the Holy Apostolic See of Alexandriaand to have become its firstPatriarch. Within 50 years of St. Mark’s arrival in Alexandria, a fragment of New Testament writings appeared in Oxyrhynchus (Bahnasa), which suggests that Christianity already began to spread south of Alexandria at an early date. By the mid-third century, a sizable number of Egyptians were persecuted by the Romans on account of having adopted the new Christian faith, beginning with the Edict of Decius. Christianity was tolerated in the Roman Empire until AD 284, when the EmperorDiocletian persecuted and put to death a great number of Christian Egyptians. This event became a watershed in the history of Egyptian Christianity, marking the beginning of a distinct Egyptian or Coptic Church. It became known as the ‘Era of Martyrs‘ and is commemorated in the Coptic calendar in which dating of the years began with the start of Diocletian’s reign. When Egyptians were persecuted by Diocletian, many retreated to the desert to seek relief. The practice precipitated the rise of monasticism, for which the Egyptians, namely St. Antony,St. BakhumSt. Shenouda andSt. Amun, are credited as pioneers. By the end of the 4th century, it is estimated that the mass of the Egyptians had either embraced Christianity or were nominally Christian.

In 451 A.D., following theCouncil of Chalcedon, theChurch of Alexandria was divided into two branches. Those who accepted the terms of the Council became known as Chalcedonians orMelkites. Those who did not abide by the Council’s terms were labeled non-Chalcedonians orMonophysites (and laterJacobites after Jacob Baradaeus). The non-Chalcedonians, however, rejected the termMonophysites as erroneous and insisted on being calledMiaphysites. The majority of the Egyptians belonged to theMiaphysite branch, which led to their persecution by theByzantines in Egypt, this continued until the Arab conquest of Egypt.

Islamic era

Arab-Muslim conquest of Egypt

The Muslim conquest of Egypttook place in AD 639. Despite the political upheaval, Egypt remained a mainly Christian land, although the influx of Arab immigrants and gradual conversions to Islam over the centuries changed Egypt from a mainly Christian to a mainlyMuslim country by the end of the 14th century.


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