Egypt: Stigmatised by the Cross

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In the early 1970’s Egypt became an Islamic Republic and the Koran became its main source of legislation. It was a defining moment for Muslim-Christian relations, after which Christians became second class citizens. Although today Christians make up only 10% of the population, in many regions of the country the Coptic Church remains the only institution helping the poor and abandoned, both Christian and Muslim alike.

Notwithstanding evidence of a peaceful co-existence in Church institutions, life on the streets reveals an increasing intolerance towards Christians. Christian women are insulted on the streets if they do not wear the Muslim headscarf – the hijab. In small villages, girls are afraid of going out of their homes with uncovered heads, whether to a nearby shop or school. One of the most dramatic forms of brutal repressions in Egypt is the kidnapping of children from Christian families.

There is some light, however, on the horizon. On June the 3rd 2014, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was officially elected President with an almost 97% electoral support. A new Constitution, including Christian participation has been drafted and ratified by a popular referendum. Although the principles of Islamic Sharia are still the main source of legislation, the constitution guarantees a space for all religious minorities. These measures have led to a degree of hope springing up in the hearts of Egypt’s Christians.

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