Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Egypt's Copts: A Closer Look at Coptic Christianity

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Egypt's Copts: A Closer Look at Coptic Christianity

Article excerpt

Egyptian Copts have been thrust into the global spotlight since a New Year's attack on a Coptic church in Alexandria, Egypt, killed 19 people. Though often overlooked in a predominantly Muslim region, the Coptic Orthodox Church is the main Christian denomination in Egypt, with more than 7 million Copts.

Egyptian Copts have been thrust into the global spotlight since a New Year's attack on a Coptic church in Alexandria, Egypt, killed 19 people. Though often overlooked in a predominantly Muslim region, the Coptic Orthodox Church is the main Christian denomination in Egypt, with more than 7 million Copts.

#5 Part of the Oriental Orthodox tradition

The Coptic Orthodox Church is one of several churches in Oriental Orthodoxy, which is not to be confused with Eastern Orthodoxy. It shares many of the same beliefs of those churches, which also include the Syriac and Armenian church.

Oriental Orthodox churches split from the Western and Eastern Orthodox churches at the Council of Chalcedon in the 5th century over theological differences. The Coptic Church is led by its own pope, who is based in Cairo. Coptic services are conducted in the Coptic language, a derivative of ancient Egyptian language, and local languages.

#4 Largest Christian minority in Middle East

The Copts are the largest Christian minority in the Middle East - about 9 percent of Egypt's 80 million people, or about 7.2 million people. Most of them live in Cairo (where there is still an area known as "Coptic Cairo") and in Upper Egypt.

Their role in Egyptian politics is minor and Copts complain of systematic government discrimination and persecution in the majority Muslim country. …

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