"The Christianity of history is not Protestantism. If ever there were a safe truth it is this, and Protestantism has ever felt it so; to be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant." (-John Henry Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine).

"Where the bishop is, there let the people gather; just as where ever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church". -St. Ignatius of Antioch (ca 110 AD)a martyr later thrown to the lions, wrote to a church in Asia Minor. Antioch was also where the term "Christian" was first used.

“But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.” 1 Timothy 3:15

"This is the sole Church of Christ, which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic." -CCC 811

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Coptic Christians Persecuted in Egypt

When will this over?

Christians are again the target of extremism and intolerance and among the persecuted Christians are the Copts of Egypt.

Since the Coptic Christians are a minority, they find it extremely difficult to live in an environment that is surrounded by intolerant Muslims. And if there are tolerant ones they are nowhere to be found or they just keep quiet.

Though Egypt’s constitution reflects the kind of tolerance they need to apply to other Egyptians, it usually not happening. Here’s what’s in their constitution has to say I’ve got from Catholic Online:

The Egyptian Constitution stipulates that all Egyptians are equal under the law. But the discrimination is widely practiced with sanction from the government. Areas of discrimination include but not limited to education, employment, freedom of religion, building churches, and parliamentary representation.

    • Many colleges limit the enrollment of Copts by imposing a quota of 1 or 2 % while the Copts are about 15% of the populations. A total educational system, from elementary to college, called Al Azhar which is fully funded by all tax payers does not accept Copts as students or as teachers or administrators.
    • Many high ranking jobs are out of reach of Copts. Examples are key police and security positions, mayors, police chiefs, deans of colleges, presidents of universities and most diplomatic positions.
    • Christians who want to convert to Islam are welcomed with open arms, while Muslims who would like to convert to Christianity are usually imprisoned and tortured, some die from torture.
    • Building churches still require a permit from regional governess for repairs. Building new churches still require approval of the President. Even when the president approves, the security apparatus must also investigate to see if the Muslim community would not object. If they object, the church may not be built. Many new communities don’t have churches. A permit to build a church could take as long as 20 years and may never be secured.
    • Egypt’s Parliament has just two Coptic elected representatives; one of them was disqualified for holding dual citizenship. This is out of 444 total representatives, which amounts to less than ½ % of the total representatives. The president appoints few more Copts who owe their loyalty to the government rather than to the Coptic people.
In reality, hundreds of Christians including young girls and under aged are kidnapped, some raped and were forced to convert to Islam and marry Muslim men. Good Lord, where is God!

Who are the Copts ? According to Catholic Online
The word “Copt” is derived from the Greek word, “Ai-gypt-os” meaning Egypt. The middle part of the word “gypt” was later pronounced as “Copt” and used to mean Egyptian. From the time Egypt embraced Christianity in 54AD to the time Islam invaded Egypt in 642 AD, all people of Egypt were called Copts, After the Islamic invasion, some Copts embraced Islam and excluded themselves from the name. Those who remained faithful to their Christian faith clanged to their Coptic identity, and still do.
St. Mark preached the Gospel to Egyptians in 54 A.D., the same St. Mark who wrote the Gospel of Mark. He was the first Patriarch of the 117 Coptic Patriarchs. He gave his life for the sake of the Church in 68 A.D. when he was “seized and dragged” with a rope tied on him “through the main streets of Alexandria.

Among the other great Theologians and saints, we have St. Clement of Alexandria and Origen.

Egypt was dominated by Christians during that time when in 642 A. D. Arabs led by Amr Bin Elas invaded Egypt and put an end to the Coptics mission to evangelize. Heavy Jizya taxes to non-Muslims was strictly imposed. Two things the Copts had to decide if they refuse Jizya, it’s either convert to Islam or die.

Historical records have it that many Copts died under the hands of Muslim invaders. As a result, most Copts fled from Egypt and lives scattered somewhere. Those who remained in Egypt were reduced to Dhimmitude (third class citizens under Islam). Because of the Arabization of Egyptians, their natural language was replaced by Arabic language so that the Coptic language is only used now in liturgy.

Today, our Coptic Christian brothers and sisters are being persecuted. Helpless, they turn to us for prayers and sacrifices that this discrimination they are encountering may come to an end and peacefully they can live with their Muslim brothers and sisters. But unless a single Muslim can’t realized the importance of living in peace with the Copts, soon our Coptic brothers and sister would be nowhere to be found in Egypt.

May God protects his Church. And let’s unite in prayers and pray for our persecutors.

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Other Readings:

Fr. Mattaos Unjustly Imprisoned in Egypt
Two Coptic Christians killed on Eve of Orthodox Pascha
Thousands of Muslims Attack Coptic Church in Cairo

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