Since the late 1990s, Islamists in Egypt have killed more than 1,300 Christians, according to Operation World. The U.S. war on terrorism has led to a crackdown on Islamic extremists in U.S.-friendly Egypt—but the level of persecution against Christians remains, on balance, unchanged.

The Egyptian government has rounded up the usual radical Islamic suspects. It is also taking over mosques to rid them of extremist preaching. These actions seem to have helped reduce violence by armed Islamists against Coptic and other Christians in Egypt, says Paul Marshall, senior fellow at Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom.

But armed extremists are not the ones who most abuse Christians in Egypt. Most brutality comes from mobs and local police and other officials, and at that level "the atmosphere is worse—things are very heated," Marshall says.

"There seems to be increased hostility toward Christians in Egypt from Muslims since 9/11—or, to be more precise, since the invasion of Afghanistan, and now the questions in Iraq," Marshall says. "There's a lot of anti-American sentiment, and that overspills to Christians who tend to be identified with the West."

Christians make up almost 13 percent of the population, or nearly 9 million believers. About half of those belong to Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church.

Rights organizations report that Muslims coerce conversions by offering money or by abducting and raping Christian girls, then forcing them to marry. In the past year, local authorities closed one church, a mob torched another, and the Egyptian army partially razed a Christian shelter for children. Historically the government has only raised wan objections to such abuses.

"The Egyptian government wants to play to Islamic sentiment and look ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

May
Subscribe to CT and get one year free.
From Issue:
Read These Next
Also in this Issue
"Clean Flicks, Illegal Flicks?" Subscriber Access Only
Hollywood directors file suit against CleanFlicks
RecommendedISIS Church Bombings Kill Dozens at Palm Sunday Services in Egypt
ISIS Church Bombings Kill Dozens at Palm Sunday Services in Egypt
(UPDATED) Christian leader: ‘During this week of Jesus’ suffering, we will pray to God to give us protection and healing.’
TrendingForgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable
Forgiveness: Muslims Moved as Coptic Christians Do the Unimaginable
Amid ISIS attacks, faithful response inspires Egyptian society.
Editor's PickWhatever Is Pure: Cedarville Requires Professors to Apply Philippians 4:8
Whatever Is Pure: Cedarville Requires Professors to Apply Philippians 4:8
Faculty push back against stricter standards keeping curse words, R-rated movies, and sexual content out of their curricula.
Christianity Today
Heightened Hostilities in Egypt
hide thisDecember 9 December 9

In the Magazine

December 9, 2002

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.