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Here are 10 things to know about the Persecution Christians in Egypt are facing

Egypt is a majority Muslim nation, with Christians composing around 10% of Egypt’s religious population, according to the U.S. State Department. A majority of Christians in Egypt are part of the Coptic Orthodox Church, with less than two percent of Christians belonging to either the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, or various protestant denominations.

Here are 10 things to know about the persecution Christians in Egypt are facing:

1. In Egypt, Christianity is legal but Christians are excluded from many parts of society.

Religious freedom, particularly the right to practice Abrahamic religions (Islam, Judaism, and Christianity), is included in the Egyptian Constitution. However, the Egyptian constitution also establishes Islam as the official state religion. Much of the social exclusion and discrimination of Christians comes from within their local communities.

Christians are barred from holding jobs and prominent positions in Egyptian academia, which often require their faculty to study the Quran or adhere to tenants of Islam. There have also been reports that Christians are denied jobs for failing to meet requirements from employers that could only be met by Muslims. In rural areas, Christians often take trains into northern Egypt or to the neighboring country of Libya in search of employment.

2. The Egyptian government requires churches to register.

In 2016, the Egyptian government passed a law that appeared to aid Christians in gaining the necessary permits to construct more churches. However, acquiring a church-construction permit is an extensive process.

“There are laws regarding churches. It’s a long process to submit papers for building a new church,” Father Gergis Hakeim, a Coptic Orthodox priest, told NPR. 

Since September 2017, just 1,800 churches have been registered out of over 5,000 pending applications. Many churches remain unlicensed, and since 2016, the Egyptian government has closed numerous unlicensed churches, particularly those located in the villages of Upper Egypt (southern Egypt).

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The Egyptian president, Abdel-Fattah El Sisi, has lately approved the construction of several large churches in large cities such as Alexandria or Cairo. However, much of the Christian population is located in the rural villages of Upper Egypt where authorities often stall or deny the construction of new churches.

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