The Copts of Egypt: Specific Problems and General Tension

Muslim-Christian relations are beset by escalating tensions comprising new dimensions that threaten the Egyptian model of coexistence and unity. There are many reasons for this deteriorating situation that has become the obsession of intellectuals and various interested parties. One of them is the poor performance of the national government and its inability to act as a vehicle encompassing diversity, participation, and equality among all Egyptian citizens, regardless of colour, religion, or social status. Recent events, starting in July 2010, have shown a retreat in the mainstays of social relations. Indeed, various discourses have pushed people towards seditious positions to such a point that many have started believing that various parties are working together to propel society towards sectarianism. The question that poses itself here is how to unravel this complex situation in as neutral a manner as possible and, at the same time, propose new bases for a novel political configuration that breathes life into a citizenship-based relationship between Copts and Muslims, within the framework of a democratic national state.

The views represented in this paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Arab Reform Initiative, its staff, or its board.