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Minorities At Risk Project: Home    

Chronology for Copts in Egypt

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Date(s) Item
1990 In Minshiat at Nassar (310 km s. of Cairo) workers repairing a Church are attacked by Islamic Militants.
Mar 1990 Rumors that Copts are using Muslim girls in a white slave trade prompts two weeks of violence in Abu Quraqa (250 kms s. of Cairo). Churches, shops, houses and cars are firebombed and two Christians are kidnapped but there are no deaths or injuries.(Note: There are constant complaints of harassment by Islamic militants during this period. This harassment includes, as noted earlier, the spreading of false rumors, extortion and violence up to and including murder, often with the tacit approval or even participation of local officials. Such incidents, short of murder, will not be noted here unless they deserve special attention.)
Jun 1990 A Christian liquor store owner is attacked by Islamic militants with swords and chains.
Dec 10, 1990 President Mubarak, in an attempt to appease Copts, gives five of the ten Presidentially appointed seats in Egypt's Parliament to Copts.
Jun 1991 Due to rumors that he was engaging in homosexual relations with Muslim men, a Copt pharmacy owner in Komumbo (near Aswan) who is a member of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights is arrested and detained without charge for 45 days. Fifteen days after his release, his shop is vandalized by "six masked youths" who threaten his family and force him to leave town.
Sep 20 - 22, 1991 Militant Muslims commit a wave of violence against Christian churches and shops in Imbabah, a suburb of Cairo. Police refuse to take reports of many incidents and discourage future reports. Some Copts who attempt to make reports are arrested. Also, after being harassed by a Muslim customer, a Christian butcher shoots and wounds him.
Mar 11, 1992 3 people are killed and more injured in a gun battle between Christians and Muslims in the village of Sanbau (350 kms s. of Cairo).
Mar 30, 1992 In a speech, President Mubarak alludes to the attacks against Copts when he criticizes "ethnic fanaticism"
Apr 29, 1992 A church is stoned in Imbabah.
May 4, 1992 11 Copts and two Muslims attempting to defend them are killed by gunmen, believed to be Islamic militants, in Sanabu. The authorities dismiss this as being part of a local "blood feud."
Jul 16, 1992 Legislation directed against Islamic militants decreeing the death penalty for anyone engaging in acts of "terrorism" is passed.
Oct 27, 1992 Four gunmen, believed to be Islamic militants, kill a Christian jeweler and his assistant.
Nov 1, 1992 Gunmen, believed to be Islamic militants, wound 10 Copts in an attack on a bus returning to Dayrut (310 kms s. of Cairo) from Cairo.
Dec 20, 1992 A Coptic weekly, Al-Watan, urges the government to stop what is called a new invasion of the schools by Islamic extremists. Headmasters are discriminating against Copts and forcing female students to wear veils. "Fanatic teachers" are also discriminating against their Coptic students. The Article notes that the government is opposed to this but is not doing enough to stop it.
Dec 23, 1992 The Christian Science Monitor reports the smuggling of weapons to Islamic Extremists from the Sudan.
Jan 4, 1993 In two separate assaults, gunmen, believed to be Islamic militants, kill one Copt and wound another. A Coptic church in Dayrut is firebombed.
Feb 23, 1993 In a Reuters article, Copts complain of discrimination including: job discrimination; discrimination by government both in the awarding of scholarships and upper government jobs; an informal Muslim boycott of Copt stores; discrimination and segregation by teachers and school officials; and the removal of all reference to Copts and Christianity from many school curriculums. This has resulted in the emigration of as much as a half million in the past ten years. Although the government protects the Copts from physical threats, the Copts complain that most government action is due to the threats to the state and foreign tourists rather than any concern for the Copts.
Mar 1, 1993 Egypt bans from mosques "scholars preaching militant thoughts" due to attacks upon tourists and Christians. (Note: the government has been engaging in increasing levels of repression against Islamic militants throughout this period. This ranges from arrests to gun battles involving hundreds of police, government troops and Islamic militants. For the most part, the details of these actions are not documented here. Also, as noted earlier, many believe that this government action is due to the threat the militants pose to the state and foreign tourists rather than any wish to protect the Copts.)
Mar 1993 A report issued by the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights accuses the government of abdicating its responsibility to protect Christians from Islamic extremists. It notes that attacks occur in the sight and sometimes with the help of security and local government authorities. It further accuses the government of doing little about such incidents until it became clear that they were also a threat to "the political system and the lives of those in power."
Apr 19, 1993 Youssef Boutros Ghali (the nephew of the UN Secretary General), a Copt, is appointed Secretary of State.
Apr 20, 1993 A Copt school teacher is shot and wounded in Dayrut by gunmen, believed to be Islamic militants. Five Islamic militants are arrested in Aswan for planning to violently disrupt an non-Muslim festival which coincides with the Coptic Easter.
Apr 24, 1993 Assailants, believed to be Islamic militants, attack with knives and wound two Coptic high school students.
May 1993 Muslims in Tima (400 kms s. of Cairo) go on a rampage in revenge for the death of a Muslim at a Christian's hand last October leaving six Copts dead and considerable property damage.
May 19, 1993 In a roundup of Islamic militants, the government seizes numerous books, cassettes and videotapes calling for violence and discrimination against the Copts.
Jul 22, 1993 A Copt physician is shot by gunmen, believed to be Islamic militants, in Manfalout (350 km south of Cairo).
Aug 8, 1993 Gunmen, believed to be Islamic militants, in Dayrut wound a Copt in his brother's pharmacy.
Aug 24, 1993 Gunmen, believed to be Islamic militants, kill a Christian student in Anboub (300 kms. s. of Cairo).
Sep 21, 1993 Gunmen, believed to be Islamic militants, kill a Copt schoolteacher in Dayrut.
Oct 20, 1993 Gunmen, believed to be Islamic militants, open fire in a Christian owned pharmacy killing one and injuring two.
Jan 27, 1994 A senior Copt police official is wounded in an attack by gunmen believed to be Islamic militants. His driver and bodyguard are killed.
Mar 4, 1994 An Islamic militant, believed to be guilty of two shooting attacks on Coptic churches in Mir (300 kms s. of Cairo) in the previous week, is arrested.
Mar 11, 1994 Gunmen, believed to be Islamic militants, kill 5 including two monks outside a church in Qussiyah (300 kms s. of Cairo).
Apr 25, 1994 Egyptians are upset at an upcoming convention on minorities in the Middle East. They say that the Copts are not a minority and are an integral part of Egyptian society. They attribute the conference to foreign interference.
Jun 26, 1994 A Coptic weekly accuses the government of working to increase the wave of bigotry, antipathy and hatred against Copts.
Jul 17, 1994 Pope Shenouda III of the Egyptian Coptic Church in an outspoken interview complains of discrimination against Copts in Egypt. He says that Copts play little part in public life and face problems building and repairing churches. He complains that Copts have trouble obtaining voting cards from police, thus preventing many of them from voting. He also refers to Copts being killed by Islamic militants in southern Egypt and Copt houses being destroyed without compensation from the state.
Sep 1, 1994 Islamic militants shoot dead 2 policemen guarding a Coptic church in southern Egypt. Note: In general the government actively opposes attacks by Islamic militants on Copts and prosecutes the perpetrators of these attacks to the full extent of the law. This is probably more a result the fact that the Islamic militants oppose the government than a desire to protect the Copts.
Nov 11, 1994 Islamic militants kill 2 men in southern Egypt including a Christian government official.
Nov 22, 1994 Suspected Islamic militants kill a Christian security guard in the southern Egyptian province of Minya.
Feb 25, 1995 Suspected Islamic militants shoot dead a Christian civilian and wound another in a southern Egyptian village.
Mar 11, 1995 Suspected Islamic militants shoot dead a Copt village elder in southern Egypt.
Mar 31, 1995 2 policemen guarding a Coptic church are shot dead by suspected Islamic militants.
Jun 4, 1995 Islamic militants seeking to avenge a dead relative kill 9 people, including 3 Copts, in 4 separate attacks in southern Egypt.
Jun 8, 1995 Suspected Islamic militants shoot dead a wealthy Copt pharmacist for making a donation of property to his local parish.
Aug 13, 1995 6 are killed after a fight breaks out over a Copt girl who converted to Islam in a northern Egyptian province.
Aug 29 - 30, 1995 In 2 separate incidents, suspected Islamic militants shoot dead 4 Copts in southern Egypt.
Sep 2, 1995 Suspected Islamic militants shoot dead a Copt who works for a local council in southern Egypt.
Nov 7, 1995 According to the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, within the past 10 months, Islamic extremists have assassinated 74 police and 24 Copts in southern Egypt.
Dec 4, 1995 Gunmen in a car shot dead three coptic Christian men and wounded two others in a hit and run attack near the town of Abu Qurqas, In a separate attack in the same area and at the same time, gunmen shot and killed policeman Mustafa Khalil Mohamed.
Dec 9, 1995 Forty people were killed and between 400-700 injured during Egypt’s general elections. Thousands of Christians could not find their names on the lists and constituencies where Copts ran as candidates, their ricals distributed leaflets saying Moslems should not vote for non-Moslems.
Dec 12, 1995 President Mubarak appointed 10 MPs and the Speaker using his constitutional privilege to enlarge the assembly with women and members of the Coptic community.
Jan 12, 1996 A Christian farmer was killed by unidentified gunmen in the village of Abu Obeid in Minya Province.
Feb 26, 1996 Eight Copts and three others were killed in Assuit Provicne in Southern Egypt. At least 47 people have died in the past two moths in Assuit and Menia Provinces. Most of these were policemen and suspected police informers (non-Copts). In a separate incident mobs set fire to 41 houses in a predominantly-Christian village in the governate of Sharqiya after a row over a reported Church expansion. Four were injured and 50 arrested in the incident.
Mar 8, 1996 Jailed leader (El Qusi) of the radical Jamaa Islamiya group in southern Egypt was quoted as having ordered his followers to lay down their arms Abefore a deluge of blood overtakes us all. He said he particularly regretted acts of violence against government officials, policemen, Copts and tourists. He called the killing of Copts horendous acts which Islamic Sharia law denounces.
Apr 24, 1996 Human Rights groups in Egypt joined hands in a legal battle to end alleged discrimination against the country’s Coptic minority. They wish to strike off the 140-year-old Ottoman law which, in effect, bans construction of and repairs to churches by requiring a presidential decree in each individual case.
Aug 7, 1996 The body of a Coptic student was found in the vicinity of Abu Qurqas.
Aug 26, 1996 Four, including three Copts, were killed in the couthern village of Nazlet Roman near the town of Abu Qurqas in Minya province. One Copt was also wounded in the attack. The five were members of the newly-formed patrols encouraged by the government to help police hunt militants using nearby fields and mountains as hideouts. A total of 23 people, not all of them Copts, have been killed in attacks during August.
Sep 4, 1996 The American Coptic Union urged the U.S. Congress to investigate the killings of Christians in Egypt and to postpone aid to Egypt until basic rights and security were secured for all citizens.
Jan 24, 1997 A new political party, al Wasat, was launched. Its members are Copts and former members of the Muslim Brotherhood and its goal is to heal the breaches between the two religions. It is not viewed as strong or very likely to have much influence over Egyptian politics.
Feb 1997 The State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1996 reported that during 1996 at least 22 Copts were killed in upper Egypt where 30-40% of the population are Christians. There were also reports of acts of violence against Coptic Churches and Copt-owned businesses. Government discriminatory practices against the Coptic community included: suspected statistical underrepresentation of the size of the Christian population; anti-Christian discrimination in education; production of some Islamic television programs with anti-Christian themes; job discrimination in the police, armed forces and other agencies.
Feb 12, 1997 Ten Coptic youth were killed in an attack on a Church in southern Egypt. The youth were attending a prayer service at the Church. Police believed the killings were orchestrated by the group Gama’a al-Islamiya, the largest of the militant Islamic organizations in the country. The Gama’a has attacked the Coptic community only sporadically, concentrating attacks on police and police informers regardless of religion, and they denied involvement in this attack. Moslem and Christian community leaders have unanimously condemned the attacks. It was the worst attack on the Coptic community in almost a year. Police also suspect the same gunmen in an attack which killed three Coptic Christians. They were found dead near Abu Qurqas in Minya Province.
Mar 15, 1997 Gunmen killed 13, including nine Copts, in a predominantly Christian hamlet 300 miles south of Cairo. Though attacks on the Coptic community have increased in recent months, the overall level of violence has sharply decreased from a peak of 415 deaths in 1995 to 187 during 1996, and Islamic militants are clearly on the defensive.
Mar 22, 1997 A total of 21 Copts were killed by Islamic extremists in February and there was a growing fear that there could be a migration of Copts from Southern Egypt because of the growing fear of attack. (AP)
Apr 10, 1997 Copts were killed in two attacks. A total of 13 Copts were killed by Islamic militants who released a statement clarifying that the Copts had not been targeted specifically. (Facts On File)
May 3, 1997 The Interior Minister said that one of the faults of the Moslem brotherhood was that they want to segregate the Copts. (BBC)
Oct 14, 1997 Two Copts and nine police were killed by militants in the South. (New York Times).
May 23, 1998 Petty discrimination was reported to be endemic against Copts. The US congress was considering sanctions against states, including Egypt, where religious persecution was evident. In Egypt there has been a relaxation of laws forbidding the building of churches and some seized church land has been returned.
Aug 18, 1998 The Coptic Pope said that there is no persecution of Copts in Egypt. (BBC)
Oct 12, 1998 A US congressmen visited Egypt to investigate the treatment of the Copts. The visit was a follow-up to an earlier congressional consideration to place sanctions on Egypt for religious persecution. Two Copts had been found dead on August 12. Police were accused of brutally torturing hundreds of Copts. (UPI)
Dec 5 - 9, 2004 After allegations that the wife of a Coptic priest was kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam, hundreds of Copts took to the streets to protest against discrimination. After several days of protest, 55 were injured and 34 had been arrested. (WorldWide Religious News. 12/15/2004. "Religious Tension Rises After Years of Calm". Inter Press Service. 4/24/2008.)
Oct 22 - 22, 2005 Muslim protesters attempted to storm the Coptic Church when authorities intervened with teargas and rubber bullets. Three died and others were injured. (The New York Times, 10/23/2005, "Egyptian Police Guard Coptic Church Attacked by Muslims")
Oct 31, 2005 Coptic Christians in Switzerland, the UK and France protested outside of the Egyptian embassy headquarters calling for the protection of rights of Copts in Egypt. (MENA news agency, 11/1/2005, "Egyptian church denies links to Paris protest")
Apr 14 - 14, 2006 A man armed with a knife killed one and injured at least five in attacks on Coptic churches. (The Independent (London), 4/15/2006, "Worshippers attacked in Egyptian Coptic churches")
Apr 14 - 15, 2006 Following attacks on Coptic churches, rioting between Christians and Muslims broke out. One died in the fighting and several more were injured. Property and churches were also damaged in the rioting. (US Department of State Department. 3/6/2007. "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices-2006: Egypt". 4/24/2008.)
Apr 24, 2006 More than 2,000 Copts in Melbourne, Australia marched to the Parliament, protesting the mistreatment and persecution of Copts living in Egypt. (The Age (Melbourne, Australia), 6/18/2007, "Angry Copts March to Break Silence")


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Information current as of July 16, 2010