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The COPTS (Coptic : ⲚⲓⲢⲉⲙ̀ⲛⲭⲏⲙⲓ ̀ⲛ̀Ⲭⲣⲏⲥⲧⲓ̀ⲁⲛⲟⲥ _Niremenkīmi Enkhristianos_, Egyptian Arabic : أقباط‎‎ _Aqbat_) are an ethno-religious group that primarily inhabit the area of modern Egypt
Egypt
, where they are the largest Christian
Christian
denomination . Copts
Copts
are also the largest Christian
Christian
adherent group in Sudan
Sudan
and Libya
Libya
. Historically, they spoke the Coptic language
Coptic language
, a direct descendant of the Demotic Egyptian that was spoken during the Roman era. The Coptic language
Coptic language
is a focus of Coptology and remains in liturgical use, although most Copts
Copts
today speak Arabic .

Copts
Copts
in Egypt
Egypt
constitute the largest Christian
Christian
community in the Middle East
Middle East
, as well as the largest religious minority in the region, accounting for an estimated 10-15 percent of the Egyptian population. Copts
Copts
in Sudan
Sudan
constitute the largest Christian
Christian
community in Sudan
Sudan
, accounting for an estimated 1 percent of the Sudanese population. Copts
Copts
in Libya
Libya
constitute the largest Christian
Christian
community in Libya
Libya
, accounting for an estimated 1 percent of the Libyan population. Most Copts
Copts
adhere to the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria . The Coptic Catholic Church is an Eastern Catholic church in full communion with the Catholic Church
Catholic Church
.The Egyptian Evangelical Church is an protestant Coptic church.

THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS COPTIC TEXT. Without proper rendering support , you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Coptic letters.

CONTENTS

* 1 Etymology

* 2 History

* 2.1 Foundation of the Christian
Christian
Church in Egypt
Egypt
* 2.2 Contributions to Christianity
Christianity
* 2.3 Ecumenical Councils * 2.4 Council of Chalcedon * 2.5 Arab invasion of Egypt
Egypt

* 2.6 Copts
Copts
in modern Egypt
Egypt

* 2.6.1 Pharaonism

* 2.7 Church affairs * 2.8 Copts
Copts
in modern Sudan
Sudan
* 2.9 Copts
Copts
in modern Libya
Libya

* 3 Demographics

* 3.1 Diaspora

* 4 Persecution and discrimination in Egypt
Egypt
* 5 Language

* 6 Calendar
Calendar

* 6.1 Coptic year

* 7 Prominent Copts
Copts
* 8 See also * 9 Footnotes * 10 Further reading * 11 External links

ETYMOLOGY

Further information: Name of Egypt
Egypt

The word _Copt_ was adopted in English in the 17th century, from New Latin
Latin
_Coptus, Cophtus_, which is derived from Arabic collective _qubṭ / qibṭ_ قبط "the Copts" with nisba adjective _qubṭī, qibṭī_ قبطى, plural _aqbāṭ_ أقباط; Also _quftī, qiftī_ (where the Arabic /f / represents the historical Coptic /p /) an Arabisation of the Coptic word _kubti_ ( Bohairic
Bohairic
) and/or _kuptaion_ ( Sahidic ). The Coptic word is in turn an adaptation of the Greek term for the indigenous people of Egypt, _Aigýptios_ (Αἰγύπτιος).

The Greek term for Egypt, _Aigýptos_ (Αἰγύπτος), is itself derived from the Egyptian language , but dates to a much earlier period, being attested already in Mycenean Greek as _a3-ku-pi-ti-jo_ (lit. "Egyptian"; used here as a man's name). This Mycenaean form is likely from Middle Egyptian _ḥwt-k3-ptḥ_ (_Hut-ka-Ptah_), literally "Estate (or 'House') of the Spirit of Ptah
Ptah
" (cf. Akkadian _āluḫi-ku-up-ta-aḫ_), the name of the temple complex of the god Ptah
Ptah
at Memphis .

The term is thus ultimately derived from the Greek designation of the native Egyptian population in Roman Egypt
Egypt
(as distinct from Greeks, Romans, Jews, etc.). After the Muslim
Muslim
conquest of Egypt
Egypt
, it became restricted to those Egyptians adhering to the Christian
Christian
religion.

In Coptic Egyptian , the Copts
Copts
referred to themselves as _ni rem en kīmi en khristianos_ (Coptic : ⲚⲓⲢⲉⲙ̀ⲛⲭⲏⲙⲓ ̀ⲛ̀Ⲭⲣⲏⲥⲧⲓ̀ⲁⲛⲟⲥ), which literally means " Christian
Christian
people of Egypt" or " Christian
Christian
Egyptians". The Coptic name for Egyptians , _rem en kīmi_ (Coptic : Ⲣⲉⲙ̀ⲛⲭⲏⲙⲓ), is realized in the Fayyumic dialect as _lem en kēmi_, or _rem en khēmi_ in the Bohairic
Bohairic
dialect; cf. Egyptian _rmṯ n kmt _, Demotic _rmt n kmỉ_.

The Arabic word _qibṭ_ ("Copt") has also been connected to the Greek name of the town of _ Coptos _ (_Κόπτος_) (modern-day _Qifṭ_; Coptic _Kebt_ and _Keft_). It is possible that this association has contributed to making _Copt_ the settled form of the name.

In the 20th century, some Egyptian nationalists and intellectuals in the context of Pharaonism began using the term _qubṭ_ in the historical sense.

HISTORY

Main articles: Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria and History of Christianity
Christianity
in Egypt
Egypt
Coptic icon of St. Mark

RELIGION IN EGYPT

RELIGIONS IN EGYPT

* ISLAM

* Sunni * Shia

* CHRISTIANITY

* Coptic Orthodoxy * Greek Orthodox * Catholicism * Protestantism

* JUDAISM

RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS

* Al-Azhar University * Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah * Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria

RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS

* Al-Azhar * Salafist Call * Muslim
Muslim
Brotherhood * al-Gama\'a al-Islamiyya * Catechetical School of Alexandria * General Congregation Council

Unrecognized religions padding-top:0.4em;">

* Ahmadiyya * Bahá\'í Faith * Hinduism

OTHER TOPICS

* Irreligion in Egypt
Egypt
* Secularism in Egypt
Egypt
* Freedom of religion in Egypt
Egypt

* Egypt
Egypt
portal * Religion portal

* v * t * e

Part of the series on

COPTS

CULTURE

* Architecture * Art * Calendar
Calendar
* Coptology * Cross * Encyclopedia * Fasting * Flag * History * Identity * Literature * Music * Monasticism * Nationalism * Persecution

REGIONS

* Egypt
Egypt
* Sudan
Sudan
* Libya
Libya
* United States
United States
(Churches ) * Canada
Canada
(Churches ) * Australia
Australia
(Churches ) * Africa * Asia * Europe * South America * Coptic Diaspora

RELIGIONS

* Orthodoxy * Catholicism * Evangelicals * Other Protestants
Protestants

LANGUAGE

* Egyptian language * Coptic language
Coptic language

WRITING SYSTEMS

* Hieroglyphs * Hieratic * Demotic * Coptic

* v * t * e

The Copts
Copts
are one of the oldest Christian
Christian
communities in the Middle East. Although integrated in the larger Egyptian nation state, the Copts
Copts
have survived as a distinct religious community forming around 10 to 20 percent of the population, though estimates vary. They pride themselves on the apostolicity of the Egyptian Church whose founder was the first in an unbroken chain of patriarchs. The main body for 16 centuries has been out of communion with both the Roman Catholic Church
Catholic Church
(in Rome) and the various Eastern orthodox churches.

FOUNDATION OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH IN EGYPT

According to ancient tradition, Christianity
Christianity
was introduced within present day Egypt
Egypt
by Saint Mark in Alexandria
Alexandria
, shortly after the ascension of Christ
Christ
and during the reign of the Roman emperor Claudius around 42 AD. The legacy that Saint Mark left in Egypt
Egypt
was a considerable Christian
Christian
community in Alexandria
Alexandria
. From Alexandria, Christianity
Christianity
spread throughout Egypt
Egypt
within half a century of Saint Mark 's arrival in Alexandria
Alexandria
, as is clear from a fragment of the Gospel of John
Gospel of John
, written in Coptic , which was found in Upper Egypt and can be dated to the first half of the 2nd century, and the New Testament writings found in Oxyrhynchus
Oxyrhynchus
, in Middle Egypt
Egypt
, which date around the year 200 AD. In the 2nd century, Christianity
Christianity
began to spread to the rural areas, and scriptures were translated into the local language, today known as the Coptic language
Coptic language
, but known as the _Egyptian language_ at the time. By the beginning of the 3rd century AD, Christians
Christians
constituted the majority of Egypt’s population, and the Church of Alexandria
Alexandria
was recognized as one of Christendom
Christendom
's four Apostolic Sees, second in honor only to the Church of Rome . The Church of Alexandria
Alexandria
is therefore the oldest Christian
Christian
church in Africa.

CONTRIBUTIONS TO CHRISTIANITY

The Copts
Copts
in Egypt
Egypt
contributed immensely to Christian
Christian
tradition. The Catechetical School of Alexandria was the oldest catechetical school in the world. Founded around 190 AD by the scholar Pantanaeus , the school of Alexandria
Alexandria
became an important institution of religious learning, where students were taught by scholars such as Athenagoras , Clement , Didymus , and Origen
Origen
, the father of theology and who was also active in the field of commentary and comparative Biblical studies. However, the scope of this school was not limited to theological subjects; science, mathematics and humanities were also taught there. The question-and-answer method of commentary began there, and 15 centuries before Braille
Braille
, wood-carving techniques were in use there by blind scholars to read and write.

Another major contribution made by the Copts
Copts
in Egypt
Egypt
to Christianity was the creation and organization of monasticism . Worldwide Christian monasticism stems, either directly or indirectly, from the Egyptian example. The most prominent figures of the monastic movement were Anthony the Great , Paul of Thebes , Macarius the Great , Shenouda the Archimandrite and Pachomius the Cenobite . By the end of the 5th century, there were hundreds of monasteries, and thousands of cells and caves scattered throughout the Egyptian desert. Since then pilgrims have visited the Egyptian Desert Fathers to emulate their spiritual, disciplined lives. Saint Basil the Great Archbishop of Caesarea Mazaca
Caesarea Mazaca
, and the founder and organiser of the monastic movement in Asia Minor
Asia Minor
, visited Egypt
Egypt
around 357 AD and his monastic rules are followed by the Eastern Orthodox Churches . Saint Jerome
Saint Jerome
, who translated the Bible
Bible
into Latin
Latin
, came to Egypt
Egypt
while en route to Jerusalem
Jerusalem
around 400 AD and left details of his experiences in his letters. Saint Benedict founded the Benedictine Order in the 6th century on the model of Saint Pachomius , although in a stricter form. Coptic Christians
Christians
practice male circumcision as a rite of passage.

ECUMENICAL COUNCILS

The major contributions that the See of Alexandria
Alexandria
has contributed to the establishment of early Christian
Christian
theology and dogma are attested to by fact that the first three Ecumenical councils in the history of Christianity
Christianity
were headed by Egyptian patriarchs. The Council of Nicaea (325 AD) was presided over by St. Alexander, Patriarch of Alexandria
Alexandria
, along with Saint Hosius of Córdoba . In addition, the most prominent figure of the council was the future Patriarch of Alexandria Athanasius , who played the major role in the formulation of the Nicene Creed
Nicene Creed
, recited today in most Christian
Christian
churches of different denominations. One of the council's decisions was to entrust the Patriarch of Alexandria
Alexandria
with calculating and annually announcing the exact date of Easter
Easter
to the rest of the Christian
Christian
churches. The Council of Constantinople (381 AD) was presided over by Patriarch Timothy of Alexandria
Alexandria
, while the Council of Ephesus (431 AD) was presided over by Cyril of Alexandria
Alexandria
.

COUNCIL OF CHALCEDON

In 451 AD, following the Council of Chalcedon , the Church of Alexandria
Alexandria
was divided into two branches. Those who accepted the terms of the Council became known as Chalcedonians or Melkites . Those who did not abide by the Council's terms were labeled non-Chalcedonians or Monophysites and later Jacobites after Jacob Baradaeus . The non-Chalcedonians , however, rejected the term Monophysites as erroneous and referred to themselves as Miaphysites . The majority of the Egyptians belonged to the Miaphysite branch, which led to their persecution by the Byzantines in Egypt
Egypt
.

ARAB INVASION OF EGYPT

Main article: Islamization of Egypt
Egypt
The Hanging Church in Coptic Cairo .

In 641 AD, Egypt
Egypt
was invaded by the Arabs
Arabs
who faced off with the Byzantine
Byzantine
army, but found little to no resistance from the native Egyptian population. Local resistance by the Egyptians however began to materialize shortly thereafter and would last until at least the 9th century.

COPTS IN MODERN EGYPT

Main article: Copts
Copts
in Egypt
Egypt
Further information: Christianity
Christianity
in Egypt
Egypt
President Nasser
Nasser
welcomes a delegation of Coptic bishops (1965) Coptic flag
Coptic flag
.

Under Muslim
Muslim
rule, Christians
Christians
were second-class citizens, who paid special taxes, had little access to political power, but were exempt from military service. The Copts
Copts
were cut off from the mainstream of Christianity, but they were allowed to practice their religion unmolested. Their position improved dramatically under the rule of Muhammad Ali in the early 19th century. He abolished the Jizya
Jizya
(a tax on non-Muslims) and allowed Egyptians (Copts) to enroll in the army. Pope Cyril IV , 1854–61, reformed the church and encouraged broader Coptic participation in Egyptian affairs. Khedive Isma\'il Pasha , in power 1863–79, further promoted the Copts. He appointed them judges to Egyptian courts and awarded them political rights and representation in government. They flourished in business affairs.

Some Copts
Copts
participated in the Egyptian national movement for independence and occupied many influential positions. Two significant cultural achievements include the founding of the Coptic Museum in 1910 and the Higher Institute of Coptic Studies in 1954. Some prominent Coptic thinkers from this period are Salama Moussa , Louis Awad and Secretary General of the Wafd Party Makram Ebeid .

In 1952, Gamal Abdel Nasser led some army officers in a coup d'état against King Farouk , which overthrew the Kingdom of Egypt
Egypt
and established a republic. Nasser
Nasser
's mainstream policy was pan-Arab nationalism and socialism. The Copts
Copts
were severely affected by Nasser's nationalization policies, though they represented about 10 to 20 percent of the population. In addition, Nasser's pan-Arab policies undermined the Copts' strong attachment to and sense of identity about their Egyptian pre-Arab, and certainly non-Arab identity which resulted in permits to construct churches to be delayed along with Christian
Christian
religious courts to be closed.

Pharaonism

Main article: Pharaonism

Many Coptic intellectuals hold to "Pharaonism," which states that Coptic culture is largely derived from pre-Christian, Pharaonic culture, and is not indebted to Greece. It gives the Copts
Copts
a claim to a deep heritage in Egyptian history and culture. Pharaonism was widely held by Coptic and Muslim
Muslim
scholars in the early 20th century, and it helped bridge the divide between those groups. Most scholars today see Pharaonism as a late development shaped primarily by western Orientalism
Orientalism
, and doubt its validity.

CHURCH AFFAIRS

Today, members of the non- Chalcedonian Coptic Orthodox Church constitute the majority of the Egyptian Christian
Christian
population. Mainly through emigration and partly through European, American, and other missionary work and conversions, the Egyptian Christian
Christian
community now also includes other Christian
Christian
denominations such as Protestants
Protestants
(known in Arabic as Evangelicals), Roman and Eastern Rite Catholics , and other Orthodox congregations. The term _Coptic_ remains exclusive however to the Egyptian natives, as opposed to the Christians
Christians
of non-Egyptian origins. Some Protestant
Protestant
churches for instance are called "Coptic Evangelical Church", thus helping differentiate their native Egyptian congregations from churches attended by non-Egyptian immigrant communities such as Europeans or Americans.

In 2005 a group of Coptic activists created a flag to represent Copts worldwide.

The last head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria
Alexandria
, died 17 March 2012. On 4 November 2012, Bishop Tawadros was chosen as the new pope of Egypt's Coptic Christians. His name was selected from a glass bowl containing the three shortlisted candidates by a blindfolded boy at a ceremony in Cairo
Cairo
's St Mark\'s Cathedral .

COPTS IN MODERN SUDAN

Main article: Copts
Copts
in Sudan
Sudan
Further information: Christianity
Christianity
in Sudan
Sudan
Holy Mary Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, Khartoum
Khartoum
, Sudan
Sudan
.

Sudan
Sudan
has a native Coptic minority, although many Copts
Copts
in Sudan
Sudan
are descended from more recent Egyptian immigrants. Copts
Copts
in Sudan
Sudan
live mostly in northern cities, including Al Obeid , Atbara , Dongola , Khartoum
Khartoum
, Omdurman , Port Sudan
Sudan
, and Wad Medani . They number up to 500,000, or slightly over 1 percent of the Sudanese population. Due to their advanced education, their role in the life of the country has been more significant than their numbers suggest. They have occasionally faced forced conversion to Islam
Islam
, resulting in their emigration and decrease in number.

Modern immigration of Copts
Copts
to Sudan
Sudan
peaked in the early 19th century, and they generally received a tolerant welcome there. However, this was interrupted by a decade of persecution under Mahdist rule at the end of the 19th century. As a result of this persecution, many were forced to relinquish their faith, adopt Islam
Islam
, and intermarry with the native Sudanese. The Anglo-Egyptian invasion in 1898 allowed Copts
Copts
greater religious and economic freedom, and they extended their original roles as artisans and merchants into trading, banking, engineering, medicine, and the civil service. Proficiency in business and administration made them a privileged minority. However, the return of militant Islam
Islam
in the mid-1960s and subsequent demands by radicals for an Islamic constitution prompted Copts
Copts
to join in public opposition to religious rule.

Gaafar Nimeiry 's introduction of Islamic Sharia
Sharia
law in 1983 began a new phase of oppressive treatment of Copts, among other non-Muslims. After the overthrow of Nimeiry, Coptic leaders supported a secular candidate in the 1986 elections. However, when the National Islamic Front overthrew the elected government of Sadiq al-Mahdi with the help of the military, discrimination against Copts
Copts
returned in earnest. Hundreds of Copts
Copts
were dismissed from the civil service and judiciary.

In February 1991, a Coptic pilot working for Sudan
Sudan
Airways was executed for illegal possession of foreign currency. Before his execution, he had been offered amnesty and money if he converted to Islam
Islam
, but he refused. Thousands attended his funeral, and the execution was taken as a warning by many Copts, who began to flee the country.

Restrictions on the Copts' rights to Sudanese nationality followed, and it became difficult for them to obtain Sudanese nationality by birth or by naturalization, resulting in problems when attempting to travel abroad. The confiscation of Christian
Christian
schools and the imposition of an Arab-Islamic emphasis in language and history teaching were accompanied by harassment of Christian
Christian
children and the introduction of hijab dress laws. A Coptic child was flogged for failing to recite a Koranic verse. In contrast with the extensive media broadcasting of the Muslim
Muslim
Friday prayers , the radio ceased coverage of the Christian
Christian
Sunday service. As the civil war raged throughout the 1990s, the government focused its religious fervour on the south. Although experiencing discrimination, the Copts
Copts
and other long-established Christian
Christian
groups in the north had fewer restrictions than other types of Christians
Christians
in the south .

Today, the Coptic Church in Sudan
Sudan
is officially registered with the government, and is exempt from property tax. In 2005, the Sudanese government of National Unity (GNU) named a Coptic Orthodox priest to a government position, though the ruling Islamist party's continued dominance under the GNU provides ample reason to doubt its commitment to broader religious or ethnic representation.

COPTS IN MODERN LIBYA

Main article: Copts
Copts
in Libya
Libya
Further information: Christianity
Christianity
in Libya
Libya

The largest Christian
Christian
group in Libya
Libya
is the Coptic Orthodox Church , with a population of 60,000. The Coptic Church is known to have historical roots in Libya
Libya
long before the Arabs
Arabs
advanced westward from Egypt
Egypt
into Libya.

DEMOGRAPHICS

Further information: Christianity
Christianity
in Egypt
Egypt
, Christianity
Christianity
in Sudan
Sudan
, and Christianity
Christianity
in Libya
Libya

Living in countries with Muslim
Muslim
majorities (Egypt, Sudan, Libya), the size of the population of Copts
Copts
is a continuously disputed matter, frequently for reasons of religious jealousy and animosity.

The Coptic population in Egypt
Egypt
is difficult to estimate because researchers are forbidden by Egyptian authorities from asking a survey participant’s religion, but some official estimates state that Coptic Christians
Christians
represent from 5 to 10 percent or less of a population of over 83 million Egyptians while other independent and Christian
Christian
sources estimate much higher numbers, up to 23 percent of the population.

The Coptic population in Sudan
Sudan
is at about half a million or 1 percent of Sudanese population.

The Coptic population in Libya
Libya
is about over 60,000 or 1 percent of Libyan population.

DIASPORA

Main article: Coptic diaspora _ St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church in Bellaire, Texas ( Greater Houston
Greater Houston
). There are about 1-2 million Copts
Copts
living outside of Egypt, and are known as the Coptic diaspora _.

Outside of the Coptic primary area of residence within parts of present-day Egypt
Egypt
( Copts
Copts
in Egypt
Egypt
), Sudan
Sudan
( Copts
Copts
in Sudan
Sudan
), and Libya
Libya
( Copts
Copts
in Libya
Libya
), the largest Coptic diaspora population is located within the United States, Canada, and Australia. The numbers of the Censuses in the United States
United States
, Canada
Canada
, and Australia
Australia
are not fully correct since many Copts
Copts
listed themselves in the 2011 Census mistakenly as either Egyptians, Sudanese, Libyans, Americans, Canadians or Australians and by this way reducing the Coptic population in the 2011 Census in the United States, Canada, and Australia
Australia
respectively.

Nevertheless, the Coptic American (US) population is estimated to number about 200,000 (estimates of Coptic organizations ranging as high as a million). The Coptic Canadian population is estimated to number about 50,000 (estimates of Coptic organizations ranging as high as 200,000). The Coptic Australian population is estimated to number about 50,000 (estimates of Coptic organizations ranging as high as 100,000).

Smaller communities (below 100,000) are found in Australia
Australia
, Kuwait , the United Kingdom, France, South Africa, and Canada.

Minor communities below 10,000 people are reported from Jordan
Jordan
(8,000 Copts), Lebanon
Lebanon
(3,000 – 4,000 Copts), Germany
Germany
(3,000 Copts), Austria
Austria
(2,000 Copts), Switzerland
Switzerland
(1,000 Copts), and elsewhere.

It is noted that Copts
Copts
also live in Denmark, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, and Sweden.

PERSECUTION AND DISCRIMINATION IN EGYPT

Main articles: Persecution of Copts and Religion in Egypt
Egypt

Part of a series of articles on the

Modern persecution of Coptic Christians
Christians

OVERVIEW

* Christianity
Christianity
in Egypt
Egypt
* Human rights in Egypt
Egypt
* Secularism in Egypt
Egypt
* Judiciary of Egypt
Egypt
* Crime in Egypt
Egypt

MASSACRES

* Kosheh, 2000 * Nag Hammadi, 2010 * Alexandria, 2011 * Maspero, 2011 * Libya, 2015 * Botroseya, 2016 * Palm Sunday, 2017 * Minya, 2017

INCIDENTS

* Imbaba church attacks * St Fana Monastery
Monastery
attack * Alexandria
Alexandria
riots

FIGURES

*

* Sidhom Bishay * Master Malati

* Mohammed Hegazy * Bahaa el-Akkad

*

* Mark Gabriel * Zakaria Botros

* v * t * e

Religious freedom in Egypt
Egypt
is hampered to varying degrees by discriminatory and restrictive government policies. Coptic Christians, being the largest religious minority in Egypt, are also negatively affected. Copts
Copts
have faced increasing marginalization after the 1952 coup d\'état led by Gamal Abdel Nasser . Until recently, Christians were required to obtain presidential approval for even minor repairs in churches. Although the law was eased in 2005 by handing down the authority of approval to the governors, Copts
Copts
continue to face many obstacles and restrictions in building new churches. These restrictions do not apply for building mosques.

The Coptic community has been targeted by hate crimes resulting in Copts
Copts
being victims of murder by Islamic extremists. The most significant was the 2000–01 El Kosheh attacks, in which Muslims and Christians
Christians
were involved in bloody inter-religious clashes following a dispute between a Muslim
Muslim
and a Christian. "Twenty Christians
Christians
and one Muslim
Muslim
were killed after violence broke out in the town of el-Kosheh, 440 kilometres (270 mi) south of Cairo". In February 2001 a new Coptic church and 35 houses belonging to Christians
Christians
were burned.

In 2006, one person attacked three churches in Alexandria
Alexandria
, killing one person and injuring 5–16. The attacker was not linked to any organisation and described as "psychologically disturbed" by the Ministry of Interior . In May 2010, The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal
reported increasing waves of mob attacks by Muslims against Copts. Despite frantic calls for help, the police typically arrived after the violence was over. The police also coerced the Copts
Copts
to accept "reconciliation" with their attackers to avoid prosecuting them, with no Muslims convicted for any of the attacks. In Marsa Matrouh , a Bedouin mob of 3,000 Muslims tried to attack the city's Coptic population, with 400 Copts
Copts
having to barricade themselves in their church while the mob destroyed 18 homes, 23 shops and 16 cars.

Members of U.S. Congress have expressed concern about "human trafficking" of Coptic women and girls who are victims of abductions, forced conversion to Islam, sexual exploitation and forced marriage to Muslim
Muslim
men.

Boutros Boutros-Ghali is a Copt who served as Egypt
Egypt
's foreign minister under President Anwar Sadat
Anwar Sadat
. Today, only two Copts
Copts
are on Egypt
Egypt
's governmental cabinet: Finance Minister Youssef Boutros Ghali and Environment Minister Magued George. There is also currently one Coptic governor out of 25, that of the upper Egyptian governorate of Qena , and is the first Coptic governor in decades. In addition, Naguib Sawiris , an extremely successful businessman and one of the world's 100 wealthiest people, is a Copt. In 2002, under the Mubarak government, Coptic Christmas (January 7) was recognized as an official holiday. However, many Copts
Copts
continue to complain of being minimally represented in law enforcement, state security and public office, and of being discriminated against in the workforce on the basis of their religion. Most Copts
Copts
do not support independence or separation movement from other Egyptians.

While freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Egyptian constitution, according to Human Rights Watch , " Egyptians are able to convert to Islam
Islam
generally without difficulty, but Muslims who convert to Christianity
Christianity
face difficulties in getting new identity papers and some have been arrested for allegedly forging such documents." The Coptic community, however, takes pains to prevent conversions from Christianity
Christianity
to Islam
Islam
due to the ease with which Christians
Christians
can often become Muslim. Public officials, being conservative themselves, intensify the complexity of the legal procedures required to recognize the religion change as required by law. Security agencies will sometimes claim that such conversions from Islam
Islam
to Christianity
Christianity
(or occasionally vice versa) may stir social unrest, and thereby justify themselves in wrongfully detaining the subjects, insisting that they are simply taking steps to prevent likely social troubles from happening. In 2007, a Cairo
Cairo
administrative court denied 45 citizens the right to obtain identity papers documenting their reversion to Christianity
Christianity
after converting to Islam. However, in February 2008 the Supreme Administrative Court overturned the decision, allowing 12 citizens who had reverted to Christianity
Christianity
to re-list their religion on identity cards, but they will specify that they had adopted Islam for a brief period of time.

The Egyptian Census of 1897 reported the percentage of Non-Muslims in Urban Provinces as 14.7 percent (13.2 percent Christians, 1.4 percent Jews). The Egyptian Census of 1986 reported the percentage of Non-Muslims in Urban Provinces as 6.1 percent (5.7 percent Christians, 0 percent Jews). The decline in the Jewish representation is interpreted through the creation of the state of Israel, and the subsequent emigration of the Egyptian Jews. There is no explanation for a 55 percent decline in the percentage of Christians
Christians
in Egypt. It has been suggested that Egyptian censuses held after 1952 have been politicized to under-represent the Christian
Christian
population.

In August 2013, following the 3 July 2013 Coup and clashes between the military and Morsi supporters, there were widespread attacks on Coptic churches and institutions in Egypt
Egypt
by Sunni Muslims . According to at least one Egyptian scholar (Samuel Tadros), the attacks are the worst violence against the Coptic Church since the 14th century.

_ USA Today _ reported that "forty churches have been looted and torched, while 23 others have been attacked and heavily damaged". More than 45 churches across Egypt
Egypt
were attacked. The Facebook
Facebook
page of the Muslim
Muslim
Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party was "rife with false accusations meant to foment hatred against Copts". The Party's page claimed that the Coptic Church had declared "war against Islam
Islam
and Muslims" and that "The Pope of the Church is involved in the removal of the first elected Islamist president. The Pope of the Church alleges Islamic Sharia
Sharia
is backwards, stubborn, and reactionary." On August 15, nine Egyptian human rights groups under the umbrella group "Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights", released a statement saying,

"In December … Brotherhood leaders began fomenting anti-Christian sectarian incitement. The anti-Coptic incitement and threats continued unabated up to the demonstrations of June 30 and, with the removal of President Morsi … morphed into sectarian violence, which was sanctioned by … the continued anti-Coptic rhetoric heard from the group's leaders on the stage … throughout the sit-in."

LANGUAGE

Main articles: Coptic language
Coptic language
and Egyptian language Coptic and Arabic inscriptions in an Old Cairo
Cairo
church.

THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS COPTIC TEXT. Without proper rendering support , you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Coptic letters.

The Coptic language
Coptic language
is the most recent stage of the Egyptian language .

Coptic should more correctly be used to refer to the script rather than the language itself. Even though this script was introduced as far back as the 1st century BC, it has been applied to the writing of the Egyptian language from the 1st century AD to the present day. Coptic remained the spoken language of most Egyptians until it was slowly replaced by colloquial Egyptian Arabic around the 17th century, although it may have survived in isolated pockets for a little longer.

Today, Coptic is the native language of only about 300 Copts
Copts
around the world. It is also the liturgical language of the native Egyptian Churches (the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Coptic Catholic Church ). It is taught worldwide in many prestigious institutions, but its teaching within Egypt
Egypt
remains limited.

Dialects of Coptic language:

* Sahidic : Theban or Upper Egyptian . * Bohairic
Bohairic
: The dialect of the Nile Delta and of the medieval and modern Coptic Church. * Akhmimic * Lycopolitan (also known as Subakhmimic) * Fayyumic * Oxyrhynchite

CALENDAR

Main article: Coptic calendar
Coptic calendar

The Coptic calendar, also called the Alexandrian calendar, is used by the Coptic Orthodox Church and also by Ethiopia as its official calendar (with different names). This calendar is based on the ancient Egyptian calendar . To avoid the calendar creep of the latter, a reform of the ancient Egyptian calendar was introduced at the time of Ptolemy III (Decree of Canopus, in 238 BC) which consisted of the intercalation of a sixth epagomenal day every fourth year. However, this reform was opposed by the Egyptian priests, and the idea was not adopted until 25 BC, when the Roman Emperor
Emperor
Augustus
Augustus
formally reformed the calendar of Egypt
Egypt
, keeping it forever synchronized with the newly introduced Julian calendar . To distinguish it from the Ancient Egyptian calendar, which remained in use by some astronomers until medieval times, this reformed calendar is known as the Coptic calendar. Its years and months coincide with those of the Ethiopian calendar but have different numbers and names.

COPTIC YEAR

See also: Computus

The Coptic year is the extension of the ancient Egyptian civil year, retaining its subdivision into the three seasons, four months each. The three seasons are commemorated by special prayers in the Coptic Liturgy. This calendar is still in use all over Egypt
Egypt
by farmers to keep track of the various agricultural seasons. The Coptic calendar has 13 months, 12 of 30 days each and an intercalary month at the end of the year of 5 or 6 days, depending whether the year is a leap year or not. The year starts on 29 August in the Julian Calendar
Calendar
or on the 30th in the year before (Julian) Leap Years. The Coptic Leap Year follows the same rules as the Julian Calendar
Calendar
so that the extra month always has six days in the year before a Julian Leap Year.

The Feast of Neyrouz marks the first day of the Coptic year. Ignorant of the Egyptian language for the most part, the Arabs
Arabs
confused the Egyptian new year's celebrations, which the Egyptians called the feast of _Ni-Yarouou_ (the feast the rivers), with the Persian feast of Nowruz
Nowruz
. The misnomer remains today, and the celebrations of the Egyptian new year on the first day of the month of Thout are known as the Neyrouz. Its celebration falls on the 1st day of the month of Thout , the first month of the Egyptian year, which for AD 1901 to 2098 usually coincides with 11 September, except before a Gregorian leap year when it's September 12. Coptic years are counted from AD 284, the year Diocletian became Roman Emperor, whose reign was marked by tortures and mass executions of Christians, especially in Egypt. Hence, the Coptic year is identified by the abbreviation A.M. (for _Anno Martyrum_ or "Year of the Martyrs"). The A.M. abbreviation is also used for the unrelated Jewish year (_Anno Mundi_).

Every fourth Coptic year is a leap year _without exception_, as in the Julian calendar, so the above-mentioned new year dates apply only between AD 1900 and 2099 inclusive in the Gregorian Calendar. In the Julian Calendar, the new year is _always_ 29 August, except before a Julian leap year when it's August 30. Easter
Easter
is reckoned by the Julian Calendar
Calendar
in the Old Calendarist way.

To obtain the Coptic year number, subtract from the Julian year number either 283 (before the Julian new year) or 284 (after it).

PROMINENT COPTS

Boutros Boutros-Ghali Main article: List of Copts

Some of the most well known Copts
Copts
include

* Boutros Boutros-Ghali , the sixth Secretary-General of the United Nations . * Cardiothoracic surgeon Sir Magdi Yacoub . * Civil engineer Hani Azer . * Billionaire Fayez Sarofim . * Naguib Sawiris , the CEO of Orascom . * Mena Massoud , an Egyptian-Canadian actor who was recently cast as Aladdin
Aladdin
in the upcoming Disney's live action remake of Aladdin
Aladdin
.

SEE ALSO

* Egypt
Egypt
portal * Sudan
Sudan
portal * Libya
Libya
portal * Oriental Orthodoxy portal

* Aigyptos , in Greek mythology * Coptic art * Coptic Catholic Church * Coptic flag
Coptic flag
* Coptic identity * Coptic language
Coptic language
* Coptic Museum * Coptic Orthodox Church * Coptic Saints
Coptic Saints
* Coptology * Christianity
Christianity
in Egypt
Egypt
* Christianity
Christianity
in Sudan
Sudan
* Christianity
Christianity
in Libya
Libya
* Coptic diaspora * List of prominent Copts
Copts
worldwide * Coptic, currently in incubator stage

FOOTNOTES

* ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ " Coptic Orthodox Christmas to be low-key – Tight security: On alert after bombing in Egypt". _Montreal Gazette_. 4 January 2011. Archived from the original on 23 February 2011. Retrieved 5 January 2011. * ^ "Egyptian Coptic protesters freed". _BBC_. 22 December 2004.

* ^ Official population counts put the number of Copts
Copts
at around 10–15 percent of the population, while some Coptic voices claim figures as high as 23 percent. While some scholars defend the soundness of the official population census (cf. E.J. Chitham, The Coptic Community in Egypt. Spatial and Social Change, Durham 1986), most scholars and international observers assume that the Christian share of Egypt's population is higher than stated by the Egyptian government. Most independent estimates fall within range between 10 percent and 20 percent, for example the CIA
CIA
World Factbook "Egypt". _The World Factbook_. CIA
CIA
. Retrieved 27 August 2010. , Khairi Abaza; Mark Nakhla (25 October 2005). "The Copts
Copts
and Their Political Implications in Egypt". The Washington Institute. Retrieved 27 August 2010. , Encyclopædia Britannica (1985), or Macropædia (15th ed., Chicago). For a projected 83,000,000+ Egyptians in 2009, this assumption yields the above figures. In 2008, Pope Shenouda III and Bishop Morkos, bishop of Shubra
Shubra
, declared that the number of Copts
Copts
in Egypt
Egypt
is more than 12 million. In the same year, father Morkos Aziz the prominent priest in Cairo declared that the number of Copts
Copts
(inside Egypt) exceeds 16 million. "?". United Copts
Copts
of Great Britain. 29 October 2008. Retrieved 27 August 2010. and "?". العربية.نت. Retrieved 27 August 2010. Furthermore, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy Khairi Abaza; Mark Nakhla (25 October 2005). "The Copts
Copts
and Their Political Implications in Egypt". Retrieved 27 August 2010. Encyclopædia Britannica (1985), and Macropædia (15th ed., Chicago) estimate the percentage of Copts
Copts
in Egypt
Egypt
to be up to 20 percent of the Egyptian population. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ _E_ _F_ _G_ _H_ _I_ _J_ _K_ _L_ _M_ _N_ Minority Rights Group International, World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples – Sudan
Sudan
: Copts, 2008, available at: http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/49749ca6c.html * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Tore Kjeilen. " Coptic Church - LookLex Encyclopaedia". * ^ _A_ _B_ 2009 American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau "All Egyptians including Copts
Copts
197,160" * ^ According to published accounts and several Coptic/US sources (including the _US-Coptic Association_), the Coptic Orthodox Church has between 700,000 and one million members in the United States
United States
(c. 2005–2007). "_Why CCU?_". Coptic Credit Union. Retrieved June 21, 2009. * ^ _A_ _B_ "_Coptics flock to welcome \'Baba\' at Pittsburgh airport_". Pittsburgh Tribune (2007). Retrieved June 21, 2009. * ^ _A_ _B_ "_State\'s first Coptic Orthodox church is a vessel of faith_". JS Online (2005). Archived from the original on August 21, 2011. Retrieved June 21, 2009. * ^ _A_ _B_ "_Coptic Diaspora_". US- Copts
Copts
Association (2007). Archived from the original on 2007-02-20. Retrieved June 21, 2009. * ^ _A_ _B_ Archived January 7, 2011, at the Wayback Machine . * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ In the year 2003, there was an estimated 70,000 Copts
Copts
in New South Wales alone: " Coptic Orthodox Church (NSW) Property Trust Act 1990". _New South Wales Consolidated Acts_. * ^ "Le religioni in Italia: La Chiesa copta". * ^ Teller, Matthew (12 July 2015). "Free to pray - but don\'t try to convert anyone". _BBC_. Retrieved 12 July 2015. Ten-thousand or more live in the UAE, and young, bearded priest Father Markos, 12 years in Dubai, told me his flock are "more than happy - they enjoy their life, they are free." * ^ "King commends Coptic Church\'s role in promoting coexistence". Jordanembassyus.org. June 3, 2005. Archived from the original on September 26, 2011. Retrieved November 18, 2011. * ^ _A_ _B_ Come Across And Help
Help
Us Book 2 Archived October 8, 2008, at the Wayback Machine . * ^ _A_ _B_ CopticMission Archived January 31, 2011, at the Wayback Machine . * ^ _A_ _B_ "Lebanon: Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor - 2012 Report on International Religious Freedom". U.S. Department of State. 20 May 2013. Retrieved 6 December 2015. * ^ _A_ _B_ Adherents.com: By Location * ^ _A_ _B_ Austria
Austria
2004 Religious Freedom news * ^ "Orthodox Copts
Copts
open church in Switzerland". Swissinfo.org. July 17, 2004. Retrieved November 18, 2011. * ^ Minahan 2002 , p. 467 * ^ Cole, Ethan (July 8, 2008). "Egypt\'s Christian- Muslim
Muslim
Gap Growing Bigger". The Christian
Christian
Post . Retrieved 2008-10-02. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ " Egypt
Egypt
from "U.S. Department of State/Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs"". United States
United States
Department of State . September 30, 2008. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ " Egypt
Egypt
from "Foreign and Commonwealth Office"". Foreign and Commonwealth Office -UK Ministry of Foreign Affairs . August 15, 2008. * ^ _Who are the Christians
Christians
in the Middle East?_. Betty Jane Bailey. June 18, 2009. ISBN 978-0-8028-1020-5 . * ^ Ackroyd, P. R.; Evans, C. F. (1963). _The Cambridge History of the Bible: Volume 1, From the Beginnings to Jerome_. Cambridge University Press. p. 27. ISBN 9780521099738 . Retrieved 16 October 2016. * ^ "The people of Egypt
Egypt
before the Arab conquest in the 7th century identified themselves and their language in Greek as Aigyptios (Arabic qibt, Westernized as Copt); when Egyptian Muslims later ceased to call themselves Aigyptioi, the term became the distinctive name of the Christian
Christian
minority." Coptic Orthodox Church. _Encyclopædia Britannica Online_. 2007 * ^ OED s.v. "Copt". * ^ qtd. in M. Hussein. _el Ittigahat el Wataneyya fil Adab el Muʻaṣir_ __. Vol. 2. Cairo, 1954 * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ " Egypt
Egypt
from "The World Factbook"". American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) . September 4, 2008. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ IPS News . Retrieved 09-27-2008. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Chan, Kenneth. Thousands Protest Egypt\'s Neglect of Coptic Persecution". _The Christian
Christian
Post _. December 7, 2004. Retrieved 28 September 2008. * ^ _A_ _B_ "The Copts
Copts
and Their Political Implications in Egypt". * ^ NLG Solutions . _Egypt_. Retrieved 28 September 2008. * ^ Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea
, the author of Ecclesiastical History in the fourth century, states that st. Mark came to Egypt
Egypt
in the first or third year of the reign of Emperor
Emperor
Claudius, i.e. 41 or 43 A.D. "Two Thousand years of Coptic Christianity" Otto F.A. Meinardus p28. * ^ "Circumcision". _Columbia Encyclopedia_. Columbia University Press. 2011. * ^ Mawaiz wa al-'i'tibar bi dhikr al-khitat wa al-'athar (2 vols., Bulaq, 1854), by Al-Maqrizi * ^ Chronicles, by John of Nikiû * ^ Todros, ch 3–4. * ^ _A_ _B_ Nisan, Mordechai (2002). _Minorities in the Middle East_. McFarland. p. 144. ISBN 978-0-7864-1375-1 . * ^ van der Vliet, Jacques (June 2009), "The Copts: 'Modern Sons of the Pharaohs'?", _Church History & Religious Culture_, 89 (1–3): 279–90, doi :10.1163/187124109x407934 . * ^ Reid, Donald Malcolm (2003). "7". _Whose Pharaohs?: Archaeology, Museums, and Egyptian National Identity from Napoleon to World War I_. U. of California Press. pp. 258ff. * ^ The Free Copts
Copts
– The Coptic Flag, Meanings and Colors * ^ "Bishop Tawadros new pope of Egypt\'s Coptic Christians". _BBC News_. 4 November 2012. Retrieved 4 November 2012. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ "Copts". * ^ Yerkes, Sarah (20 June 2016). "What Egypt
Egypt
under Sissi is really like for Coptic Christians". Egyptian authorities prevent surveyors from asking a participant’s religion when doing research. * ^ "The Copts
Copts
and Their Political Implications in Egypt". Washington Institute for Near East Policy . October 25, 2005. * ^ "Egyptian Coptic protesters freed". BBC. 22 December 2004. Retrieved 27 August 2010. * ^ "Research in population and demography of France
France
estimates the coptic population to be". Institut National Etudes Démographiques. * ^ "Estimates of the size of Egypt\'s Christian
Christian
population vary from the low government figures of 6 to 7 million to the 12 million reported by some Christian
Christian
leaders. The actual numbers may be in the 9 to 9.5 million range, out of an Egyptian population of more than 60 million". The Washington Post. Retrieved 10 October 2008. * ^ _ Egypt
Egypt
from "msn encarta"_. Encarta . September 30, 2008. Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. * ^ "International Religious Freedom Report: Libya" _Jewish Virtual Library_. Retrieved July 19, 2006. * ^ According to published accounts and several Coptic/US sources (including the _US-Coptic Association_), the Coptic Orthodox Church has between 700,000 and one million members in the United States
United States
(c. 2005–2007). ^^"_Why CCU?_". Coptic Credit Union. Retrieved June 21, 2009. * ^ "Protest Egyptian government allowing criminal attacks on Coptic Christians". * ^ _A_ _B_ "Diocese of Australia". _Diocese of Australia_. * ^ Kuwait * ^ Copts
Copts
number at least 20,000 in Britain middle school ireland marriages family at middlekilleavy.com Archived January 21, 2009, at the Wayback Machine . plus another 5,000 – 10,000 Copts
Copts
who are directly under the British Orthodox Church (1999 figures) * ^ Canada
Canada
Free Press: According to the Canadian Coptic Association, there are approximately 50,000 Orthodox Copts
Copts
in Canada. * ^ King commends Coptic Church\'s role in promoting coexistence Archived September 26, 2011, at the Wayback Machine . * ^ Orthodox Copts
Copts
open church in Switzerland * ^ WorldWide Religious News. Church Building Regulations Eased Archived March 18, 2009, at the Wayback Machine .. December 13, 2005. * ^ Compass Direct News. Church Building Regulations Eased. December 13, 2005. * ^ "Egyptian court orders clashes retrial". BBC News. July 30, 2001. * ^ " Copts
Copts
Under Fire". The Free Lance-Star. November 23, 2002. Retrieved August 2, 2015. * ^ Miles, Hugh (April 15, 2006). "Coptic Christians
Christians
attacked in churches". London: The Telegraph . Retrieved 2008-10-07. * ^ BBC. Egypt
Egypt
church attacks spark anger, April 15, 2006. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Zaki, Moheb (May 18, 2010). "Egypt\'s Persecuted Christians". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved June 4, 2010. * ^ " United States
United States
Commission on Int\'l Religious Freedom" (PDF). _USCIRF_. * ^ Abrams, Joseph (April 21, 2010). "House Members Press White House to Confront Egypt
Egypt
on Forced Marriages". _foxnews.com_. Retrieved November 8, 2010. * ^ ArabicNews.com. Copts
Copts
welcome Presidential announcement on Eastern Christmas Holiday Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine .. December 20, 2002. * ^ Freedom House. Egypt\'s Endangered Christians. Archived January 7, 2003, at Archive.is * ^ Human Rights Watch. Egypt: Overview of human rights issues in Egypt. 2005 * ^ Coptic Pharaonic Republic Archived February 18, 2009, at the Wayback Machine . * ^ Human Rights Watch. World report 2007: Egypt
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Archived September 28, 2008, at the Wayback Machine .. * ^ "Egypt: National Unity and the Coptic issue. (Arab Strategic Report 2004-2005)". Archived from the original on 2007-09-12. Retrieved 2007-09-12. * ^ Egypt: Egypt
Egypt
Arrests 22 Muslim
Muslim
converts to Christianity. November 03, 2003 * ^ Shahine, Gihan. "Fraud, not Freedom". Archived October 15, 2008, at the Wayback Machine . Ahram Weekly, 3 – May 9, 2007 * ^ Audi, Nadim (February 11, 2008). "Egyptian Court Allows Return to Christianity". _ The New York Times _. Retrieved 2008-10-07. * ^ Associated Press . Egypt
Egypt
court upholds right of converted Muslims to return to Christianity
Christianity
Archived November 21, 2011, at the Wayback Machine .. 2008-02-09. * ^ AFP. Egypt
Egypt
allows converts to revert to Christianity
Christianity
on ID Archived April 16, 2009, at the Wayback Machine .. February, 2008. * ^ Chulov, Martin (Aug 15, 2013). "Egypt\'s Coptic Christians report fresh attacks on churches: Christian
Christian
leaders blame Muslim Brotherhood supporters for arson and other attacks, including shooting death of teenage girl". _The Guardian_. Retrieved 2013-08-16. * ^ Khairat, Mohamed (Aug 16, 2013). "Coptic churches burn amid violence in Egypt: Coptic Christians