Title: Controversial Statistics: Articles from Egyptian Media Dealing with Coptic Representation in Egypt and Coptic Migration Statistic, 1997-2012

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CAPMAS stated there were 1442 churches in Egypt but the ministry of the interior reported 500 registered churches existed. This difference could be due to part of these churches having been established before the ministry of interior's decision in 1934, or to the fact that many were built without first obtaining permits and were thus unregistered. […] the total number of churches for which licenses were issued within the last ten years were one hundred and twenty seven, of which sixty eight were Coptic Orthodox. Of that number licenses were issued for twenty-two new churches, while four licenses were issued for the rebuilding and repair of existing churches, while forty two were considered to be existing churches (sometimes of long standing) and were granted licenses.

  1. Muhammad Nur, “Jibra’il pretends that Copts’ rights are restricted and calls on Copts to demonstrate and stage sit-ins,” Ākhir Sā‘ah in Arab West Report, Week 14, Art 35, April 8, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2009/week-14/35-jibr257299l-pretends-copts-rights-are-restricted-and-calls-copts-demonstrate.

The author “claims that there are many Copts who occupy important posts in governmental and parliamentary bodies. Similarly, he claims that Copts enjoy a strong economic power in Egypt, referring to three Coptic businessmen; namely, Najīb Sāwīris, Ra’ūf Ghabbūr and Tharwat Basīlī. He claims that Copts own up to 25 percent of contractors’ companies and 60 percent of properties in the pharmaceutical and medical sectors. As such, he concludes, Copts “occupy important financial and economic positions.”

  1. Hani Samir, “Bishop Bissenti: the Muslim who sees the country torturing his Christian neighbor for building a church will most probably deal with him as a second class citizen”, Al-Dustūr in Arab West Report, Week 15, Art 20, April 15, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2009/week-15/20-bishop-bissenti-muslim-who-sees-country-torturing-his-christian-neighbor.

“Bishop Bissenti sheds light on some of the problems facing Copts inside Egypt and asks for applying the principle of citizenship which is mentioned in the Constitution.

The statistics about the number of Copts are always controversial as the government says there are eight million while the statements of some churchmen indicate that there are 15 million … so do you have an approximate number? There are no less than twelve million Copts in Egypt […] (For more about the number of Copts in Egypt see AWR 2008, Week 52, Article 17)”

  1. Robert al-Faris, “When fanaticism takes over,” Watani International in Arab West Report, Week 16, Art 14, April 19, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2009/week-16/14-when-fanaticism-takes-over.

“The Katiba al-Tibiya (The Theban Militia), a cultural, research, and publishing society affiliated to the church of the Holy Virgin in Ezbet al-Nakhl, Cairo, has issued a comprehensive report on the religious discrimination controversy surrounding the education system in Egypt.

The second section of the report deals with the educational curricula, revealing details of certain units of the Arabic curriculum across the board. Most units taught as part of the Arabic course are heavily riddled with verses from the Qur’an. In many instances these verses do not add anything to the lesson itself, thus indirectly turning them into religion lessons. The report cited as example the number of units taught in schools in the first term as 126 units, 52 of which contain religious verses or connotations. All these lessons clearly advocate Islam as the source of all good and Muslims the best people.”

  1. ‘Antar ‘Abd al-Latif, “A book reveals the first census of expatriate Copts and their relationship with Israel,” Ṣawt al-Ummah in Arab-West Report, Week 19, Art 41, May 11, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2009/week-19/41-book-reveals-first-census-expatriate-copts-and-their-relationship-israel.

Book review of ‘Aqbāt al-Mahjar; Sudā‘ fī Dimāgh Misr’ (Coptic Expatriates; Egypt’s Headache) by Muhammad Zayyān. The phenomenon of Coptic expatriates took shape after expatriate Copts used the “West-originated culture of protest” as a means of expressing themselves. Zayyān claims there are more than one million Coptic expatriates in the U.S and Canada, 750.000 Coptic expatriates in Australia in addition to another million distributed in Europe, New Zealand and South America.

  1. Shayma’ ‘Adil, “Statistics: 27 Copts in the parliament in 1942, no Copts in the parliament in 1957 and three in 2005,” Al-Miṣrī al-Yawm in Arab West Report, Week 20, Art 44, May 20, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2009/week-20/44-statistics-27-copts-parliament-1942-no-copts-parliament-1957-and-three-2005.

“The statistics revealed that the highest Coptic representation in the parliament was in 1942 when Copts occupied 27 seats in the People’s Assembly out of a total of 264. The 27 Coptic members were all elected. However, the lowest representation was in 1957 when Copts were not at all represented in the parliament. The number of Coptic MPs in 1957 was zero. In the year 2000, Copts occupied six seats in the Egyptian Parliament; three of them were assigned and not elected.”

  1. Iman Ibrahim, “Copts and politics; a shining history and a reality waiting for reform,” Al-Jumhūrīyah in Arab West Report, Week 21, Art 20, May 24, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2009/week-21/20-copts-and-politics-shining-history-and-reality-waiting-reform.

The article provides a list of total number MPs and that of Copts in various different years.

  1. Hani Samir, “Arab Christians were off Obama’s accounts,” Al-Dustūr in Arab West Report, Week 22, Art 6, June 3, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2009/week-22/6-arab-christians-were-obamas-accounts.

On the background of President Obama’s visit to Egypt, the author highlights the Christian presence in the Middle East and how the American administration can deal with the issue.

Dyāb further reports on a study by Muhammad ‘Imārah in which he stated that 70 percent of emigrating Egyptians are Christian and that Christians numbers have decreased so much that Christians are now less than six percent of the population. ‘Imārah claims that 95 percent of Egyptians who get random emigration visas to the United States are Christian. He claims that it is part of an American plan to empty the region of Christians, which is in his opinion a victory for the West, the Western church and the Zionist state to destroy the social structure in the region. In addition to their desire to merge Eastern Christians in Western Christianity and take them away from the source of Christianity that was born of their homelands.

  1. Hani Daniel, “Is it time for representing the Copts through the quota system?!”, Waṭanī in Arab West Report, Week 24, Art 49, June 14, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2009/week-24/49-it-time-representing-copts-through-quota-system.

“After the agreement of Parliament to allocate 56 of its seats for women within the context of what is known as the quota, many people questioned the reasons for not allocating a number of seats for the Copts who are underrepresented in Parliament. As a result, a suggestion was made to set aside twenty seats for the Copts.”

  1. Hani Samir, “‘Aziz: Copts should have a quota in the People’s Assembly to participate in the running of the country,” Al-Dustūr in Arab West Report, Week 25, Art 40, June 21, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2009/week-25/40-caz299z-copts-should-have-quota-peoples-assembly-participate-running-country.

“Father Marqus ‘Azīz gives suggestions for a just representation of Copts in the Egyptian Parliament. Father ‘Azīz believes that there should be a quota for Copts in the People’s Assembly, adding that the government says Copts comprise 10 percent of the population, while the Copts say they amount to 20 percent, therefore the average of the two would be 15 percent, and therefore their representation at the People’s Assembly should match this percentage. Accordingly, Copts should have 33 constituencies in the different regions throughout Egypt where there are concentrations of Copts, Egypt where the competition would be between Coptic nominees. Muslims and Copts in those constituencies vote and as such there would be 66 Christian parliament members freely elected.”

  1. Amir al-Sarraf, “The network of secret churches in Egypt,” Al-Wafd in Arab West Report, Week 28, Art 23, July 9, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2009/week-28/23-network-secret-churches-egypt.

“The requests of Copts resident abroad have combined with internal voices to demand the removal of such constraints, as they say that the number of churches is insufficient for the Coptic population, estimated by Pope Shenouda to exceed 12 million. (Reviewer: there are widely differing estimates of the number of Christians in Egypt. The figure cited is one of the higher ones.) A trusted source reveals that the number of Orthodox churches is 1326. Furthermore, the article mentions detailed statistics about churches all over Egypt.”

  1. Suha Salah, “Expatriate Copts incite the world against Egypt!” Al-Wafd in Arab West Report, Week 29, Art 48, July 16, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2009/week-29/48-expatriate-copts-incite-world-against-egypt.

“‘Abd al-Masīh Basīt, Pastor of al-‘Azrā’ Church in Musturud, says that Copts have various problems that are ignored in Egypt and there are 2.5 million Copts in Australia, America and Europe that need serious solutions to what is happening. Basīt called for solving Egyptian problems inside Egypt in order not to give the chance for expatriate Copts or Jews to interfere in Egyptian affairs.”

  1. Yusuf Sidhum, “Flagrant double standards,” Watani International in Arab West Report, Week 29, Art 54, July 19, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2009/week-29/54-flagrant-double-standards.

“The author discusses double standards in Egyptian politics, commenting on quotas being assigned to women, and the proposed quota for Copts.

If numbers are any guide, it would help to recall that, in the 10 Egyptian parliaments before 1950, Coptic representation amounted to some 27 out of a total of 264 seats. In 2005 only one Copt made it to Parliament through the ballot box and three others were appointed by the President, out of a total 454 seats. What more proof of the severe decline in Coptic representation? Yet there are those who insist on recalling that Copts rejected a parliamentary quota in 1923, conveniently forgetting that Copts never needed a quota then, in the prime liberal era.”

  1. Manal Mahmud, “Pope Shenouda receives ‘A’ishah ‘Abd al-Hadi [Egypt’s minister of manpower and emigration],” Al-Wafd in Arab-West Report, Week 30, Art 31, July 29, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2009/week-30/31-pope-shenouda-receives-c256ishah-cabd-al-h257d299-egypts-minister-manpower-and.

A meeting between Pope Shenouda and Egypt’s minister of manpower and emigration on the sidelines of the annual conference for Egyptians abroad. ‘Abd al-Hādī confirmed that there were continuous efforts to create communication and dialogue channels with Egyptians abroad. The meeting was attended by Bishop Yū’annis and Bishop Armiyā, the pope’s secretaries, and Hānī ‘Azīz, the Counselor of the General Union for Egyptians abroad.

  1. Katia Saqqa, “A Coptic president in Egypt,” Al-Wafd in Arab West Report, Week 31, Art 27, September 13, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2009/week-31/27-coptic-president-egypt.

In the article “Majdī Salāmah […] pointed out the “flaw” of Dr. Fathī Surūr, speaker of Egypt’s People’s Assembly, who denied in an interview with the BBC the existence of discrimination against Copts and that Copts are not evolved in politics in Egypt because they preferred business.

He further argued that there were 16 Copts in Egypt who met the conditions of nomination to presidency. He elaborated that four parties in Egypt have the right to nominate members of there supreme board for the presidential elections. Those are al-Wafd, al-Tajammu‘, al-Ghad and the National Democratic Party. In the four parties there are 16 Copts occupying positions in the supreme boards: Munīr Fakhrī ‘Abd al-Nūr, secretary general, Ramzī Zaqlamah, assistant of the head of the party, Sāmih Makram ‘Ubayd, assistant secretary, in addition to Ridā Edward and Dr. Rif‘at Kāmil, and they are all qualified to run the presidential elections.
Three Coptic members of the secretariat general of al-Tajammu‘ Party meet the same conditions: ‘Aryān Nasīf, Ikrām Labīb and Wajīh Shukrī. In al-Ghad Party, Salāmah mentions five leading members; Najīb Jibrā’īl, Fawzī James Hīdrā, Ridā Fānūs and Majdī Fikrī (only four names were mentioned).
In the ruling National Democratic Party, there are four Copts in the supreme board who also meet the conditions (no names mentioned). Moreover, in the Egyptian legislations there is no rule or law that prevents Copts from being presidents.”

  1. Majid ‘Atiyah, “Why do al-Sharif and Surur reject the allocation of a quota to Christians in state councils,” Al-Dustūr in Arab West Report, Week 31, Art 81, August 5, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2009/week-31/81-why-do-al-shar299f-and-sur363r-reject-allocation-quota-christians-state.

Mājid ‘Atīyah writes about al-Sharīf and Surūr’s rejection of the designation of a quota for Christians in the Shūrá Council and the People’s Assembly.

“Safwat al-Sharīf, former Minister of Informationand president of al-Shūrá Council, who knows that the number of Christian members in the council does not exceed 1.5%.
Dr. Fathī Surūr, President of the People’s Assembly, who is satisfied with having five Christian members in the council.
The reason given by all who made such declarations was that “Christians are part of the Egyptian fabric and specifying a special quota for them would mean a discrimination that threatens national unity and is totally rejected,” ‘Attiyah writes.
“The question now is,” he continues, “are not women part of the nation’s fabric? And the 50% of workers and farmers, are not they part of the state?” (Reviewer: this is a reference to the fact that a quota for women’s representation in parliament was recently approved. The Egyptian constitution also stipulates that a minimum of 50 percent of parliamentary seats be held by workers or peasants, although the definitions of ’worker’ and ’peasant’ are by no means narrow.)”

  1. Mirvat al-Shaykh and Ala’ al-Jamal, “‘There are no statistics for the number of Christians, Shi‘ites or Baha’is in Egypt,’ says Abu Bakr,” Ṣawt al-Ummah in Arab-West Report, Week 32, Art 68, August 8, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2009/week-32/68-there-are-no-statistics-number-christians-sh299cites-or-bah257299s-egypt-says.

Ṣawt al-Ummah interviews Lt. Abū Bakr al-Jindī, director of the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics who says that the most serious problem that CAPMAS faces is imprecision in responses to the questionnaire of CAPMAS.” This affects the numbers and data we collect from people. You can get three different answers even to the simplest questions about the number of family members.” The question about religion has become optional in the census of 2006. “For this reason, the agency does not collect statistics about the number of Christians and Shī‘ites. As for the Bahā’īs, there is no religion with this name, we only include Islam, Christianity and Judaism and add a slot for ‘other.’”

  1. Ayman ‘Abd al-Majid, “Rose al-Yūsuf breaks into the lairs of fitnah press,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West Report, Week 34, Art 16, August 20, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2009/week-34/16-rose-al-y363suf-breaks-lairs-fitnah-press.

“This article sheds light on Christian newspapers in Egypt […]

Christian newspapers in Egypt are old. There are currently 20 licensed publications, 19 of which were licensed prior to the foundation of the Press council. On the other Side, Christian religious newspapers have increased these including those without a license or those with licenses from abroad British and Cypriot, wavering between extremism and moderation.”

  1. Remi Drouin and Ben Connery, “Second report on the ‘Izbat Bushrá incidents,” Arab-West Report, Week 35, Art 3, September 2, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2009/week-45/3-second-report-cizbat-bushra-incidents.

“The AWR team returned to Beni Suef to continue investigations about Izbat Bushrá. Their efforts to visit the village, however, were rebuffed by concerns expressed by the church about disturbing the volatile situation there.

In the eyes of the bishop, ‘Izbat Bushrá is a village of which around 50% of the inhabitants are devout Christians (roughly 65 families). The village has two buildings used for Christian worship, with the problem being these structures can only accommodate a third of the congregation.”

  1. Katia Saqqa, “The National American Coptic Assembly’s call for strikes rejected,” Media Review in Arab West Report, Week 35, Art 29, September 2, 2009. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2009/week-35/29-national-american-coptic-assemblys-call-strikes-rejected.

“A Coptic organization calls on Copts inside Egypt and abroad to stage a strike in memory of Coptic victims in Egypt over the past 28 years. The Coptic Orthodox Church and human rights activists rejected the call and doubted its efficiency to solve Copts’ problems. They also rejected any foreign interference and stressed Egypt’s sovereignty.

The assembly also called on Copts to insist on rejecting what it described as the Egyptian government’s policy of persecution and racial discrimination against Copts. Furthermore the association called for canceling the second article of the Egyptian constitution that stipulates that the Islamic Sharī‘ah is the main source of legislation in Egypt.
Not only that, but the assembly asked for amending the election law in Egypt and called on the president to use his power to assign Copts to governmental posts so that they comprise 25 percent of the total number of employees. Political parties were also called on to urge Copts to join them and the police to have a positive role in bringing back runaway Coptic women to their families so that the church can talk with them and either return them to their families or hand them back to the police. [Reviewer: The press frequently reports that the police have searched for and located missing Coptic young women. Consequent developments then depend on the circumstances of their disappearance, and the girls’ own wishes, on a case by case basis].”

  1. Gerrit Roos, “A Christian in Egypt is not a first class citizen,” Reformatorisch Dagblad in Arab-West Report, Week 51, Art 5, September 12, 2009. http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2008/week-51/5-christian-egypt-not-first-class-citizen.

Ramez Atallah, director of the Egyptian Bible Society in Cairo, says "Stories about persecution often concern Muslims who want to become Christian. Other Christians are at most the victims of discrimination. Of course it is not nice to be a second rank citizen. Christians have no positions in the government, except two ministers appointed by the president. A Christian never gets an honorable mention for being the first in his year at school. Do not forget that over 40 percent of wealth in Egypt is in the hands of Christian businessmen.

We know that as a Christian organization we are protected by the government. But there is always a lot depending on local officials. Much more often than Christians, fundamentalist Muslims in this country end up in jail. For example people from the Muslim Brotherhood who want to take power. For a long time there have been no bomb attacks in this country. That is why the government does not want to let Palestinians in.”
People leave the country. Christians but also Muslims. Statistics do not seem to exist in the land of the pyramids. If there are officials who keep track of this, then they are not available. State secret.
The Coptic Orthodox Bishop Marqus told me in Cairo that around the year 1900 around eighty percent of all Christians in Egypt lived south of Cairo. Today that is around 40 percent. That means that 60 percent of Egyptian Christians live in Cairo and Alexandria. That shows how strong the emigration of Christians from Upper Egypt to Cairo and Alexandria has been. Bishop Marqus thinks there are a maximum of eleven million Christians in Egypt. That is in a population of over eighty million. But according to the French statistician Philippe Fargues that percentage is around 6 percent and that means that in a population of eighty million there are around 4,8 million Christians. The sympathetic bishop agrees with Prince Hassan of Jordan in his aversion of emigration. “It is not good for our countries if the pluralist character of our society gets lost.”
"This emigration has no primarily religious origins,” says the Coptic Catholic Bishop Qultah who, like Marqus, serves in Cairo. “Because more Muslims than Christians leave Egypt. Be careful with persecution stories. People mostly leave for economic reasons. Our country offers no future. Why would they stay? It is true that Christians find it easier to leave because they feel less at home. Because of the fear of persecution and real existing marginalization and discrimination.”
This [marginalization and discrimination] can happen because they belong to the lower social classes and because they are Christian. But many Christians sin when they attribute all [problems] to persecution because of their faith.”
Attalah: "I believe many Egyptians want to emigrate. But probably relatively more Christians than Muslims. I think that in practice about as many Muslims as Christians leave our country.”
Publisher Yacoub underlines that it is not persecution but discrimination and economic motives that are the most important factors encouraging people to leave. He highlights the better educational opportunities that exist abroad. “That too can be a reason for emigration. Apart from that also many Christians convert to Islam in Egypt. It is especially young women who want to get married who become Muslim. Not that many adults [convert]. The Christian church is not growing numerically (CH: Not true, the church grows numerically but declines proportionally). Because a Christian family often has two children. A Muslim family four or five.”
Emigration starts domestically, Bishop Marcos explains. “In Egypt around eighty percent of Christians live under the poverty line. In the south there is a shortage of good education. Thus many people migrate to the north. Once they have arrived there, the better educated who find a job migrate to a better quarter while it is them who are especially needed to serve in churches in poor quarters. It is also easier for them to emigrate to the West.

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