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

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“This article deals with a website maintained by Asyut University. The website was cited as publishing statistics and information which was biased against Copts in the area, and in the university.

[…] it appears someone drew the attention of those in charge of the website that statistics based upon religious categorisation carried a detrimental public image of the university to the entire world; the statistics were withdrawn from the site. In all cases, the data cited had indicated that out of 72344 students enrolled in 2006 with the university 28 per cent were Christian, out of 2011 faculty members 0.75 per cent were Christian, and out of 1494 support staff 2.01 per cent were Christian.”
MN (May 2012): The same article can be found under the following link, but with a different date citation, that is an example of the discrepancy of date cititions mention introductory:


  1. Hānī Labīb, “Copts and parliament with citizenship,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab West Report, Week 26, Art 3, June 27, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-26/3-copts-and-parliament-citizenship.

(Watanī newspaper: “Copts and Parliament: Voices of Glasses”)

“The author reviews a book published by Watanī newspaper on the Coptic participation in the parliament since its establishment.”
Highlights from the book:

  1. “No Copt was elected to parliament from 1924 to 1950.

  2. In 1931, the parliament had 150 members, including 4 elected Copts, while in 1950, there were 319 members, including only 10 Copts.

  3. A total of 27 Copts were elected in 1942, which considered the largest number of Copts to be elected in the parliament, out of the 264-member parliament.

  4. No single Copt was elected in 1957 and 1995.

  5. Several Copts have been elected and appointed in the parliament during President Mubarak’s term. In 1987 six Copts were elected and four were appointed out of the total 458 members.

  6. The 1000-page book highlights several problems within the parliament but it focused on three main issues; the unified lawfor buildingplaces of worship, ignoring sectarian unrest incidents and the personal status law.

  1. Hānī Samīr, “Muslim Brotherhood to nominate large number of Copts in their lists in the next parliamentary elections,” Al-Dustūr in Arab West Report, Week 31, Art 29, July 30, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-31/29-muslim-brotherhood-nominate-large-number-copts-their-lists-next-parliamentary.

“Sa'd al-Husīnī, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood's parliamentary bloc, declared that the MB will include a number of Copts candidates in case of participation in the next parliamentary election.”

  1. Tāriq Hijī, “The Tragedy of Egypt's Copts ...” (1), Watani International in Arab West Report, Week 31, Art 30, August 1, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-31/30-tragedy-egypts-copts.

“In Egypt, the Copts are being denied access to certain high positions, deprived from the freedom to build new churches, and suffering from increasing suffocating fanaticism from all directions. […] There is a widespread feeling among Copts that their participation in public life has gradually dwindled over the last fifty years.  Their sense of marginalization is borne out by the facts like in 1995, when not a single Copt was elected to parliament.”

  1. Tarek Heggy, “The tragedy of Egypt's Copts” (2), Watani International in Arab West Report, Week 32, Art 45, August 8, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-32/45-tragedy-egypts-copts.

“[…] whatever the reason, the fact remains that the Copts are marginalized in Egyptian public life, and this is a situation that merits serious study.”

  1. Mohamed Abdul Sahkour, “Coptic group requests Obama’s support for Gamal Mubarak's presidential campaign,” Al-Aḥrār in Arab West Report, Week 36, Art 16, September 4, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-36/16-coptic-group-requests-obamas-support-gamal-mubaraks-presidential-campaign.

“U.S. based Coptic Group, Together For Egypt, requested United States president Barack Obama support Gamal Mubārak 's right to campaign for presidency in the upcoming elections, and for there to be a Coptic candidate. The group urged Copts in Egypt to negotiate for 25% of seats in parliament, matching what they claim is their percentage of the population.”

  1. Thereza Kamal, “Coptic candidates in Egyptian elections,” Al-Miṣrī al-Yawm in Arab West Report, Week 37, Art 6, September 11, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-37/6-coptic-candidates-egyptian-elections.

“Thirteen Copts are ready to face candidates from the ruling party and the Muslim Brotherhood in the upcoming Parliamentary Elections - a significant increase in numbers compared to 2005's zero candidates. An unnamed source described it as a natural reaction to the ruling party's stress on the importance of Coptic political contribution.”

  1. Dina el-Bawab, “An Egyptian Muslim Woman's Trip to a Coptic Orthodox Monastery,” Arab-West Report, Week 40, Art 37, October 13, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-40/37-egyptian-muslim-womans-trip-coptic-orthodox-monastery.

The article is about the Muslim girl Dina el-Bawab’s visit within the walls of a Christian orthodox monastery... She used to be an intern at the CIDT which gave her this opportunity

“Coptic Orthodox Christians comprise the second largest religious group in Egypt, second only to Sunni Muslims. Copts make up for 6% to 15% of Egypt’s population. Muslims and Christians live together side by side. Aside from religious rituals, they interact with each other in all daily activities.”

  1. Cornelis Hulsman, “AWR Editorial: Intolerant Climate in Egypt and Media Manipulations Result in Row Around Bishop Bīshūy,” Arab-West Report, Week 43, Art 32, October 25, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-43/32-awr-editorial-intolerant-climate-egypt-and-media-manipulations-result-row.

“Egypt’s media climate is poisoned. Recent media debates started with an interview with Bishop Bīshūy, in which he claimed that Muslims are merely guests in Egypt […] the heated debate around Bishop Bīshūy is the sensitivity around conversions from one religion to the other. Conversions in Egypt are primarily a one way track. It is estimated that yearly thousands of Christians convert to Islam, while perhaps tens of Muslims per year become Christian. There are no public records of such conversions and thus numbers given are always estimates. There are closed records of the Egyptian security, but they will certainly not be willing to go public.”

  1. Hanā‘ ‘Alī, “Al-‘Awwā Asks Government not to Publish the Population Census According to Sects,” Al-Dustūr in Arab-West Report, Week 43, Art 42, October 27, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-43/42-al-cawwa-asks-government-not-publish-population-census-according-sects.

Dr. Muhammad Salīm al-‘Awwā said that he would like the government to stop publishing the population census according to sects because he says some people manipulate parts of the data, particularly the number of Copts in Egypt. He also pointed out that Pope Shenouda III said that numbers published by the government are insignificant to him, claiming the number of Copts in Egypt to be fifteen million.

  1. Rafīq Greish, “In fear of Christians disappearing from the Middle East,” Rose al-Yūsuf in Arab-West Report, Week 44, Art 17, October 30, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-44/17-fear-christians-disappearing-middle-east.

Father Rafīq Greish reports from a synod at the Vatican that included discussions about the migration of Copts from the Middle East and the dangers of political Islam.

  1. Ramzī Zaqlamah, “The census ‘fitnah’,”Al-Wafd in Arab-West Report, Week 46, Art 16, November 13, 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-46/16-census-fitnah.

Ramzī Zaqlamah discusses whether determining the specific number of Copts in Egypt is important. He says an accurate number does not exist because Copts tend to over-count and Muslims usually tend to under-count, wrongfully linking population numbers with rights and duties towards the nation. He criticizes the “religion” column in national ID cards for only serving to advance religious discrimination.

  1. Mustafá ‘Ibādah, “Dr. Rif‘at al-Sa‘īd: I refuse the idea of a Coptic quota”, Al-Ahrām al-‘Arabī in Arab West Report, Week 49, Art 4, 3 December 2010. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2010/week-49/4-dr-rifat-al-said-i-refuse-idea-coptic-quota

“Progressive National Unionist Party leader Rif‘at al-Sa‘īd talks about the effect of Western capitalism on the Egyptian left. He also comments on the funding of NGO's who work with issues covered by political parties, such as his. He says that these NGO's tend to deal with the issues in their own Western way, which he alleges is incompatible with Egyptians most the time. When asked about a proposed Coptic parliamentary quota, Sa‘īd said that he is firmly against it, arguing that a quota implies that Copts are a separate entity.”

  1. Diana Ghali, “Cardinal Najīb: Politicizing Religion is not Acceptable,” Al-Wafd in Arab West Report, Week 1, Art 22, January 1, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-1/22-cardinal-najib-politicizing-religion-not-acceptable.

“Cardinal Antonius Najīb, Coptic Catholic Patriarch of Alexandria, talks in this interview with al-Wafd about various current issues facing Egypt.

Dealing with the recent and upcoming elections in Egypt, the Cardinal claims that the majority Muslim population would never vote for a minority Coptic candidate. "Logically, they will vote for the majority. Appointing a fixed parliamentary quota could be a solution,” he said.

Cardinal Najīb is also looking forward to the implementation of a unified law for building places of worship. Further, he believes that politicizing religion and relying on religious rule is unacceptable, whether in Egypt or internationally.”

  1. Ashraf ‘Abd al-Ghafur, “Interview with Coptic Bishop Bīsantī,” Al-Jumhūrīyah in Arab West Report, Week 4, Art 9, January 26, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-4/48-interview-coptic-bishop-bisanti.

“Al-Jumhūrīyah on Wednesday interviewed Bishop Bīsantī of Helwan and al-Ma‘ṣarah.

The interviewer then asked if the bishop supported a quota for Copts in parliament, to which he responded: “Has the [women’s] quota devalued women’s worth in Egypt?” and when the interviewer pointed out that Pope Shenouda had opposed the quota he said: “he did but owing to the situation currently existing he said there was ‘no solution’ except the quota or voting by the list system.”


Regarding his support or otherwise for cancellation of the entry for religion on identity cards, Bīsantī said he supports this “because I am a citizen, let my religion be what I wish [it to be], as long as I am honest and loyal to my country and my countrymen.””

  1. Jayson Casper, “A Christian Face to the Protests,” Arab-West Report, Week 6, Art 13, February 8, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-6-week-glory/13-christian-face-protests.

“This text was not composed based on first-hand experience, although the author was able to personally witness two days of previous demonstrations. Rather, it is compiled based on nearly eighteen minutes of footage posted on YouTube by the Coptic website Yar3any.com, and an additional two and a half minutes posted by BBC Arabic. It is also bolstered by the first-hand account of Dr. Amin Makram Ebeid, a board member of the Center for Arab West Understanding, which cooperates with Arab West Report.

The Coptic Orthodox Church represents the vast majority of Christians in Egypt, who represent around 6% of the overall population. Since sectarian troubles began plaguing Copts in the 1970s, Pope Shenouda has taken a leadership role in speaking on behalf of the Christian community, seeking to secure its political rights and its protection against extremist Muslim elements. Though the relationship has been wobbly, Pope Shenouda has largely succeeded in crafting a positive political stance vis-à-vis the government of President Mubarak.
[…] when Christians represent less than 6% of the population, insistence on doctrinal divisions takes on less importance. They will not deny the specifics of their peculiar creed, but they will also not shy away from cross-participation in different congregations, and especially not from warm individual relationships of respect. A Christian, they believe, is a Christian.”


  1. Jayson Casper, “Egyptian Demonstrations and the Muslim Brotherhood,” Arab-West Report, Week 6, Art 18, February 10, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-6-week-glory/18-egyptian-demonstrations-and-muslim-brotherhood.

The author comments on the Egyptian protests in 2011 and their huge media coverage:

“Egypt is more than 90% Muslim; the Muslims took over a long time ago. What is intended, of course, is the worry that a specifically Muslim government would employ sharia law and take away rights recognized in the Western world as universal, and assumed to be antithetical to Islamic law.
[…] in the context of a greater than 90% Muslim population, the vast majority of those protesting have been Muslim. The key question is what kind of Muslims are they? Before considering this question, however, it is useful to take note that not all protestors have been Muslims. Among their number have been thousands of Egyptian Christians.”

  1. Cornelis Hulsman, “Experiences of a Dutch/Belgian delegation in Egypt prior to the resignation of President Mubarak (1),” Arab-West Report, Week 6, Art 7, February 11, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-6-week-glory/7-experiences-dutchbelgian-delegation-egypt-prior-resignation-president.

This report focuses on discussions on Muslim-Christian dialogue as well as the tensions that developed rapidly during the days the author and a Dutch/Belgian group, which were visiting Egypt to see the route of the Holy Family, were traveling around.

“Rev. Atallah is Presbyterian and explained there are some 1200 protestant churches in Egypt of which 50% are belonging to his denomination.
Andreu Claret, Executive Director of the Anna Lindh Foundation (ALF), Gianluca Solera, international network coordinator and Inge Sidky of the Foundation, stated that 40% of Egypt’s population lives on less than 2 US$ per day. With increasing food and other prices these people certainly have a miserable life. Many of the demonstrators of the previous day must have been in that category. Others said 80% lives on not much more then 2 US$ per day.”
CH (May 2012): This is close to the earlier estimate provided by Dr. Farid Fadel on the 80% living on not much more then 2 US$ per day or less then 2 US$ per day.

  1. Margaret Coffey, “Protest and Religion Egypt - Perspectives on the Revolution,” Arab-West Report, Week 9, Art 21, February 27, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-9/21-protest-and-religion-egypt-perspectives-revolution.

Transcript of interview by Margaret Coffey of Encounter, a program of ABC radio, Australia on Egypt’s minority Christians.

“The Christian population of Egypt numbers about ten per cent - but eighty per cent of Egyptian emigrants are Christian, and Australia is home to 80,000 Coptic Christians from Egypt.” The Christian proportion of the Egyptian population is disputed. Ten per cent is the commonly quoted figure, including by the US Department of State.

  1. Cornelis Hulsman, “Egypt's Christians After Mubarak,” Christianity Today in Arab West Report, Week 9, Art 18, March 5, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-9/18-egypts-christians-after-mubarak.

“There is much to make Christians in Egypt anxious about their relationship with Muslims. […] today's resignation of President Hosni Mubarak signals changes that may make Christians' presence more precarious. It's no wonder that the country's Christian minority is praying for peace more fervently than ever.

Many Christian leaders believe that the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamic political group banned in Egypt, will grow in political power with Mubarak's ouster. The brotherhood maintains strong support among some Egyptians. Religious-freedom analysts believe the leaders of the brotherhood, famous for the slogan "Islam is the solution," could very well usher in repression of all minority religious groups. Christians are Egypt's largest minority, representing 6 to 10 percent of Egypt's 85 million people. About 90 percent of all Christians in Egypt are Orthodox.


Egypt hosts a small but influential population of Protestants and evangelicals (more than 250,000), mostly located in Cairo and other major cities. Most are either Presbyterian, Methodist, or Anglican, and many congregations are linked to the Evangelical Fellowship of Egypt. In addition to churches, dozens of ministries and agencies maintain sizable operations in Egypt. SAT-7, the Arabic-language Christian satellite broadcast channel, has 65 employees at its offices in Cairo.

The 40 percent of Egyptians who live below the poverty line are a key factor in driving discontent, especially among undereducated, jobless youth.
Outside poor, urban areas, the problems for rural Christians are just as worrisome. A century ago, 80 percent of all Egyptian Christians lived in rural Upper Egypt. Today the figure stands at 40 percent, at best.”

  1. Cornelis Hulsman, “Interesting political developments in Egypt,” Arab-West Report, March 7, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-10/16-interesting-political-developments-egypt.

Comments from a senior Egyptian diplomat who wanted to remain anonymous. I have added to this my own statistics from the 2006 census and link to a blog.

The motor against the revolution or revolt were the youth. It is therefore important to give some figures from the 2006 census: 


Total number

% Of population

< 20












> 75






MN (May 2012): Data layout in the table has been modified due to the sake of readability. The original can be found on AWR, by following the link in the citation above.
Rather unexpectedly, unemployment among Egypt’s youth generally rises with educational level. This phenomenon is contrary to what is experienced in most Western nations where those with a higher level of education generally have a lower rate of unemployment. When one sees employment statistics like these, it is no wonder that there is a sense of anger and hopelessness among young Egyptians. I wonder how Western youth, most particularly those who have invested in post-secondary education, would behave toward those who are in control of our governments if their economic futures were as bleak.




It is no wonder that many of these youth feel they had little to no chances to develop themselves. The general public sympathized with them. They all shared one word, ‘suffering’ or ‘pain.’ The old regime refused to listen to clear indications of pain and suffering and they paid for this. These indicators should have served as warning signals but they were neglected. Many youth are elated about their achievements. No one on January 25 would have dared to think that people and government would listen to them. No one would have imagined the changes that have happened in the past weeks. 

How many Egyptians supported the revolution? Six to ten million at most. 43% of the population of 80 million is below 18 years old. People of 60+ make up around 6 percent of population. Most of them were not involved in revolutionary actions. 6 to 8 million Egyptians live abroad. 1,5 million now return from Libya. Many of those would be supportive of the revolution. This means that perhaps 20 to 30 percent of the population that could have been politically active participated in the revolution. Other Egyptians want stability, work and income. There is an anti-revolutionary movement, but they try to oppress them before they start talking. On February 28 some 500,000 people had gathered at the Mustafa Mahmoud mosque in Mohandesseen. They were people who do not want demonstrations at Tahrir Square to continue. They were asking for stability. They wanted to go to Tahrir, but the army did not allow them to go there.
Statistics of Copts in Egypt
The Egyptian census of 2006 did not release the number of Christians in Egypt, unlike previous censuses. The diplomat responded “The president wanted to avoid the irritation of the church and thus believed it would be better not to mention the number of Christians at all. Of course the State Security has the figures. They have access to the registration registers. The number of Christians is one of the taboos in Egypt.”

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