Jabrā'īl noted that if the migration of Copts went on this way, the figures might by up to nearly 250,000 by the end of 2011 and even could increase to include one-third of Egyptian Christians in ten years' time, which would normally menace the demographic composition and economy of Egypt.
The EUHRO has obtained some rates about Egypt's migration abroad based information from Coptic assemblies and churches outside Egypt:
About 20,000 all over Europe, namely in the Netherlands, Italy, England, Austria, Germany and France.
Copts make 16% of the overall population in Egypt. However, if this drain continued this way, the rate would be down to 10% or even less, a matter that could cause imbalance in the demographic composition in Egypt and consequently pose a hazard to the Egyptian economy, of which Copts represent a key mainstay.”
Emad Khalil, “NGO report: 93,000 Copts left Egypt since March,” Egypt Independent, September 26, 2011. URL: http://www.egyptindependent.com/node/499187.
Nearly 93,000 Coptic Christians have left Egypt since 19 March 2011. The number may increase to 250,000 by the end of 2011, according to Naguib Gabriel, the head of the Egyptian Federation of Human Rights, which released the report.
Numayrī Shūmān and Rāmī Rushdī, “5 million Coptic votes crucial in coming elections,” Al-Fajr in Arab West Report, Week 39, Art 14, September 26, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-39/14-5-million-coptic-votes-crucial-coming-elections.
“Najīb Jabrā’īl, Coptic activist and legal advisor, said Copts' participation in the forthcoming elections would not go beyond 1% or 1.5%, the same rate of participation for 20 years.
Mamdūh Ramzī, the assistant leader of the Reform and Development Party, who also runs on the party's lists in the coming People's Assembly elections, said that the Copts will never see success except under the proportional representation system. "Christians make 20% of Egyptians with a population of 19-20 million. Sixty-nine percent of them, about 7.6 million, are eligible voters, which form a good voting bloc but they are not effective in the end," said Ramzī.”
Author Not Mentioned, “Pope Shenouda rejects foreign intervention in Egyptian affairs,” Press Review in Arab West Report, Week 39, Art 22, September 26, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-39/22-pope-shenouda-rejects-foreign-intervention-egyptian-affairs.
“A report by an Egypt-based Coptic NGO this week claimed that nearly 93,000 Copts have left Egypt since 19 March. The number may increase to 250,000 by the end of 2011, according to Naguib Gabriel, the head of the Egyptian Federation of Human Rights, which released the report.
Meanwhile, the three major Christian churches in Egypt denied the authenticity of Gabriel’s report. A senior Coptic Church official said there are no accurate statistics about the number of Copts who have emigrated from Egypt.”
MN (May 2012): The article which has been translated is taken from al-Misri al-Yawm English website, who took it from the Middle East News Agency (MENA). Because of this it has no author on al-Misri al-Yawm.
Cornelis Hulsman, “Christians leaving the Middle East; Robert Fisk too optimistic in presenting numbers and proportions,” Arab-West Report, Week 39, Art 42, September 27, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-39/42-christians-leaving-middle-east-robert-fisk-too-optimistic-presenting-numbers.
Analysis of inflated figures that Robert Fisk of The Independent publishes on the percentages of Christians in the Middle East. He lists Egyptian Christians at 10%, for example, a figure which is actually closer to 5.5%. A table is presented that is based on research of Dr. Philippe Fargues showing the proportion of Christians in all countries in the Middle East since 1894. The table shows a decline starting with the First World War.
Mary Abdelmassih, “100,000 Christians Have Left Egypt Since March: Report,” Assyrian International NewsAgency (AINA), September 27, 2011. URL: http://www.aina.org/news/20110926194822.htm.
The Egyptian Union of Human Rights Organizations (EUHRO) published a report today on emigration of Christians from Egypt, saying that nearly 100,000 Christians have emigrated since March 2011.
Jayson Casper, “Burning the Dome: AWR Investigates Sectarian Violence in Edfu,” Arab West Report, Week 40, Art 11, October 2, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/11-burning-church-dome-awr-investigations-edfu.
“On Friday, September 30, 2011 a structure purported to be a church was attacked and destroyed in the village of Mari-Nab, near Idfū, in the governorate of Aswan.
Mari-Nab is a large village with a population of over 50,000, but with a very small Christian presence. Muslim testimony estimated no more than 30 Christians in the whole village, while Christian testimony varied from between 30-50 families. Testimony from security personnel estimated 70 Christian people.
Following Friday prayers Muslim youths descended on the church and began to destroy the domes. Christian testimony puts their number at around 3000, while security estimated around 1000 youths.”
CH (May 2012): This article shows how numbers even on a local scale on village level are disagreed upon and varies significantly. The reasons are arguments whether Copts in the village should be entitled to a larger church or not.
Majdī Fikrī, “NGO Director: I called for parliamentary quota for Copts,” Al-Dustūr in Arab West Report, Week 40, Art 52, October 6, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-40/52-ngo-director-i-called-parliamentary-quota-copts.
“Dr. Sa‘d al-Dīn Ibrāhīm, the director of Ibn Khaldoun Center, emphasized that he asked for a parliamentary quota, ranging between 15 percent and 20 percent for Copts. “Pope Shenouda stood against the idea and told me ‘We are not a minority and we do not need a quota for Copts,’ Ibrāhīm added.”
Cornelis Hulsman, “Commenting on Al-Ahram Weekly’s ‘Trigger for Copts' Anger: El-Marinab Church as a Model’,” Arab-West Report, Week 41, Art 25, October 11, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-41/25-commenting-al-ahram-weeklys-trigger-copts-anger-el-marinab-church-model.
“Individuals claiming to represent the Muslims of El-Marinab said they objected to building a church in the village because they claimed that the numbers of Copts in the village of 18,000 Muslims was only 75, and asserted that such a small presence did not warrant the construction of any churches.”
“Copts countered that the church has been in the village for decades, and showed documents and licenses proving that it has been recognized as a Christian house of worship by the government, and all villagers, since it was built in 1949. Furthermore, Copts asserted that 250 of them lived in the village, and not 75 as the extremists claimed.”
Dīnā Darwīsh, “Copts: Migration is sometimes coercive,” Al-Shurūq al-Jadīd in Arab-West Report, Week 41, Art 29, October 12, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-41/29-copts-migration-sometimes-coercive.
The claims of the Egyptian Union for Human Rights Organization about the 100,000 Copts having migrated since March 19, 2011, are disputed by Kamāl Zākhir and others (names not mentioned), The author states that the Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelic churches have rejected the report, stating that there is no accurate statistics of the migration of Copts. Egyptian authorities take a neutral position in confirming or rejecting the information of the report. Many Copts state that they fear for the future of Egypt and their political status, especially after the expansion of the extremist Islamic currents. In general, those who seek migration are escaping tension and the state of insecurity befalling the country.
Hānī Labīb, “(The Game of Numbers) regarding the number of Copts and their Churches,” Arab-West Report, Week 42, Art 36, October 20, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-42/36-game-numbers-regarding-number-copts-and-their-churches.
Provides statistics on number of Christians in Egypt since 1966. The debate on the number of statistics is related to that of the construction of churches “and whether there is a need for more to be built. This is the main problem that caused sectarian tensions and crises during the last ten years.”
Muhammad al-Bāz, “Copts are 20 million, says civil registry official,” Al-Fajr in Arab-West Report, Week 43, Art 12, October 20-24, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-43/12-copts-are-20-million-says-civil-registry-official.
Copts in Egypt, according to a Civil Registry Department official citing birth certificates and National ID cards, are 20 million. According to al-al-Bāz “Copts tend to exaggerate saying that they are between 10-15 million, a figure contested by Muslim extremists who put it at only 3-5 million.” But, real figures are higher than what Copts claim al-al-Bāz claims.
Author Not Mentioned. “EP ‘Joint Motion for Resolution’ condemns violence against Copts,” Arab-West Report, Week 43, Art 60, October 25, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-43/60-ep-joint-motion-resolution-condemns-violence-against-copts.
“The European Parliament (EP) issued the "Joint Motion for Resolution" document that condemns the attack on Coptic protesters in Maspero incidents on October 9, 2011 along with EP condemnation for other violent acts against Christian communities in the Arab world.
4. Calls on the Egyptian authorities to ensure full respect for all fundamental rights, including freedom of association, freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of religion, conscience and thought for all citizens in Egypt, including the Coptic Christians, and that Coptic Christian communities do not fall victim to violent attacks and can live in peace and freely express their beliefs throughout the country; calls for the adequate protection of the churches in order to put an end to the continuous aggression and destruction of churches by Islamic extremists; welcomes continued efforts to adopt a ‘Common Code for building places of worship’; stresses that the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion is a fundamental right guaranteed by legal instruments; urges the Egyptian authorities to end discrimination against Coptic Christians, for example by deleting references to religion from all official documents, and to ensure equal dignity and equal opportunities for all citizens in Egypt to have access to all public and political posts, including representation in the armed forces, in Parliament and in Government; […].
Shirīf al-Shubāshī, “Those who want to see Egypt without Copts,” Al-Ahrām in Arab-West Report, Week 43, Art 34, October 26, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-43/34-those-who-want-see-egypt-without-copts.
The author describes the report of Naguib Gabriel as an “alarm bell.” It reveals “that the mass migration of Copts has already begun.” The author believes that there are ill-hearted people who would like to see Egypt without Coptic Christians without mentioning names of such people or groups. “I would like to emphasize that there will be no real democracy in Egypt unless Copts get all their full rights as first-class citizens. Egypt will not see stability unless Christians and Muslim became tritely equal.”
CH (May 2012): This is an opinion article that appears to be written by an opponent of Islamists.
Muhammad 'Abd al-Qādir, Mahmūd Ramzī, and Muhammad Gharīb, “Coptic candidates...A new bet on parties' lists,” Al-Miṣrī al-Yawm in Arab West Report, Week 43, Art 55, October 28, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-43/55-coptic-candidatesa-new-bet-parties-lists.
“[…] the Democratic alliance list only included three Copts from all governorates. They will represent al-Sāhil constituency and Shubrā, the largest Coptic community.
As for al-Wafd Party, it included 23 Copts in its lists.”
Nada Hussein Rashwan, “Egypt Pope orders first post-revolution count of Christian population,” Al-Ahram Online, October 31, 2011. URL: http://english.ahram.org.eg/~/NewsContent/1/64/25627/Egypt/Politics-/Egypt-Pope-orders-first-postrevolution-count-of-Ch.aspx.
A census to be conducted by the Coptic Church will be its first to tally Christians from all denominations in Egypt to counter official attempts at under-counting Egypt's largest religious minority. Information forms will be distributed and collected by dioceses across the country and submitted to provincial bishoprics. Results will then be compiled and submitted directly to the Pope. An unofficial census, conducted by a number of Christian organisations in cooperation with the Church, published figures on Sunday showing the entire Christian population of Egypt neared 17 million, around 20 per cent of the population. The latest government estimates of the Egyptian Christian population stated they made up around 4 per cent (around 3.3 million) of the total population of around 83 million. This figure was refuted by Pope Shenouda III in 2008, who said the Coptic Orthodox population on its own made up around 12 million. This article was criticized by Cornelis Hulsman in Arab-West Report, 2011, Week 44, Art 29.
Cornelis Hulsman, “Lack of transparency causes debate on Coptic population statistics,” Arab-West Report, Week 44, Art 29, November 1, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-44/29-lack-transparency-causes-debate-coptic-population-statistics.
Hulsman critiques the articles of Muhammad al-Baz Nada Hussein Rashwan since the claims they registered about the number of Christians in Egypt conflicts with that of research of Dr. Philippe Fargues, statements of bishops showing the church lacks the apparatus to do systematic population research and CAPMAS population expert Dr. Jamāl Hāshim who stated that the proportion of Christians in Egypt is declining which is primarily due to Christians having smaller families.
Cornelis Hulsman, “Does the Shari’a prohibit building churches?” Arab-West Report, Week 44, Art 39, November 4, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-44/39-does-sharia-prohibit-building-churches.
Dutch Arabist Hans Jansen argues that Copts are killed when they violate Shari’a.
“Not all Muslims always want to kill when Christians violate the rules of the Shari’a, but the number that is willing to use deadly violence was, in October 2011, also large enough to create tens of Coptic martyrs.”
“Jansen does not explain who these “Shari’a fundamentalists” are but no doubt his reference is to a limited number of people who interpret the Shari’a in a way that is very restrictive to Christians. Who are these people? And how representative are they for Muslims in modern Egypt? Jansen admits in his article that their numbers do not need to be large. “The argument is not about precise figures and the amount of support they are able to generate in Egypt. The argument is that this is a group that knows how to obtain what it wants which is costing the lives of others,” he writes!
Cornelis Hulsman, “Political misuse of Christian suffering in Egypt; blaming Muslims in general for the acts of thugs and extremists is unjust!” Arab-West Report, Week 44, Art 40, November 4, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-44/40-political-misuse-christian-suffering-egypt-blaming-muslims-general-acts-thugs.
Hulsman provides critique on a text of the PVV spokesman for Foreign Affairs, Raymond de Roon, MP for the party of Geert Wilders, published on October 11, 2011. De Roon refers to Naguib Gabriel of The Egyptian Union of Human Rights Organizations (EUHRO) who states that Egyptian Christians make up “nearly 16% of the Egyptian population,” and that if emigration continues “at the present rate, it may reach 250,000 by the end of 2011".
'Imād Khalīl, “Copts angry … Papal Residence prevents propaganda in churches,” Al-Miṣrī al-Yawm in Arab West Report, Week 45, Art 2, November 5, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-45/2-copts-angry-papal-residence-prevents-propaganda-churches.
“A state of anger prevailed among Copts due the few Coptic candidates on parties’ slates, although there are big parties founded by Copts. However, the total number of candidates does not exceed 120 candidates.”
“Michael Munīr, the president of al-Hayāh party, said that the Coptic representation is not enough, expecting that number of successful candidates in parliamentary elections amounts to 15 candidates.”
Shirīf al-Shubāshī, “Those who doubt the Coptic loyalty,” Al-Ahrām in Arab West Report, Week 45, Art 11, November 9, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-45/11-those-who-doubt-coptic-loyalty.
The author “wonders about the number of Coptic spies or traitors in the history of modern Egypt? He, then, claims that they are less than 10 percent which also represents their numerical percentage in the Egyptian society. Hence, if the theory of ratio and proportionality is taken into account, there will be no place for the claim that the Copts tend to the West and are more likely to disloyalty.”
'Imād Habīb, “70 Copts to face MB, salafists in elections,” Al-Muṣawwar in Arab West Report, Week 45, Art 28, November 9, 2011, http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-45/28-70-copts-face-mb-salafists-elections.
“A total of 70 Copts nationwide have decided to run in the forthcoming presidential elections, a figure almost the same as those who used to run in elections during the past 30 years.”
“However, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party (ESDP) was the one that named the largest number of Coptic candidates, up to 20, including Dr. 'Imād Jād, an expert at the Al-Ahrām Center for Political and Strategic Studies.
The North Cairo constituency is witnessing a cut-throat competition among Coptic candidates, particularly after Rāmī Lakah and Amīn Iskandar from al-Karāmah Party decided to run there to confront Hāzim Fārūq, the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB)'s Freedom and Justice Party and a former People's Assembly member, and Mamdūh Ismā'īl, a lawyer and deputy leader of the salafi al-Asālah (Authenticity) Party.
George Ishaq will run in the elections for the first time in Port Said against MB candidate Akram al-Shā'ir.”
‘Amr al-Misri, “Senator Sam Brownback spearheads anti-Egypt campaign of hatred, Meunir continues fanning sectarian flame,” Media Review in Arab West Report, Week 46, Art 41, November 9, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2005/week-46/41-senator-sam-brownback-spearheads-anti-egypt-campaign-hatred-meunir-continues.
“Meunir claims to speak on behalf of 700,000 Copts in the United States although recent official statistics assert that there are less than 150,000 Americans of Egyptian origin. He urged the Egyptian government to make the Coptic language, along with Arabic, an official language of the state and to end discrimination against Copts in the army and police.”
Ahmad al-Bihayrī and 'Imād Khalīl, “Members of the “Family House” and the 3 Churches welcome draft law on houses of worship and demand speedy issuance,” Press Review in Arab West Report, Week 45, Art 25, November 11, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-45/25-members-family-house-and-3-churches-welcome-draft-law-houses-worship-and-demand.
“A number of the Azhar Scholars, members of the ‘Egyptian Family House’ and the three Egyptian churches welcomed the draft law on building houses of worship.”
“Rev. Dr. Andrea Zakī, deputy of the head of the Evangelical denomination, confirmed his approval for what appeared in the draft and called its speedy issuance. According to him, it will solve more than 50 percent of the sectarian problems and will put an end to the major problem facing the Copts in Egypt.”
Cornelis Hulsman, “Egyptian Election Procedures Could Benefit Copts,” Arab-West Report, Week 46, Art 29, November 19, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-46/29-egyptian-election-procedures-could-benefit-copts.
On November 28, the first round of the elections for Egypt's parliament (the People's Assembly or Majlis Al-Sha'b), start in Egypt. The Egyptian parliament will consist of 498 members. Of these, a third of the seats (166 members) are elected by absolute majority vote in their own electoral district through a two-round system to serve 5-year terms. Every district contains two seats and electors are given two votes. At least one seat in each district is reserved for a worker or farmer. Two-thirds of the seats in Parliament (332 members) are elected through a closed-list proportional representation system in each of the 46 districts, which are divided within Egypt’s 27 governorates. Since in the past there were practically no districts with a Coptic majority, Copts only stood a chance at being elected if they were supported by a good share of the Muslim electorate. In the new proportional system, Copts in governorates with a substantial Coptic minority, such as the governorate of Minia, which according to CAPMAS had a Coptic population of about 20 percent in 1996, will have much better chances to get elected.
Jayson Casper, “Early Election Observations in Egypt,” Arab-West Report, Week 48, Art 25, November 28, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-48/25-early-election-observations-egypt.
The author gives his estimate (percentage of the people present) on how the religion affected the way the Egyptians voted at the 2011 election following the January revolution earlier that year.
“Second, given that in Egypt one’s religion can be outwardly identifiable, I can make some very rudimentary and cautious exit poll guesses. In the men’s line, about 20% of the people wore long robes, had heavy beards, or prominent prayer calluses on their foreheads. These are often signs of being a conservative Muslim, particularly of the Salafī trend. A beard and robe can be worn by any Muslim, of course, many of whom do not support political Islam. Many Brotherhood supporters, meanwhile, do not necessarily have distinctive dress, and many ordinary non-Islamist Egyptians may vote for the Freedom and Justice Party, given their longstanding role as an opposition party and the relative newness of other liberal entities.
As for the women, perhaps around 30% of those in line were non-veiled. This indicates in general that there are Coptic, or else Muslims willing to resist the cultural pressures to wear a head covering. This segment of society would be unlikely to vote Islamist, though some may. To note, only about 10% or less of the population is Coptic, and though I have no official estimates, non-veiled Muslim women appear to be a similar minority. On the other hand, wearing a veil is no necessary indicator of political affiliation. I saw only a handful of women wearing the niqāb, which covers all but the slit over the eyes. This could be reflective of conservative tendency, but as in all the above deductions, caution is needed above all.”
MN (May 2012): It has to be stressed that these estimates made in this article are solely based on the author’s own presumptions and impressions as well as the knowledge he has about religion in the Egyptian society, hence NOT an empirical study.
Jayson Casper, “Coptic Preparations for Elections, in Tanta,” Arab-West Report, Week 48, Art 26, November 30, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-48/26-coptic-preparations-elections-tanta.
“From before the revolution, many Copts have realized their community suffers from a dearth of political and civic participation. Copts are commonly constituted as 10% of the population. They may be as low as 5-6%, and one partisan estimate tallied them as high as 20%. Regardless, if all mobilized they would have much electoral sway.”
Rajab Ramadān, “70% of Alexandria Copts cast their votes in election,” Al-Miṣrī al-Yawm in Arab West Report, Week 48, Art 16, December 1, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-48/16-70-alexandria-copts-cast-their-votes-election.
“The Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria estimated the Copts' participation in Egypt's first parliamentary elections after the January 25 revolution at more than 70% of the total Coptic population, terming the figure as "unprecedented in the history of the church".
The Egyptian center for development and human rights studies indicated in a statement that the number of voters in Alexandria 324,238 who cast their ballots in 3,349 polling sub-units (Reviewer's note: The article did not say if this number refers to all population in Alexandria or it is just the number of Copts in the city).”
“Results of the first round of Egypt's first post-Mubārak parliamentary elections, as announced by the High Judicial Elections Commission (HJEC) showed progress by the Democratic Alliance for Egypt, in which the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) obtained 40% of the votes, followed by the Salafī al-Nūr Party 25%, the liberal Egyptian Bloc 15%, al-Wafd 11%, al-Wasat (Centrist) 6% and the al-'Adl (Justice) with a paltry 1%.”
The total number of eligible voters in the first round hit 13.614.625 million, 62% against 38% who did not cast their votes, considered the highest turnout ever in Egypt. (Al-Ahrām, December 4, 2011). The first round has seen a massive turnout by Egyptian Christian citizens, coinciding with the emergence of political Islam groups that expressed strict positions against Copts in many of their TV appearances.”
Muhammad Ibrāhīm Al-Disūqī, “Christian migration,” Al-Ahrām in Arab-West Report, Week 49, Art 20, December 7, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-49/20-christian-migration.
36,000 Coptic emigrants settled in the US since March 2011. Archpriest Salīb Mattá of Saint George Church of Shubrā said another 10,000 Christians indicated they want to emigrate. Reasons are fear for the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis coming to power.
Diana Maher Ghali, “AWR Daily Overview, December 25, 2011: Scenarios for easing tension between revolution and SCAF,” Press Review in Arab West Report, Week 52, Art 13, December 25, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-52/13-awr-daily-overview-december-25-2011-scenarios-easing-tension-between-revolution (Sahar Dīyā' al-Dīn, al-Wafd, Dec. 25, p.4).
“[…] an official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied figures about the number of Coptic migrants because of religious persecution after the revolution. Media reports had noted that the Ministry had the number of 45,000 Copts migrated because of religious discrimination in Egypt. (Sahar Dīyā' al-Dīn, al-Wafd, Dec. 25, p.4)”
'Amr Al-Misrī, “AWR Daily Overview, December 29, 2011: Christians are 5% of Egypt's population, says CAPMAS chief,” Al-Ahrām in Arab-West Report, Week 52, Art 43, December 29, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2011/week-52/43-awr-daily-overview-december-29-2011-christians-are-5-egypts-population-says.
“Copts are making about 5% of an Egyptian population of 81 million, which is growing by 4500 souls daily, said AbūBakr al-Jindī, the president of the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).” He repeated statements also made in earlier interviews that religion concerns the private relation between a man and God. “The question about religion during the census and surveys is an optional one that is answered by some and refused by others, noting the spaces left for religion questions include Muslim, Christian, Jew and others. ‘It is not my business if this or that is Shiite, Salafist or other.’”
"Christians are more inclined to migrate. Their scientific and economic conditions are mostly high and consequently have less children (compared to Muslims) and that is why their rate in the society is down 0.1% or 0.2% in each census. This should explain why their rate reached 5.7% in 1986, and accordingly they are now about 5% of the total population in Egypt," said the CAPMAS chief.
Cornelis Hulsman, “Christian leader: No fear for Islamist landslide in Egypt,” Arab-West Report, Week 1, Art 22, January 1, 2012. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2012/week-1/22-christian-leader-no-fear-islamist-landslide-egypt.
Interview with Yūsuf Sīdhum of Watanī International containing a section on “Christian Figures in Egypt”. Lawyer Najīb Jubrā'īl presented a press release stating that some 100,000 Christians have left Egypt since the Revolution. Sīdhum: “Najīb Jubrā'īl is not telling the truth. Many foreign media outlets have called me about this. I wonder—how is it possible that people accept such a text that does not mention its sources? We at Watanī have tried to investigate this. We went to all major embassies and asked them for migration figures of 2010 and 2011 in order to make comparisons. The US has a quota system for countries (CH: through the so-called lottery system) and has allotted 50,000 spots per year to Egyptians. The Embassy told me this goal of 50,000 per year from Egypt has not yet been achieved. This is the most important immigration country. Say 50 percent of these 50,000 migrants would be Christian. That would make 25,000 Christians migrants. Canada and Australia fall far short of US numbers. The number of migrants that went to Holland, the UK, France, and Germany cannot be more than a few hundred people. Thus when we calculate this we cannot possibly reach the number that Najīb Jubrā'īl has given.”
The total number of Christians in Egypt is not important to Sidhom. “I do not want to go into side discussions about numbers. We should focus on citizenship rights. I do not want to link building a church to the number of Christians as people often do. I want the freedom to build.
The media can make a huge commotion about the kidnapping of one girl. If that happens, it must be addressed and I do not need to claim that there are 60,000 such cases as the people who argue about numbers claim. The problem is that there are no figures. The church says it has an internal registration system. They may have records but I don’t know of them. The state security never accepted that the church would make a church count. They know the figures through the computerized identity cards that mention one’s religion. I personally believe the proportion of Christians to be around 10 percent. Muslim Brothers speak of 5 percent, but that is just rhetoric—they don’t reveal any sources. We are not Nigeria (around 50 percent Muslims and 50 percent Christians); we are not Lebanon (divided along religious lines). Our only hope is that Christians can be integrated in the Egyptian political arena.”
Jaber Al-Qarmuti, “Dr. Tharwat Bāsīlī makes shocking remarks: Copts in Egypt are 18.5 million,” Al-Ahram al-Arabi, January 7, 2012.
Tharwat Bāsīlī has declined to reveal his sources about that figure but says it is definitely right. The translation was placed here: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2012/week-3/4-awr-daily-overview-january-15-2012-accurate-figure-census-copts-18565484-million.
'Amr al-Misrī, “AWR Daily Overview, January 14, 2012: Sawirus' anti-Islam cartoons trial starts,” Press Review in Arab West Report, Week 2, Art 38, January 14, 2012. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2012/week-2/38-awr-daily-overview-january-14-2012-sawirus-anti-islam-cartoons-trial-starts.
According to Hulsman, the issue of the number of Copts in Egypt represented a big problem because there are always differences between the numbers announced – or not announced – by the government, the church or the Egyptian public. "I have thought about this issue for years, and in 1986 I visited all the bishoprics in Upper Egypt and asked the bishops about the number of Copts. According to what I obtained, the number amounted to some eight per cent of the population, but they were the Orthodox people alone. Whereas the number claimed by the Copts, especially outside Egypt, is around 15 per cent. This is confusing because of the wide discrepancy," Hulsman said in an interview with Watanī newspaper, published January 14 (Robeir al-Fāris, Watanī, Jan. 14, p. 1). Read full text of interview.
Robeir Al-Fāris, “The number that brings on a headache,” Watani International in Arab-West Report, Week 3, Art 23, January 14, 2012. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2012/week-3/23-number-brings-headache.
Interview with Watani International about Cornelis Hulsman’s work in Egypt, specifically his work on Coptic migration statistics.
'Amr Al-Misrī, “AWR Daily Overview, January 15, 2012: Accurate Figure – Census of Copts is 18.565.484 million,”Al-Ahram in Arab-West Report, Week 3, Art 4, January 15, 2012. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2012/week-3/4-awr-daily-overview-january-15-2012-accurate-figure-census-copts-18565484-million.
“Under the title Documented, Accurate Figure – Census of Copts is 18.565.484 million, Mājid 'Attīyah writes in a column in Watanī newspaper of January 15 that Dr. Tharwat Basīlī has said he has a documented, accurate figure of the Coptic population in Egypt and that he challenges anyone who would want to prove it is wrong” (Opinion and vision: accurate and documented figure, Mājid 'Attīyah, Watanī, Jan. 15, p. 4).
Three years ago (2009?) during a press conference, Maj. General Abū Bakr al-Jindī, the head of the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), was foaming at mouth at a female Muslim journalist for just asking about the number of Copts. “Jindī appealed to all persons who were attending that press conference not to repeat any questions about Coptic population census, adding CAPMAS has not focused on the space left for religion in identification cards. One might wonder why the CAPMAS chief was infuriated and declined to announce the number of Copts although the statistical body keeps announcing numbers in matters that are anything but important.”
'Amr al-Misrī. “AWR Daily Overview, January 20, 2012: Carter calls for supporting Islamists,” Press Review in Arab West Report, Week 3, Art 44, January 19, 2012. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2012/week-3/44-awr-daily-overview-january-20-2012-carter-calls-supporting-islamists.
“The question remains in light of reports amidst political circles that Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda III that the 10 persons to be appointed as members of parliament would be exclusively Copts. (Pope) Shenouda is apparently trying to break an important political and constitutional question; the appointment of 10 persons for parliament is the exclusive right of SCAF and more than that the constitution has not determined whether those 10 should be Copts, Muslim Brotherhood members or Salafists” (Milhim al-'Isawī, al-Rahmah, Jan. 20, p. 5).
Jayson Casper, “Many Copts Anxious as Islamists Win Majority in Parliament,” Arab-West Report, Week 3, Art 50, January 23, 2012. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2012/week-3/50-many-copts-anxious-islamists-win-majority-parliament.
The author makes an evaluation of the outcome of the election:
“The Democratic Alliance, dominated by the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) of the Muslim Brotherhood, has won 46 percent of the seats. The more conservative Salafi Nour Party has captured 24 percent. A handful of smaller Islamist parties add another 2 percent. Liberal politicians, who were once hopeful, are reeling from their losses. Coptic Christians are left pondering their murky future.”
“[…] Sidhom is prepared.”
“Our Plan B if Islamist groups seek an Islamic state is to oppose their constitution in a referendum, but if it is accepted, Copts and liberal Muslims – 40 percent of the population – will take again to the streets.”
Cornelis Hulsman and Jenna Ferrecchia, “Review of Elizabeth Kendal’s “Egypt: The Gross Insecurity of the Dhimmī,” Arab West Report, Week 7, Art 62, February 9, 2012. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2012/week-7/62-review-elizabeth-kendals-egypt-gross-insecurity-dhimmi.
“Kendal cites AINA in reporting that ‘some 4000 mostly Coptic residents from the village of Bahjūrah, a suburb of Naj’ Hamādī, are presently staging a sit-in at the Naj’ Hamādī police headquarters to protest the lack of security arising from police laxity.’ After some research, it is believed that this information as taken from a website called ‘Christian-Dogma,’ as they are the only source claiming thousands of Copts, where others are reporting only hundreds.”
'Amr al-Misrī, “AWR Daily Overview, February 20, 2012: Judges eager to apply sharī'ah, top judge tells cleric,” Press Review in Arab West Report, Week 8, Art 18, February 20, 2012. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2012/week-8/18-awr-daily-overview-february-20-2012-judges-eager-apply-shariah-top-judge-tells.
“Parliamentary sources inside the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) revealed that the party, in cooperation with the Salafī al-Nūr (Light) Party, is trying to seize half the number of seats of the constituent assembly that would draft a new constitution for Egypt.
There is an inclination inside the FJP to grab 30% of seats inside the assembly, al-Nūr 20%, the rest of parties 10% and the remaining 40% for syndicates and parties from outside parliament, the sources added” (Hamdī Dabash, Hānī al-Wazīrī and Ghādah Muhammad al-Sharīf, al-Misrī al-Yawm, Feb. 20, p. 1).
Cornelis Hulsman, “Comments on Egypt Independent’s article on emigration of Copts,” Arab-West Report, Week 8, Art 45, February 25, 2012. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2012/week-8/45-comments-egypt-independents-article-emigration-copts.
Commentary on Egypt Independent’s publishing of Najīb Jubrā’īl’s figures from his report claiming that 93,000 Copts left Egypt since March.
'Amr al-Misrī, “AWR Daily Overview, March 1, 2012: Academy of Islamic Research approves Christians’ custody of orphans,” Arab West Report, Week 9, Art 30, March 1, 2012. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2012/week-9/30-awr-daily-overview-march-1-2012-academy-islamic-research-approves-christians.
“[…] several Coptic activists demanded representation expressive of Christians in the Egyptian society in the constituent assembly that would draft a new constitution of Egypt, welcoming the church’s naming of Coptic Orthodox Bishop Mūsá of Youth in the panel. ‘We demand a Coptic representation that is expressive of our population rate in Egypt, which is 15-20%, and we will not allow our marginalization in draft the Egyptian constitution,’ Dr. Sharīf Dūs, President of the General Coptic Organization in Egypt, said in statements on Thursday” (‘Imād Khalīl, al-Misrī al-Yawm, March 1, p. 4).
'Amr al-Misrī, “AWR Daily Overview, March 2, 2012: Christians for keeping Article 2 of the constitution,” Arab West Report, Week 9, Art 36, March 2, 2012. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2012/week-9/36-awr-daily-overview-march-2-2012-christians-keeping-article-2-constitution.
“Dr. Munīr Hannā Anīs, the head of the Episcopal / Anglican Diocese of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa, said Christians of Egypt are for keeping Article 2 of the constitution that reads Islam is the official religion of the state and principles of the sharī’ah are the main source of legislation (Al-Ahrām, March 2, p. 6--Read original text in Arabic.).
[…] several Copts demanded to have a 10% representation in the constituent assembly that would draft a constitution for Egypt, adding this percentage represents their population in Egypt, according to their own statistics, and warning that ignoring their demands would anger the church and spark sectarian troubles.”
Jenna Ferrecchia, “Interview with Rā’id al-Sharqāwī: Coptic population figures and the 2011-2012 elections,” Arab-West Report, Week 12, Art 65, March 22, 2012. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2012/week-12/65-interview-raid-al-sharqawi-coptic-population-figures-and-2011-2012-elections.
The article provides a list of “Coptic population figures provided by Rā'id al-Sharqāwī in 2007 and 2011 in comparison to population figures presented by CAPMAS in the population census of 1996.
For 2011, Rā'id was able to obtain voter records from a former classmate from his university who is now in the military intelligence. For this reason he could not provide his name. These records, he claims, are available to the Supreme Council for the Armed Forces; the Ministry of Telephones and Communication, in order to provide voters with their voting information via a hotline; the Ministry of Justice’s Supreme Council for Registration of Elections; and the Ministry of the Interior.
From these records, Rā'id said, he was able to obtain figures for each governorate to update the information he provided for us.
The numbers [of Copts] that Rā'id offered for 2007 amount to under 6 million. His 2011 numbers add up to 10.9 million, including 1.1 million Egyptians living abroad; 400,000 of which, Rā'id claims, live in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. The numbers from 2011 are taken from voting records, which would only account for 56 million of 82 million Egyptians, because only 56 million people are eligible to vote.
According to Rā'id, the increase in citizen registration in 2011 following the fall of Mubārak accounts for some 3 million people who were not registered in 2007 and thus not included in his original figures. The 2011 number includes those who obtained an ID number in order to vote and receive government subsidies as well as those who had previously been hiding their identity for crimes or other purposes. Rā'id also mentioned the possible errors in estimation in 2007 when dealing with military records. The exempted categories from conscription—sons of widowers, the handicapped, minors, etc., he claims, also account for the differences in numbers between 2007 and 2011.
The 1996 CAPMAS figure for Cairo is drastically lower than the figure Rā'id provides only 11 years later for the area that he, too, refers to as “Cairo”. Because Rā'id estimates such a large number, it is uncertain whether he considers “Cairo” to include Giza, Helwan, and Qalyubiya, where the CAPMAS figure only includes the official Cairo governorate itself. However, the CAPMAS figure for Christians in Qalyubiya in 1996 is only 141,137 and it is highly unlikely that the Christians in Giza and Helwan could account for the roughly 1 million other Christians that should have existed in the greater Cairo area at that time according to Rā'id’s estimates.”
Cornelis Hulsman, “Compass Direct’s report on verdict on priest of Mārīnāb unfair and misleading,” Arab-West Report, Week 12, Art 69, March 22, 2012. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2012/week-12/69-compass-directs-report-verdict-priest-marinab-unfair-and-misleading.
“Al-Bayādiyah is a Christian village and most local villagers are proud that their village now suddenly boasts a large new church (thus not one on the location of an older smaller church). According to ‘Alā’ Bushrā, who was the assistant Coptic Catholic pastor in al-Bayādiyah until 3 years ago, the population could be between 25,000 and 30,000. He stated that the percentage of Christians there is at least 90%. The six churches in al-Bayādiyah are: Coptic Orthodox (by far the largest congregation and church building), Coptic Catholic, Coptic Evangelical, Brethren, Apostolic, and Reformed.”
Cornelis Hulsman, “Review of an Oasis article about Pope Shenouda, the man who was practically a whole Synod on his own,” Arab-West Report, Week 12, Art 86, March 23, 2012. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2012/week-12/86-review-oasis-article-about-pope-shenouda-man-who-was-practically-whole-synod.
Martino Diez and Meriem Senous published on March 22 an interesting interview with Father Rafīq Greish, head of the Press Office of the Coptic Catholic Church in Egypt. We are providing here some excerpts with comments showing disagreement on a few points.
Can you give us a general overview of the present position of the Copts?
The greatest aspiration of the Coptic community, which is made up of ten million or so Egyptians, has always been to acquire full citizenship rights and to prevent its members from being considered second-class citizens. There are still far too many discriminatory laws that have never been abolished despite many promises. For example, the Copts have been waiting 32 years for laws that would permit them to build churches.
With the loss of Shenouda III they feel deprived of the representation they had with the government, for it was he who dialogued with the military and civil authorities. Moreover, with the rise of political Islam, the need to have a strong Pope will become all the more pressing. But at the same time it will be necessary for the new pope to take up positions that are more emollient than intransigent.
CH: The number of ten million is highly inflated and father Rafīq Greish knows this. He knows of the work of Dr. Philippe Fargues and other scholars. The number of Christians in Egypt is more likely to be around 6 percent or around five million. He is probably using the inflated figure to please Coptic bishops who generally hold to the inflated number for political reasons that is trying to strengthen the position of Christians in Egypt. While this effort is correct, it is incorrect to use inflated figures that no one can check for this purpose. It is not true there are no laws on church building but it is true that there is no equality in building opportunities between mosques and churches which is in turn related to the way this and other laws in Egypt are executed.
Cornelis Hulsman, “Salāmah Mūsá, The Coptic Diaspora Survey and Numbers,” Arab-West Report, Week 14, Art 33, April 2, 2012. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2012/week-14/33-salamah-musa-coptic-diaspora-survey-and-numbers.
The article comments on a blog post, entitled “American Copts, Egypt and the Next Pope.” Unfortunately the post gives no author name. The article was published on a blog called “Salamamoussa. Reclaiming Egypt,” named after Salāmah Mūsá (1887-1958), a well-known journalist, writer, and advocate of secularism and Arab socialism who was born into a wealthy, land-owning Coptic family in the town of Al-Zaqāzīq located in the Nile Delta.
“There are no reliable surveys of the size and reach of American Copts beyond an excellent but limited scope study by Jennifer Brinkerhoff of George Washington University,” the unknown author on this blog states.
He continues: “Copts estimate their numbers in the United States as between 500,000 and one million. As with all Egyptian numbers, reliability is an issue. There are over 200 churches, and even a simple calculation will yield something comparable to 500,000, ranging from first to third generation Copts.”
The Coptic Diaspora Survey of Jennifer Brinkerhoff and her co-researcher Liesl Riddle (February 23, 2012) states the following about the numbers of Copts: “Exact numbers of Copts living in diaspora, as well as their destination countries, are difficult to trace as destination countries do not collect data on subnational identity. According to the International Organization for Migration (2010) 71% of the Egyptian diaspora resides in Arab countries. The number of Egyptians living in the countries surveyed for this study—the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom—is estimated to be 533,000. As with most diasporas, the Coptic diasporans estimate their numbers to be much higher than official estimates, even higher than the estimates of all Egyptian national immigrants.”
Comment made by Cornelis Hulsman: “[…] It is often presumed that around 70 percent of Egyptians in the West are of Coptic descent. […] Brinkerhoff and Riddle write that there is no data available to provide accurate numbers. They refer to one study that estimates “that in Europe Copts make up 30% of Egyptian nationals residing there.”
Most Copts came to the US in waves that started after the 1967 war. “Scant, but reliable, parish records indicate that as many as 1 in 3 Copts have intermarried with the general American population, mostly Catholic and Protestant Americans. As a result there maybe more than 1 Million Copts and ‘Copt-tinged’ Americans. This is not an inconsiderable number. The vast majority are solidly middle and upper middle class and disbursed across the country.”
Jennifer Brinkerhoff and Liesl Riddle state that “the exact number of Copts residing in Egypt is contested, with estimates ranging anywhere from eight to twelve percent of the total population.”
Comments by Cornelis Hulsman: “With all the good work carried out in this study this claim is certainly incorrect. The exact number of Copts in Egypt is indeed contested, but by whom? Primarily Coptic clergy and political activists. Of course, inflated numbers are useful to underline claims about discrimination and persecution and to support claims for building more churches and lobbying for more Copts in higher political and government functions. The range given by Brinkerhoff and Riddle is also not correct. Claims range between six percent and twenty percent of population. Why would they provide a more limited range? Because they do not want to take figures below eight percent and over twelve percent seriously? If you provide a range, then provide the full range, not only a segment.
[…] Philippe Fargues makes a strong argument for the proportion of Copts to be closer to six percent.
The Salāmah Mūsá blog provides a good observation “The numbers are simple. Twice in one year it was shown clearly that the Muslim Brother/Salafi grouping has 75% of the popular vote, while 25% belongs to a combination of liberal Muslims and Copts. We simply need to accept that as a fact.” It is highly unlikely that the Copts would outnumber liberal Muslims and thus his observation matches well with the work of Fargues.”
“Ninety-five percent [of Coptic migrants in the survey] indicated the future of Egypt is important to them. Respondents are most interested in making contributions to social development (80%), relative to economic (69%) and political development (67%). Only 9.76% (of 850 respondents) report they plan to live in Egypt in the future.” Interesting is this observation, “Contrary to the norm among American donors generally, 54% of respondents reported they either do not want or do not need to know the results of their contributions.”
Cornelis Hulsman, “Death of a Pope: The Worsening Position of Egypt’s Copts?” Arab-West Report, Week 14, Art 41, April 4, 2012. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/year-2012/week-14/41-death-pope-worsening-position-egypts-copts.
Cornelis Hulsman, Editor-in-Chief of Arab West Report comments on Ph.D. candidate, Emma Hayward’s analysis for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on the current status of Coptic Christians in relation to the Egyptian state and concludes that their position is weakening.
The Coptic Orthodox Church, to which around 95 percent of all Christians in Egypt belong, is now ruled by the Holy Synod.
The proportion of Copts is obviously important to Hayward since this is mentioned on three different occasions in her text. She first claims that Copts make up “approximately 10 percent of Egypt's population,” linking this to a comment that the one hundred drafters for the new constitutions “include just six Copts […].”
Hayward later repeats the argument that Copts are underrepresented: “The 100-person constitutional assembly includes very few delegates likely to be sympathetic to Coptic demands. Indeed, only six of them are Christian -- two of whom are members of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party. On his deathbed, the pope had attempted to use his remaining political clout to secure more seats for Copts in the assembly, but fell short.” She concludes that Copts are thus facing an “underrepresentation in the assembly,” which is not true. It seems Hayward is not aware of the studies of Philip Fargues, author of many studies on the statistics of Christians in the Arab World, who is convinced that the proportion of Copts in Egypt does not exceed six percent.
It is good Hayward mentioned that two out of the six Copts are members of the Freedom and Justice Party since it is certainly not true that Coptic members of this party would represent one-third of Coptic Christians in Egypt.
In her conclusion, Hayward returns to the proportion of Copts in Egypt: “At less than 10 percent of the population, the Copts are hardly a counterweight to the Islamist Muslim Brothers and Salafists who control nearly 75 percent of the parliament and who appointed the constitutional assembly.
1. Elizabeth Edwards, “Coptic Orthodox Statistics and Migration in Maghagha,” Arab-West Paper no. 32, August 29, 2011. URL:
URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/sites/default/files/pdfs/paper31.pdf. Elizabeth Edwards did research in migration and statistics of Coptic Christians in the bishopric of Maghagha. Priests in the area are not aware of any systematic counting or registration of the congregation or Christians in their own communities. The priests interviewed say they know all the members of the Church by name, however, and from knowing their congregation well they believe they have a good idea of the demographics of the Christians there.
2. Christopher D. Marshall, “Coptic Orthodox Migration and Statistics: Shubra al-Khayma,” Arab-West Paper no. 32, September 20, 2011.
URL:http://www.arabwestreport.info/sites/default/files/pdfs/paper32.pdf. “In the summer of 2011, Christopher D. Marshall spent one month in the Bishopric of Shubra al-Khayma, a suburb of Cairo, to gather information about Coptic Orthodox migration. With him he brought a series of interview questions compiled with the help of Dr. Cornelis Hulsman, which he hoped would uncover the methods of data collection used in the Shubra al-Khayma.”
This visit followed a promise of Bishop Marcos that Marshall would be fully informed in the way the bishopric is collecting and recording statistics. This was, however, not realized because the priest assigned to help Marshall was not aware of the methods of data collection in the bishopric and the bishop was in the period Marshall was in the bishopric hard to access for additional information and support.
3. Lamīs Yahyá, “What Happened in Mārīnāb Village?” Arab-West Report, Arab-West Paper 33, October 12, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/what-happened-marinab-village.
Numbers of Copts are also disputed on the smallest administrative units. Muslims “believed the numbers of Christians in the village to be no more than 30 people.” Copts in the village, however, claimed “around 55 families—so, around 250 people in Mārīnāb.” A police general stated that Copts in this village “numbered no more than 75 people.”
4. Sanne Lundberg, “Blessed Are They Who Are Persecuted, for Theirs Is the Kingdom of Heaven: Religious Resistance among Coptic Christians in Egypt,” Report, Lund University in Arab-West Report, December 22, 2011. URL: http://www.arabwestreport.info/sites/default/files/pdfs/paper36.pdf.
The Egyptian statistical office, CAMPAS, computed that the Copts make up around 6% of the population (Hulsman 2008). On the other hand, the Coptic Orthodox Church estimates that Copts account for 12-18% of the population (Scott 2010:8). According to the Religious Freedom report, however, Copts are estimated to make up about 8-12% percent of the population (U.S. Department of State 2010). Regardless of which estimate is correct, the Copts are clearly underrepresented (Lundberg 23-24).