The “Qibt of Misr”—Egypt’s Coptic Christians—have lived as a socio-religious minority in an Arab Muslim majority state since the seventh century. This talk examines Coptic identity and faith in terms of two factors. First, the Copts have survived because of a theology of persecution and spiritual purification looking forward to a reward in Heaven. Second, changes in legal structure—from the 1980 constitutional amendment declaring Sharia the source of Egyptian law to the addition of blasphemy to the penal code to contemporary struggles under the Morsi and Sisi governments over the secular/religious nature of the State—have restricted freedoms of religion and speech.
Magdy Behman (Eastern Mennonite University, Virginia, USA) has taught world religions, intercultural studies, and Islamic studies at the State Islamic University (UIN) Sunan Kalijaga, Yogyakarta, since 2016.
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