Increased tension between Islam and Christianity has resulted in the emigration of 100,000 Christians from Egypt since March 2011, which commentators are saying will detrimentally affect Egypt’s demographic diversity and economic stability.
The report documenting the emigration, compiled by the Egyptian Union of Human Rights Organizations, contends that the main vein of conflict is between the Egyptian’s Muslim sect, the Salafists, and Egypt’s Christian sect, the Copts.
Christians are also fleeing other areas of the Middle East, including Iraq and Palestine. Lebanon’s Christian population has fallen from 75 percent to 32 percent.
Critics argue that such immense emigration is in large due to the Arab Spring uprisings beginning in December 2010. These protests gave the predominately Islamic nations a confidence boost.
Islam and Christianity have always had a frictional relationship. Politicos contend that because the Islamic world achieved so much political sway in the uprising, they now have more confidence to drive out a religion that they consider a foreign invader in a predominately Muslim land.
Also, many Salafists who were active in the uprising are now holding powerful political office.
According to director of the EUHRO, Naguib Gabriel, the Copts are not leaving voluntarily, but are rather being forced out by Salafist aggressive tactics.
In the report sent to the Egyptian Cabinet and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the EUHRO contended that, “Copts constitute a strong pillar in the economy. Copts who are leaving their homeland are not prompted by their need for work, as they are from the professional and business class, but from fear of the hard line Salafists."
Another force driving Christians out of these Middle Eastern countries is fear instilled by the Salafistas. According to the EUHRO press release, there have been multiple attacks since the January Spring which have contributed greatly to the emigration.
Recent attacks include the killing of nine Christians in the Mokatam Hills in early September, a Coptic church bombing in Alexandria on New Year’s Day, and cutting off the ear of an older Copt in Qena.
Copts have spoken out against the unfair, violent treatment. In May, Copts gathered in Martin Place, shouting “enough is enough,” to rebel the violence.
Many Copts attribute the removal of President Hosni Mubarak as the reason Christian intolerance has escalated.
The predominant area of new settlement is the United States, where the majority of Americans are Christian and the president himself is a Christian. California alone has seen 160,000 Copts settle there since March.