Copts Increasingly Involved in Egyptian Politics, Researchers Say

Researchers from an American university have argued that, based on a survey they conducted, Coptic Christians are becoming more involved in Egyptian politics since the nation's 2011 revolution.

Dr. Jennifer Brinkerhoff and Dr. Liesl Riddle of George Washington University found that the number of Copts involved in Egyptian political parties had gone from 1.1 percent to 3.4 percent.

"You start with a very, very small percentage, but despite the fact that it is small it is notable that it more than doubled," said Brinkerhoff in an interview with The Christian Post.

"So that's what we are looking at. We're looking at where the changes are happening on that margin …. Still little, but a lot more than before."

According to Brinkerhoff, the survey, which focused a great deal of attention on Coptic philanthropic efforts, did not ask respondents specific questions on political affiliation or what policies they support.

"We thought it was enough to begin asking questions about political engagement in the formal at all," said Brinkerhoff.

These and other findings came from a large survey of Coptic Christians living either in Egypt or abroad. The results of the survey were presented at an event at the campus of GWU on Friday, Feb. 10.

Other speakers at the event included His Grace Bishop Angaelos, a Coptic Christian bishop from the United Kingdom, and Dilip Ratha, manager of the Migration and Remittances Unit at the World Bank.

Bishop Angaelos, who had recently been to Egypt, told CP that he believed the increase in political involvement was directly connected to the overthrow of former President Hosni Mubarak.

"I think you will find that Christian and Muslims were very rarely involved in the process before February of last year," said Angealos.

The Coptic Orthodox Church is the largest Christian denomination in Egypt, making up anywhere between eight and twelve percent of the nation's population.

Copts have endured sporadic persecution both during the decades long reign of Mubarak and after his overthrow. While many have seen the success of Islamist parties in the Parliamentary elections as a sign of concern, others feel that it is still possible for a constitution to be crafted by the Egyptian government that would guarantee religious minority rights for the Copts and other groups.

The survey was initiated in 2010. However, events in Egypt delayed its start until November 2011. The presentation of the findings was sponsored by the charity organization Coptic Orphans and The Elliot School of International Affairs at George Washington University.

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