Christians

Coptic Orthodox (Copts)

Coptic Orthodox Christianity is the indigenous form of Christianity that, according to tradition, the apostle Mark established in Egypt in approximately 60 AD.

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Coptic Orthodox priests

Christianity spread throughout Egyptian cities within half a century of Mark's arrival in Alexandria and then gradually to rural areas as well. Copts make up 6 percent of Egypt’s population and speak Coptic, the language of Egypt dating back to Roman times. However, due to the Arabisation of Egypt, service in churches has witnessed an increased use of Arabic.

In the Coptic Church, only men may be ordained, and they must be married before they are ordained, if they wish to be married. Copts celebrate Christmas on the January 7th, which is an official national holiday in Egypt. There has been an increase in violence and oppression against the Copts by Muslim fundamentalists. Copts also complain that religious intermarriage is not allowed in Egypt and that Copts are forced to convert to Islam is they want to marry a Muslim. But at the same time, it is illegal in Egypt for a Muslim to convert and become a Copt.

Assyrians / Chaldeans

Assyrians are the indigenous people of north Iraq. Assyrians have staunchly resisted assimilation by local hegemonies, whether Arabs, Turks or Kurds. The Assyrians descend from the Assyrian nation that conquered ancient Syria, Israel and Mesopotamia in the 8th and 7th

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Man praying at a Chaldean Church near Irbil, Iraq.

century BC. Turkish nationalists in control of the collapsing Ottoman Empire began their systematic elimination of Christian minorities and as early as December 1914, the Assyrians were being forced from their homes. About 750,000 Assyrians, or about three-fourths of the entire Assyrian population, were killed during ‘Year of the Sword.’ Assyrians are not Arabs ethnically or culturally, but they contributed to the rise of the Arabic civilization during the Abbasid period since many scientists and scholars were in fact Assyrian. They are split among three churches: Assyrian Church of the East (Nestorian), the Chaldean Catholic Church of Babylon and the Syrian Orthodox Church. Since Saddam Hussein’s fall, they have been facing increasing violence and oppression from their Muslim neighbors, Arab and Kurd.

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