NGO report: 93,000 Copts left Egypt since March

NGO report: 93,000 Copts left Egypt since March

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Sun, 25/09/2011 - 15:15

Nearly 93,000 Coptic Christians have left Egypt since 19 March, a report by an Egypt-based Coptic NGO has said.

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.

The current trend of Coptic immigration endangers the structure of Egypt's population, Gabriel told Al-Masry Al-Youm on Sunday. He urged the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and the Egyptian cabinet to work on curbing the phenomenon.

Gabriel based the data stated in the report on information from Coptic churches and communities abroad.

"Nearly 16,000 migrated to California, while 10,000 moved to New Jersey, 8000 to New York, and 8000 to other American states," according to Gabriel. "Around 14,000 left to Australia, 17,000 to Canada, and 20,000 settled in the Netherlands, Italy, England, Austria, Germany and France."

Gabriel attributed the Coptic emigration to hardline Salafi groups seeking to apply Islamic law, deny Copts senior government posts, and reduce incoming tourism. He also blamed attacks on Coptic churches and the government's failure to bring attackers to justice.

Coptic author Kamal Zakher said the numbers in the report were exaggerated, but that concern over Coptic immigration is justifiable.

Migration procedures take up to a year to complete, so it is illogical to say the January revolution caused the Copts to leave the country, Zakher said.

The head of the Evangelical denomination in Egypt, Safwat al-Bayadi, also voiced his anxiety about Coptic immigration, noting that the continuation of the trend depends on the political forces ruling the country in the future.

Christians form nearly 10 percent of Egypt’s population. Following the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak in February, concerns have been growing among Christians over the mounting political influence of Islamist groups, some of which view Copts as infidels and deny them the right to assume top government posts.

However, Egypt’s biggest Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, had stressed Christians' right to the presidency and accepted them as members in its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party.

Translated from the Arabic Edition