After Sectarian Violence, Coptic Pope Takes On Egypt’s President


It would be unfair and inaccurate to say that Egypt’s Muslim-Christian problems started with the January 2011 revolution. After all, Coptic Christian churches in Egypt were hit in two separate deadly attacks in the final 14 months of Hosni Mubarak’s reign. One of them — a church bombing in Alexandria that killed 23 — came just two months before the Egyptian revolution began. And in November 2010, Coptic youth battled security forces for days in Giza in a dispute over the acrimonious issue of government restrictions on church building permits.

In short, Egypt’s sectarian ice had been dangerously thin for years. But this weekend’s sudden spasm of Muslim-Christian violence opened up new cracks: there’s the very real possibility now of open conflict between Egypt’s fledgling Islamist rulers and the Coptic Orthodox Church itself. The present moment represents yet another serious challenge to a country already paralyzed by political…

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