Egypt — June 2006

Sociopolitical Situation

The frustration of the Egyptian population has increased, particularly after anti-Christian riots (which were supported by the government’s security forces) in Alexandria earlier this year.

The Christian minority, which represents 10 percent of Egypt’s population of 70 million people, faces increased discrimination, a bias that began in the modern period with the erosion of a democratic government in 1952. In addition, the introduction of Islam into the nation’s political life in 1972 isolated Copts, excluding them from political life.

Islamic extremists continue to target Christians, especially in Upper Egypt, assaulting Copts and attacking churches. Recent ministerial elections witnessed a remarkable rise for the Extremists, who won 88 seats. 55 Copts ran for office, but none were elected.

Acts of anti-Copt discrimination and violence, although not mentioned in the press, are not incidents restricted to Alexandria alone. They also are a fact of life for Copts in large cities such as Cairo and others in the Delta and Upper Egypt.

Other important incidents include:

  • Bombardment in the tourist city of Dahab in the Sinai, which killed 18 persons and injured 85.
  • Violence exercised by security forces against a street demonstration organized by opposition groups held in solidarity with reformist judges. 400 demonstrators were detained while protesting government pressure on judges who have called for judicial independence.

Egypt has been in transition from a state-dominated economy to a free-market economy.

The greatest threat to domestic stability is a stagnating economy. According to World Bank development indicators, about 40 percent of all Egyptians live on less than US $2 per day, despite a per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of about US $ 1,470. Official figures put the unemployment rate at 11 percent in 2005, but independent sources place the real rate much higher.

The government recognizes the need for increased investment, both foreign and domestic, to create jobs for the estimated 750,000 people who have entered the job market each year since the early 1990’s. Business registration processes, a growing fiscal deficit, blocking privatization, lack of transparency and a poor educational system, continue to challenge economic growth and real reform.

Egypt’s budget deficit continues to grow, exceeding US $ 1.62 billion dollars.

Religious Situation

Three major events took place in the life of the church:

  1. The Synod of the Coptic Catholic Bishops met and elected a new patriarch to replace Patriarch Stephanos, who resigned at the beginning of 2006. The election of Patriarch Antonios Neguib, former Bishop of Minia, positively affected the Coptic Catholic Community in general and the hierarchy in particular due to his good reputation and his pastoral and administrative capabilities.
  2. Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald was appointed as the new apostolic nuncio to Egypt.
  3. The heads of the Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant churches issued a common condemnation against the “Da Vinci Code” film.

Recent Posts

Get to know us and stay informed about the impact your support makes.

Nous constatons que votre préférence linguistique est le français.
Voudriez-vous être redirigé sur notre site de langue française?

Oui! Je veux y accéder.

Hemos notado que su idioma preferido es español. ¿Le gustaría ver la página de Asociación Católica para el Bienestar del Cercano Oriente en español?

Vee página en español