How are the lives of about 15% of Christians in Egypt?
We have been wondering about it since we arrived here.
According to one of our guides, 85% of the Egyptian population are Muslins. The remaining is of 15% are Christians and a little more than 200 people are Jews. The Egypt’s constitution does not recognise other forms of religion other than the three mentioned above.
Christians in Egypt
Egyptian Christians follow the Coptic Orthodox Church established in the country in the middle of the 1st century by the apostle and evangelist Saint Mark. Obviously, there are much fewer churches than mosques across the country. But curiously, many are close to each other and often even share the same space. How does this work, we have no idea.
A curiosity: Christians’ houses are always marked with a cross embedded in the gate. It is not necessarily a cross but just a small detail that recalls the Catholic symbol. If that had not been pointed out by a person who we met over there, certainly it would have passed unnoticed.
Nevertheless, people’s religion is indicated in everyone’s ID, albeit is not necessary to ask anyone’s identity in order to know their religious choice. The name of the person, the way he is dressed and often behaves are already major indicators of their spiritual inclination.
Our meeting with one Christian in Egypt
We managed to speak briefly with one Christian only. It was one of the drivers who took us to the temples of Luxor. His name was Ibrahim. He had a small cross tattooed on his wrist and a prayer beads hanging on the rear view mirror of the car. Later, we realised that the majority of Christians have the same mark in their wrists. According to another Egyptian we met, the very own fathers of the children tattoo it on their wrists when they are young.
For our great sadness, Ibrahim did not speak much English and we ended our conversation with more questions than when we started… But anyway, he insisted in showing us that the life between a Christian and a Muslin is not easy.
The segregation and prejudice are enormous, both from the government and the population. As Ibrahim told us, even the police treat them with great despise. On the other hand however, we were there during a Christian festival and found out later that for the first time, the president Sisi, a Muslim himself, attended the celebration too.
We have also met other Christians during our staying in Egypt. We recognised them through the cross tattooed or the prayer seeds hanging somewhere. However, talking about religion is rather sensitive around here and it becomes quite hard to engage into deeper conversations.