The Middle East has turned hostile to Christians and other religious minorities. The Iraqi Christian community has been devastated. Syria’s civil war loosed the murderous Islamic State on Christians and others. Libya’s disintegration opened the nation to IS fighters bent on killing anyone of the wrong faith.
Also at risk are Egypt’s Copts, who make up about ten percent of that country’s population. Coptic Christians predate Islam and played an important role in Egypt’s development. But they long suffered from discrimination and persecution.
Under dictator Hosni Mubarak the U.S. State Department called the status of religious liberty “poor” and noted that Christians and Baha’is faced “personal and collective discrimination, especially in government employment and their ability to build, renovate, and repair places of worship.” Moreover, explained State, the government “sometimes arrested, detained, and harassed” those “whose beliefs and/or practices it deemed to deviate from mainstream Islamic beliefs and whose activities it alleged to jeopardize communal harmony.”
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