The Copts of Egypt: The Challenges of Modernisation and by Vivian Ibrahim

By Vivian Ibrahim

The Coptic Christians of Egypt have usually been portrayed as a "beleaguered minority." This booklet makes use of newly found Coptic archival assets to give a shiny and replacement photo of the group, interpreting Coptic organization within the 20th century. Vivian Ibrahim unearths a robust Coptic reaction to the emergence and threats of Political Islam from the Nineteen Forties, and examines how Copts negotiated a task for themselves in the course of the colonial interval and in Nasser’s post-revolutionary Egypt. disregarding the monolithic portrayal of the group, she highlights the numerous Coptic factions and teams that contributed to the identification of the Coptic neighborhood within the first half the 20th century.

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Extra resources for The Copts of Egypt: The Challenges of Modernisation and Identity (Library of Modern Middle East Studies)

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The tax recording system used by Copts was considerably different from those of the Muslims in terms of style and content. 41 This ensured that they were in a unique position to serve the administration when Muhammad ‘Ali began his modernisation process, as only Copts educated in this form of collection started to be employed. Given the expenses of the modernisation program, Muhammad ‘Ali closely scrutinised tax collection and revenue. Mu‘allim Basilious Ghali was chief of the Coptic guild responsible for the collection of taxes throughout the country.

In Asyut for example, a largely Christian city in Upper Egypt, there were complaints that all men had been conscripted and that as a result there were no men available to support their families. The situation became so unbearable that the Coptic patriarch intervened with the government in order to have the Copts exempted from military service. 52 A Renaissance in the Coptic Community The modernisation policies of Muhammad ‘Ali and his successors helped redefine the boundaries of identity in Egypt bringing nonMuslim communities, and Copts in particular, into the sphere of an emerging centralised state.

As an example of the actions carried out, there is evidence that Demetrius summoned a Coptic priest of Beni Aleig in Upper Egypt, whose brother had been a student at one of the missions’ theological schools, and accused him of preaching Protestant heresy at Sunday Mass. It was arranged that the priest would be severely beaten by soldiers, and degraded of his priesthood on account of his brother’s actions. 118 Demetrius, with the assistance of the state, closed all mission day-schools, as well as a theological seminary which had recently been opened.

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