CAIRO – Thousands of Egypt’s Coptic Christians are fleeing to Europe, the United States and elsewhere rather than face mounting discrimination at home.
Copts, Egypt’s ancient Christian community, are the country’s largest minority, making up nearly 10 percent of its 85 million people.
But clashes between Christians and Muslims have become more frequent since the ouster of longtime authoritarian ruler Hosni Mubarak in the 2011 uprising – some say due to a breakdown of government security. Many Copts feel Egypt's Islamist-led government is not doing enough to protect them from religious hate crimes and inflammatory rhetoric – so many are leaving.
“My sister in California wanted a better life for her and her two daughters,” explained Marianne Aziz, a 25-year-old pharmacist. “There was a big fight between us and our Muslim neighbors over our parking place ... . They cut my brother-in-law’s face with a knife.”
Aziz said that after that incident, “My sister felt she was no longer safe anymore. She got a hospital report on her husband’s injuries and a police report and when they went to the U.S., she immediately [applied for] asylum.”
Egyptian now ranks as the second highest nationality to receive asylum in the United States – although it is uncertain how many are Copts because immigration statistics do not include religious affiliation, many of the asylum seekers are believed to be Christian.
The number of Egyptians receiving asylum in the U.S. has jumped more than five-fold in recent years. In 2010, the year before the revolution, just 531 Egyptians received asylum in the U.S.; in 2012, that number jumped to 2,882, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s statistical data for 2012. (Continue Reading.)
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