Custodians of social peace or contenders in a popularity contest? The Egyptian Armed Forces and Egypt’s Coptic Christians
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Original versionBergen: Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI Working Paper WP 2015:4)
This report analyses current and past relations between the Egyptian Coptic Christian community and the Egyptian Armed Forces, discussing contemporary events on the backdrop of historical analysis. Based on a thorough review of secondary sources, as well as data from personal interviews, the report finds that there are clear inconsistencies in the Egyptian military’s relationship with the Coptic community. Beneath the military’s rhetoric of national unity and symbolic gestures of military-led church reconstructions and reconciliation councils is a personnel base that currently, and historically, has few Copts in its ranks. The military has led several oppressive and discriminative operations directed specifically at Coptic places of worship and Coptic activists. The implication of these findings is that if national unity can be defined as social peace and tolerance, the Egyptian military has yet to prove that it can play a constructive role in maintaining it. In order to foster a society that is more tolerant than what we see in Egypt today, the political process must be more inclusive than it is in its current state.