About 30 Coptic Christians in Egypt were killed in clashes that involved both the Egyptian military and radical Muslims Oct. 9. This week on Interfaith Voices, I interviewed Thomas Farr, the Director of the Religious Freedom Project at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University, about the plight of the Copts, who comprise about 10 percent of the Egyptian population.
According to Farr, this dispute is about far more than the Copts themselves. It involves the very future of religious freedom and democracy in Egypt.
Farr points out that the Copts, an ancient group that traces its lineage back to the apostolic age, are part of the large community of Eastern Orthodox churches, although a few Copts are Catholic.
In recent years, they have been seeking to repair or rebuild old churches, something requires political permission in Egypt. That was the focus of their peaceful demonstration when they were attacked by the Egyptian military, which used heavy vehicles to run some of them over.