By Raymond Ibrahim – Coptic Solidarity –
Generally speaking, which nations are more prejudiced and discriminatory—Western or non-Western nations? Listening to Western media, the answer seems clear enough: the West, still dominated by ethnically white people, is rife with systematic racism, unlike the much more egalitarian, non-white and non-Western world.
Nor does it seem to matter how many non-whites advance in the West. Recently, for instance, Charles Quinton Brown Jr, an African-American, was promoted to Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staffs. Along with the Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, this means that the US Military’s top positions are occupied by black men.
African-Americans, in fact, hold all sorts of public and official offices. A black man, Barack Obama, was elected President of the U.S., and a black woman, Kamala Harris, is currently Vice President of the U.S. Before Brown Jr, Colin Powell was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the U.S. Armed Forces, and later became Secretary of State. He was succeeded by a black woman, Condoleezza Rice.
There are, moreover, many black senators, governors, and congressmen; successful black CEOs, physicians, scientists, and professors; and, of course, black athletes. Most notably in the media—from big budget Hollywood to local advertisements—blacks appear to be overly represented than their respective population might warrant.
Despite this, America, we are regularly informed, is a highly prejudiced nation. Allow me, therefore, to delineate how a truly prejudiced nation behaves.
When it comes to minority status, Egypt’s Coptic Christians and America’s blacks have something in common: both groups account for roughly 15 percent of their nations’ populations. And that is where their similarities end. If from America’s small black population, many make it into important and prestigious positions, Muslim Egypt’s Christian population are nowhere to be found in any of that nation’s positons of leadership. Consider a few statistics:
On Jan. 17, 2023, Presidential Decree #12 was announced in Egypt. It listed 100 newly appointed vice-presidents of the State Council. Only one of them was a Christian. As Coptic Solidarity had observed then , “This is one more proof—if proof was needed—that severe and systemic discrimination against Egypt’s indigenous Christian Copts is a state policy, sanctioned by the President personally.”
It was, to be sure, just the latest instance of overt discrimination. A few months earlier, in September, 2022, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued several other presidential decrees for the appointment of new deputy prosecutors. Out of 516 hires, a paltry five—meaning less than 1 percent—were Christians. (Meanwhile, the Egyptian embassy in Washington D.C. boasts of Sisi’s efforts to ensure “meritocracy in civil service.”)
One month before that, in August, 2022, the president of Cairo University assigned 31 new directors, deputy directors, managers, and researchers to head a number of departments, including those of agriculture, medicine, engineering, nursing, dentistry, statistical research, and African Studies. Not a single one of them was Christian. All were Muslim.
Before that, in March, 2022, 98 female judges took the legal oath in preparation for assuming judicial roles in Egypt’s State Council. This was considered a major and unprecedented advancement. Since its inception 75 years earlier, not a single woman had sat on the podium of the State Council court—and now 98 are. Yet, not one of them is a Christian—again, despite the fact that the Copts account for between 15 percent of Egypt’s population, suggesting that at the very least 14 of the 98 should have, for proper representation, been Christian.
The list of areas where Egypt’s Christians hit an invisible (or rather very visible) ceiling of between 0-2 percent of total hires is long; it goes from the military to the police, from academia to local governance, from public companies to media, from judiciary to diplomatic corps.
Such overt discrimination persists in even less “formal” occupations. Take football (American soccer), for example—a very popular national pastime in Egypt. As Coptic Solidarity has repeatedly reported (here, here, and here), and as Aid to the Church in Need noted in a February, 2022 report,
Christians make up around 15 percent of the population of Egypt and are as football-crazy as their Muslim neighbours, but there is not a single Copt in the national team….There are no official statistics on the number of Copts in Egypt, but estimates vary between 10 percent and 20 percent. … The fact that no Copts, of any denomination, are represented in top-level football, and therefore in the national team, stings.
Incidentally, all of this is a reflection of the growing radicalization of Egypt. After all, even by Egypt’s “modest” standards, in the few tumultuous, but some kind of “Liberal,” decades preceding the Free Officers’ coup (the “1952 Revolution”), it was possible for Copts to occupy positions such posts as Foreign Minister, Minister of Defense, Prime Minister, and Speaker of the Parliament. Such things are unimaginable under the current regime, which is a de-facto alliance between the military and Islamists (despite all pretence otherwise).
In short, and to get a better idea of the ongoing diminution of Christian representation in Egypt, imagine for a moment if blacks, who make up 13.6 percent of America, held 0 percent of all important and prestigious positions in the nation, including in media, and between 0-2 percent of virtually every other decent job. What would be said of the U.S.—and how would its progressives howl?
Meanwhile, little is said of Egypt, and no one but its Coptic Christians howl (in an echo chamber).
At any rate, here is a stark reminder that discrimination—to say nothing of outright persecution and even slaughter—is not limited to race.