This report by Arab-West Report explains the context of the massive destruction of churches and Christian institutions in Egypt in August 2013. Very often media describe tensions between Muslims and Christians in Egypt in generalized terms, but this report prepared for the German organization, Missio, shows that tensions are primarily between Christians and Islamists. These tensions have deep roots dating back to the founding of religious reform movements in Egyptian Islam and Christianity; the Muslim Brotherhood, the Sunday School Movement, that has made Christians more aware of their Christian faith, and the more politicized Umma al-Qibtiya (forbidden in the 1950ties but influences live on). A military coup d’état in 1952 not only erased Egyptian democracy, but also suppressed political Islam, wiped out Christian secular leadership and made, in particular since Pope Shenouda’s election in 1971, the Coptic Pope the main religious and political representative of Christians in Egypt.
The last years of Mubarak brought a weakened state and the growing strength of Islamism. The January 25, 2011 Revolution worsened this fragility, which in turn resulted in more community (horizontal) violence as opposed to state (vertical) oppression. Coptic Christians were active in demonstrations against the Mursī regime. The Coptic Orthodox Pope sought support from the army, which has brought the Coptic community the ire of many Islamists.
The violence went hand-in-hand with the virtually non-existent lines of communication between Coptic Christians and Islamists. Arab-West Report Editor-in-Chief, Cornelis Hulsman and researcher, Robert A. Forster, conclude that a frank dialogue between Coptic Christians and Islamists could possibly help reduce tensions.