Review of Elizabeth Edward’s “Coptic Orthodox statistics and migration in Maghagha”
This work builds upon the report "Report on church response to poverty in Egypt" and delves into the issue of poverty and migration. What number of the poor are bishops responsible to provide care for?
The basis of the report comes from field work in Maghāghah and interviews with Coptic migrants from Upper Egypt currently residing in Cairo. Unfortunately, due to the lack of CAPMAS statistics the researcher was unable to identify greater migrant flows.
A census of Christians in Egypt is coordinated by the Bishop’s office. There is no set rule for how frequently such census are carried out, they occur when the Bishop asks for one. It also seems that this is not done systematically in all villages at the same time. The bishop’s office, for example, has never asked the Church in Qufādah to carry out any kind of counting or registration of the congregation or Christians in the village.
Migrants from the area are still counted as belonging to the churches they came from. It is therefore extremely hard to come up with concrete figures about the number of migrants in a particular period.
Interestingly only Christians were well aware of the American “lottery” through which people could obtain an immigration visa to the US. Muslims interviewed did not know but this does not mean that Muslims could not make use of this but simply that the knowledge of this method of emigration seems to be better known to Christians then to Muslims in the area.
Conversions and mistakes in the government providing ID’s with the correct religious identity of the person concerned do happen but the interviews do not indicate that these numbers are very high.