Egypt’s Coptic Christians have been the target of unprecedented attacks since the 2011 Arab Spring uprising. The election of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2012 saw an upsurge with dozens of churches vandalised and even set on fire. And the violence is only escalating. 2016 has seen a wave of terror attacks targeting this minority group who now live in fear for their lives.
The administration of president Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood in 2012 triggered the escalation: Coptic businesses were destroyed and a more radical tone was taken in mosques... Egypts Copts were even later accused of inciting the fall of Morsi. Traumatised by these events, they voted overwhelmingly for Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in the 2014 presidential election - a return to the traditional style regime which goes against the wishes of the country’s younger generation.
But the military regime did not prevent the Islamic State group from establishing a lasting presence in Egypt, or from increasing their attacks on the Copts. Several churches have been targeted by the extremists as worshippers celebrated Mass, including in Cairo and Alexandria.
In a country weakened by extremism, the Copts fear for the future.
Many have fled; but this community remains determined to battle for its place in Egypt’s multi-faith society.