Infobox Religious group
group = Copts
AqbaUnicode|ṭ أقباط
Coptic|ⲛⲓⲣⲉⲙ'ⲛⲭⲏⲙⲓ 'ⲛ'Ⲭⲣⲏⲥⲧⲓ'ⲁⲛⲟⲥ
ni.Remenkīmi en Ekhristianos

image_caption = Top row (left to right) Saint Mary of EgyptBoutros Boutros GhaliEster FanousSaint Maurice Bottom row (left to right) Makram Pasha EbeidMeriam George • Saint Paul the Hermit and Saint Anthony the GreatPope Cyril VI
population = 8,000,000 to 18,000,000 (estimates vary)
region1 = flagcountry|Egypt
pop1 = 7,500,000 - 16,600,000 (estimates)
(see Religion in Egypt)
ref1 = lower| [ Official population counts put the number of Copts at around 6% of the population, while some Coptic voices claim figures as high as 15 to 20%. While some scholars defend the soundness of the official population census (cf. E.J.Chitham, The Coptic Community in Egypt. Spatial and Social Change, Durham 1986), most scholars and international observers assume that the Christian share of Egypt's population is higher than stated by the Egyptian government. Most independent estimates fall within range between 9% and 20%, for example the CIA World Factbook [] , or the Washington Institute [] . For a projected 83,000,000+ Egyptians in 2008, this assumption yields the above figures. ]
region2 = flagcountry|USA
pop2 = 300,000 - 1,000,000
ref2 = lower| [According to the National Council of Churches of the U.S.A., the Coptic Orthodox Church has at least 300,000 members (as of the year 2000), [] while US-Coptic Associations indicate 700,000 - 1,000,000 [] .]
region3 = flagcountry|Australia
pop3 = 70,000+ (2003)
ref3 = lower| [In the year 2003, there was an estimated 70,000 Copts in New South Wales alone: - cite hansard | url= | house=Parliament of NSW - Legislative Council | date= 12 November 2003| page=Page: 4772: - "Coptic Orthodox Church (NSW) Property Trust Amendment Bill"] lower| [ [ The Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Sydney & its Affiliated Regions - Under the Guidance of His Grace Bishop Daniel ] ]
region4 = flagcountry|Kuwait
pop4 = 65,000
ref4 = lower| [ [ Kuwait] ]
region5 = flagcountry|Canada
pop5 = 50,000+ (2008 est.)
ref5 = lower| [ [ Canada Free Press: According to the Canadian Coptic Association, there are approximately 50,000 Orthodox Copts in Canada.] ]
region6 = flagcountry|UK
pop6 = 25,000 - 30,000 (2006)
ref6 = lower| [Copts number at least 20,000 in Britain [] plus another 5,000 - 10,000 Copts who are directly under the [ British Orthodox Church (1999 figures)] ]
region7 = flagcountry|Jordan
pop7 = 8,000+ (2005)
ref7 = lower| [ [ King commends Coptic Church's role in promoting coexistence ] ]
region8 = flagcountry|Germany
pop8 = 3,000 - 5,000 (2005)
ref8 = lower| []
region9 = flagcountry|Austria
pop9 = 2,000 (2001)
ref9 = lower| [ [ Austria 2004] Religious Freedom news]
region10 = flagcountry|Switzerland
pop10 = 1,000 (2004)
ref10 = lower| [ [ Orthodox Copts open church in Switzerland] ]
region11 = flagcountry|France
pop11 =
ref11 =
region12 = flagcountry|New Zealand
pop12 =
ref12 =
region13 = flagcountry|Netherlands
pop13 =
ref13 =
region14 = flagcountry|Brazil
pop14 =
ref14 =
region15 = flagcountry|Italy
pop15 =
ref15 =
region16 = flagcountry|Israel
pop16 =
ref16 =
region17 = flagcountry|Sudan
pop17 =
ref17 =
region18 = flagcountry|Bolivia
pop18 =
ref18 =
rels = Predominantly: Coptic Orthodox Christianity.
Minorities include: Coptic Catholicism, Protestantism
scrips = Bible
langs = Liturgical: Coptic
In Egypt: Egyptian Arabic
In the diaspora: English, French, German and others
A Copt (Coptic: Coptic|ⲟⲩⲣⲉⲙ'ⲛⲭⲏⲙⲓ 'ⲛ'Ⲭⲣⲏⲥⲧⲓ'ⲁⲛⲟⲥ "ou.Remenkīmi en.Ekhristianos", literally: "Egyptian Christian") is a native Egyptian Christian. Copts are not a cultural or ethnic minority but Egyptians whose ancestors embraced Christianity in the first century.cite web | last = M. Ibrahim | first = Youssef | title= "U.S. Bill Has Egypt's Copts Squirming" | publisher= New York Time | date=April 18, 1998 | url =| accessdate=2008-10-08] The word "Coptic" was originally used in Classical Arabic to refer to Egyptians in general (see etymology section), but it has undergone semantic shift over the centuries to mean more specifically Egyptian Christian after the bulk of the Egyptian population converted to Islam. ["The people of Egypt before the Arab conquest in the 7th century identified themselves and their language in Greek as Aigyptios (Arabic qibt, Westernized as Copt); when Egyptian Muslims later ceased to call themselves Aigyptioi, the term became the distinctive name of the Christian minority." [ Coptic Orthodox Church] . "Encyclopædia Britannica Online". 2007] In modern usage, it is frequently applied to members of the Coptic Orthodox Church irrespective of ethnic origin. Thus Ethiopian and Eritrean Christians (and Nubians before their conversion to Islam) were traditionally referred to as Copts, though this has been falling out of use since their Tewahedo Churches were granted their own patriarchs.

The Coptic Christian population in Egypt is the largest Christian community in the Middle East. cite web | last = Cole | first = Ethan| title=Egypt's Christian-Muslim Gap Growing Bigger | publisher= The Christian Post | date=July 8, 2008 | url = | accessdate=2008-10-02] Christians represent around 10-20% of a population of over 80 million Egyptians,cite web|url=|title=Egypt from “The World Factbook”|date=September 4, 2008|publisher= American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)] cite web|url=|title=”The Copts and Their Political Implications in Egypt”|date=October 25, 2005|publisher=Washington Institute for Near East Policy] [ [ IPS News] (retrieved 09-27-2008)] [ [] . "The Washington Post". "Estimates of the size of Egypt's Christian population vary from the low government figures of 6 to 7 million to the 12 million reported by some Christian leaders. The actual numbers may be in the 9 to 9.5 million range, out of an Egyptian population of more than 60 million." Retrieved 10-10-2008] [ [] . "The New York Times". Retrieved 10-10-2008.] [ [] The Christian Post. Accessed 28 September, 2008.] [ [ NLG Solutions] . "Egypt". Accessed 28 September, 2008.] cite web|url=|title= Egypt from “U.S. Department of State/Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs”|date=September 30, 2008 |publisher= United States Department of State] cite web|url=|title=Egypt from “Foreign and Commonwealth Office”|date=August 15, 2008|publisher=Foreign and Commonwealth Office -UK Ministry of Foreign Affairs] cite web|url=|title=Egypt Religions & Peoples from “LOOKLEX Encyclopedia”|date=September 30, 2008|publisher= LookLex Ltd.] cite web|url=|title=Egypt from “msn encarta”|date=September 30, 2008 |publisher= Encarta] though estimations vary (see Religion in Egypt). Around 90% of whom belong to the native Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. The remaining (around 800,000) are divided between the Coptic Catholic and the Coptic Protestant churches.

The number of Copts within Egypt may be very slowly declining due to higher emigration rates caused by harassment and discrimination at the hands of Islamist militants and the Egyptian governmentFact|date=October 2008. Egyptian Copts have occasionally been on the receiving end of violent acts from Islamic extremist groupsFact|date=October 2008. Copts have leveled the accusation that the Egyptian government has sometimes been complicit or uncaring in the face of such incidents. [Imad Boles, " [ Egypt - Persecution: Disappearing Christians of the Middle East] ", Middle East Quarterly (Winter 2001).]


The English word "Copt" is from New Latin "Coptus", which is derived from Arabic Unicode|"qubṭi" قبطي (pl: Unicode|qubṭ قبط and Unicode|aqbāṭ أقباط), an Arabisation of the Coptic word "kubti" (Bohairic) and/or "kuptaion" (Sahidic). This word is in turn derived from the Greek word polytonic|Αἰγύπτιος, "aiguptios": "Egyptian", from polytonic|Αἴγυπτος, "aiguptos": "Egypt".The Greek term for "Egypt" has a long history. It goes back to the Mycenaean language (an early form of Greek) where the word "a3-ku-pi-ti-jo" (lit. "Egyptian"; used here as a man's name) was written in Linear B. This Mycenaean form is likely from Egyptian Unicode|"ḥwt-k3-ptḥ" ("Hut-ka-Ptah"), literally "Estate (or 'House') of Ptah" (cf. Akkadian Unicode|"āluḫi-ku-up-ta-aḫ"), the name of the temple complex of the god Ptah at Memphis. As the chief temple precinct of the capital of Egypt, the name was applied to the entire city of Memphis and ultimately to the country as a whole.

A similar situation is observed in the name "Memphis" [Greek Μέμφις] , which comes from the Egyptian name of the pyramid complex of king Pepi II, "mn nfr ppy" (lit. "Established in Perfection or 'Beauty' is Pepy") at Saqqara but which was applied to the nearby capital city. Interestingly, this usage survived in Sahidic as "Gupton" and "Kupton", meaning "Memphis". In modern Egyptian Arabic, Cairo is usually called "Masr" (Egyptian Arabic: مَصر), which is also the name of Egypt.

There is another theory which states that the Arabic word Unicode|"qibṭ" "Copt" was an Arabisation of the Greek name of the town of Κόπτος "Coptos" (modern قفط Unicode|"Qifṭ"; Coptic "Kebt" and "Keft"), but is generally no longer accepted.

References to "Copts" in the Coptic language are both Greek and Coptic in origin. The words "kuptaion" (Sahidic) and "kubti" (Bohairic) are attested, but are used in the surviving texts to refer to the language, rather than the people; these both derive from Greek Αἴγύπτιος "aiguptios" "Egyptian". The Coptic term for the word "Egyptian" is "rem en kēme" (Sahidic) Coptic|ⲣⲙⲛⲕⲏⲙⲉ, "lem en kēmi" (Fayyumic), "rem en khēmi" (Bohairic) Coptic|ⲣⲉⲙ'ⲛⲭⲏⲙⲓ , etc., literally "people of Egypt"; cf. Egyptian "Unicode|rmṯ n kmt", Demotic "rmt n kmỉ".

The etymological meaning of the word therefore pertains to all people of Egyptian origins, not only those who profess Coptic Orthodoxy. Medieval writers before the Mamluk period often used the words Copts (Arabic: قبط) and Egyptians (Arabic: مصريون) interchangeably to describe all the people of Egypt whether Christian or Muslim. After the bulk of the Egyptian population converted to Islam, the word Copt came to be associated with Egyptians who retained their Christianity. In the 20th century, some Egyptian nationalists and intellectuals began using the term Copts in the historical sense. For example, Markos Pasha Semeika, founder of the Coptic Museum, addressed a group of Egyptian students in these words: "All of you are Copts. Some of you are Muslim Copts, others are Christian Copts, but all of you are descended from the Ancient Egyptians". [qtd. in M. Hussein. "el Ittigahat el Wataneyya fil Adab el Unicode|Muʻaṣir" [National Trends in Modern Literature] . Vol. 2. Cairo, 1954]


The Copts are one of the oldest Christian communities in the Middle East. Although integrated in the larger Egyptian nation, the Copts have survived as a distinct religious community forming around 10 - 20% of the population, [ [ IPS News] (retrieved 09-27-2008)] [ [ Washington Institute for Near East Policy (Citing pop. estimates)] ] [ [] The Christian Post. Accessed 28 September, 2008.] [ [ NLG Solutions] . "Egypt". Accessed 28 September, 2008.] though estimates vary (see Religion in Egypt). They pride themselves on the apostolicity of the Egyptian Church whose founder was the first in an unbroken chain of patriarchs.

Foundation of the Egyptian Christian Church

According to ancient tradition, Christianity was introduced to the Egyptians by Saint Mark in Alexandria, shortly after the ascension of Christ and during the reign of the Roman emperor Claudius around 42 A.D. [ Eusebius of Caesarea, the author of Ecclesiastical History in the fourth century, states that st. Mark came to Egypt in the first or third year of the reign of Emperor Claudius, i.e. 41 or 43 A.D. "Two Thousand years of Coptic Christianity" Otto F.A. Meinardus p28. ] . The legacy that Saint Mark left in Egypt was a considerable Christian community in Alexandria. From Alexandria, Christianity spread throughout Egypt within half a century of Saint Mark's arrival in Alexandria, as is clear from a fragment of the Gospel of John, written in Coptic, which was found in Upper Egypt and can be dated to the first half of the second century, and the New Testament writings found in Oxyrhynchus, in Middle Egypt, which date around the year 200 A.D. In the second century, Christianity began to spread to the rural areas, and scriptures were translated into the local language, today known as the Coptic language (which was called "the Egyptian language" at the time). By the beginning of the 3rd century A.D., Christians constituted the majority of Egypt’s population, and the Church of Alexandria was recognized as one of Christendom's four Apostolic Sees, second in honor only to the Church of Rome. [] The Church of Alexandria is therefore the oldest church in Africa.

Contributions to Christianity

The Egyptians contributed immensely to the formation of the worldwide Christian mind. To name a few examples, the Catechetical School of Alexandria was the oldest catechetical school in the world. Founded around 190 A.D. by the scholar Pantanaeus, the school of Alexandria became an important institution of religious learning, where students were taught by scholars such as Athenagoras, Clement, Didymus, and the great Origen, who was considered the father of theology and who was also active in the field of commentary and comparative Biblical studies. However, the scope of this school was not limited to theological subjects; science, mathematics and humanities were also taught there. The question-and-answer method of commentary began there, and 15 centuries before Braille, wood-carving techniques were in use there by blind scholars to read and write.

Another major contribution made by the Egyptians to Christianity was the creation and organization of monasticism. The most prominent figures of the monastic movement were Anthony the Great, Paul of Thebes, Macarius the Great, Shenouda the Archimandrite and Pachomius the Cenobite. By the end of the fifth century, there were hundreds of monasteries, and thousands of cells and caves scattered throughout the Egyptian desert. Worldwide Christian monasticism stems, either directly or indirectly, from the Egyptian example. Thus, Saint Basil the Great Archbishop of Caesarea Mazaca, and the founder and organiser of the monastic movement in Asia Minor, visited Egypt around 357 A.D. and his monastic rules are followed by the Eastern Orthodox Churches; Saint Jerome, who translated the Bible into Latin, came to Egypt while en route to Jerusalem around 400 A.D. and left details of his experiences in his letters; and Saint Benedict founded the Benedictine Order in the sixth century on the model of Saint Pachomius, although in a stricter form. Countless pilgrims have visited the Egyptian Desert Fathers to emulate their spiritual, disciplined lives.

The Ecumenical Councils

The Egyptians also played a major role in the first three Ecumenical councils. Thus, the Council of Nicaea (325 AD) was presided over by Pope Alexander of Alexandria, along with Saint Hosius of Córdoba. In addition, the most prominent figure of the council was the future Pope of Alexandria Athanasius, who played the major role in the formulation of the Nicene Creed, recited today in all Christian churches of different denominations. One of the council's decisions was to entrust the Pope of Alexandria with calculating and annually announcing the exact date of Easter to the rest of the Christian churches. The Council of Constantinople (381 AD) was presided over by Pope Timothy of Alexandria, while the Council of Ephesus (431 AD) was presided over by Pope Cyril of Alexandria. Undoubtedly, the fact that the first three Ecumenical councils in the history of Christianity were headed by Egyptian patriarchs attested to the major contributions that the See of Alexandria has contributed to the establishment of early Christian theology and dogma.

Council of Chalcedon

In 451 A.D., following the Council of Chalcedon, the Church of Alexandria was divided into two branches. Those who accepted the terms of the Council became known as Chalcedonians or Melkites. Those who did not abide by the Council's terms were labeled non-Chalcedonians or Monophysites (and later "Jacobites" after Jacob Baradaeus). The non-Chalcedonians, however, rejected the term Monophysites as erroneous and insisted on being called Miaphysites. The majority of the Egyptians belonged to the Miaphysite branch, which led to their persecution by the Byzantines in Egypt.

The Arab-Muslim Invasion of Egypt

In 641 A.D., Egypt was invaded by the Arabs who faced off with the Byzantine army, but found little to no resistance from the native Egyptian population. Local resistance by the Egyptians however began to materialize shortly thereafter and would last until at least the ninth century. [Mawaiz wa al-'i'tibar bi dhikr al-khitat wa al-'athar (2 vols., Bulaq, 1854), by Al-Maqrizi] [Chronicles, by John of Nikiû] Examples include the Revolt of the Beshmorites, a large-scale national resistance staged in the mid-eighth century in the Nile Delta. It was crushed by Marwan II, the Umayyad caliph. The last large-scale armed resistance of the Egyptians against the Arabs was towards the mid ninth century, which was brutally crushed by Al-Ma'mun, the Abbasid caliph. Local resistances against the Arabs and the Muslims remained through the 12th century, such as the 1176 revolt of the Christian inhabitants of Qift, which was promptly suppressed by Al-Adil, brother of Saladin, who hanged nearly 3000 Copts on the trees around the city.

The Arabs imposed a special tax, known as Jizya, on the Christians who acquired the status of dhimmis, and all native Egyptians were prohibited from joining the army. Egyptian converts to Islam in turn were relegated to the status of mawali. Heavy taxation was one of the reasons behind Egyptian organized resistance against the new occupying power, as well as the decline of the number of Christians in Egypt.

The Arabs in the 7th century seldom used the term "Egyptian", and used instead the term "Copt" to describe the people of Egypt. Thus, Egyptians became known as "Copts", and the non-Chalcedonian Egyptian Church became known as the Coptic Church. The Chalcedonian Church remained known as the Melkite Church. In their own native language, Egyptians referred to themselves as "rem-en-kimi", which translates into "those of Egypt". Religious life remained largely undisturbed following the Arab occupation, as evidence by the rich output of Coptic arts in monastic centers in Old Cairo (Fustat) and throughout Egypt. Conditions, however, worsened shortly after that, and in the eighth and ninth centuries, during the period of the great national resistance against the Arabs, Muslim rulers banned the use of human forms in art (taking advantage of an iconoclastic conflict in Byzantium) and consequently destroyed many Coptic paintings and frescoes in churches. [Kamil, p. 41]

The Fatimid period of Islamic rule in Egypt was tolerant with the exception of the violent persecutions of caliph Al-Hakim. The Fatimid rulers employed Copts in the government and participated in Coptic and local Egyptian feasts. Major renovation and reconstruction of churches and monasteries were also undertaken. Coptic arts flourished, reaching new heights in Middle and Upper Egypt. [Kamil, op cit.] Persecution of Egyptian Christians, however, reached a peak in the early Mamluk period following the Crusader wars. Many forced conversions of Christians took place. Monasteries were occasionally raided and destroyed by marauding Bedouin, but were rebuilt and reopened.

Copts in modern Egypt

The position of the Copts did not begin to improve until the rule of Muhammad Ali in the early 19th century, who abolished the Jizya and allowed Egyptians (Copts as well as Muslims) to enroll in the army. Conditions continued to improve throughout the nineteenth century under the leadership of the great reformer Pope Cyril IV, and in the first half of the twentieth century (known as the "Golden Age" by the Copts) during Egypt's liberal period. Copts participated in the Egyptian national movement for independence and occupied many influential positions. Two significant cultural achievements include the founding of the Coptic Museum in 1910 and the Higher Institute of Coptic Studies in 1954. Some prominent Coptic thinkers from this period are Salama Moussa, Louis Awad and Secretary General of the Wafd Party Makram Ebeid. Following the 1952 coup d'état by the Free Officers, the conditions of the Copts have been slowly deteriorating and their human rights are often violated.

Today, members of the non-Chalcedonian Coptic Orthodox Church constitute the majority of the Egyptian Christian population. Mainly through emigration and partly through European, American, and other missionary work and conversions, the Egyptian Christian community now also includes other Christian denominations such as Protestants (known in Arabic as Evangelicals), Roman and Eastern Rite Catholics, and other Orthodox congregations. The term "Coptic" remains exclusive however to the Egyptian natives, as opposed to the Christians of non-Egyptian origins. Some Protestant churches for instance are called "Coptic Evangelical Church", thus helping differentiate their native Egyptian congregations from churches attended by non-Egyptian immigrant communities such as Europeans or Americans.

In 2005 a group of Coptic activists created a flag to represent Copts worldwide [ [ The Free Copts - The Coptic Flag, Meanings and Colors ] ] . This flag is not officially recognized by the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria.

Human rights

Religious freedom in Egypt is hampered to varying degrees by discriminatory and restrictive government policies. Coptic Christians, being the largest religious minority in Egypt, are also negatively affected. Copts have faced increasing marginalization after the 1952 coup d'état led by Gamal Abdel Nasser. Until recently, Christians were required to obtain presidential approval for even minor repairs in churches. Although the law was eased in 2005 by handing down the authority of approval to the governors, Copts continue to face many obstacles in building new churches. These obstacles are not as much in building mosques. [WorldWide Religious News. [ Church Building Regulations Eased] . December 13, 2005.] [Compass Direct News. [ Church Building Regulations Eased] . December 13, 2005.]

Coptic community has been targeted by hate crimes and physical assaults. The most significant was the 2000-2001 El Kosheh attacks, In which Muslims and Christians were being involved in bloody inter-religious clashes following a dispute between a Muslim and a Christian. "Twenty Christians and one Muslim were killed after violence broke out in the town of el-Kosheh, 440 kilometres (275 miles) south of Cairo".cite web|url=|title= “Egyptian court orders clashes retrial”|date=July 30, 2001|publisher=BBC News] In 2006, one person who was both drunk and mad, attacked three churches in Alexandria left one dead and from 5 to 16 injured, although the attacker was not linked to any organisation.cite web | last = Miles | first = Hugh| title= Coptic Christians attacked in churches| publisher= The Telegraph | date=April 15, 2006 | url=|accessdate=2008-10-07] BBC. [ Egypt church attacks spark anger] , April 15, 2006.]

Boutros Boutros-Ghali is a Copt who served as Egypt's "acting" foreign minister twice under President Anwar Sadat (1977 and 1978 - 1979). [] Although Boutros Boutros-Ghali later became the United Nations Secretary-General, his appointment as an only "acting" foreign minister depicted Egypt's systematic elimination of Copts from all governmental influential positions. Today, only two Copts are on Egypt's governmental cabinet: Finance Minister Youssef Boutros Ghali and Environment Minister Magued George. There is also currently one Coptic governor out of 25, that of the Upper Egyptian governorate of Qena, and the first Coptic governor in a few decades. In addition, Naguib Sawiris, an extremely successful businessman and one of the world's 100 wealthiest people, is a Copt. In 2002, under the Mubarak government, Coptic Christmas (January the 7th) was recognized as an official holiday. [ [ Copts welcome Presidential announcement on Eastern Christmas Holiday] . December 20, 2002.] however, many Copts continue to complain of being minimally represented in law enforcement, state security and public office, and of being discriminated against in the workforce on the basis of their religion. [Freedom House. [ Egypt's Endangered Christians.] ] [Human Rights Watch. [ Egypt: Overview of human rights issues in Egypt] . 2005]

While freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Egyptian constitution, according to Human Rights Watch, "Egyptians are able to convert to Islam generally without difficulty, but Muslims who convert to Christianity face difficulties in getting new identity papers and some have been arrested for allegedly forging such documents. [ [ Human Rights Watch. World report 2007: Egypt] .] The Coptic community, however, takes pains to prevent conversions from Christianity to Islam due to the ease with which Christians can often become Muslim. [ [ EGYPT: NATIONAL UNITY AND THE COPTIC ISSUE] . 2004] Public officials, being conservative themselves, intensify the complexity of the legal procedures required to recognize the religion change as required by law. Security agencies will sometimes claim that such conversions from Islam to Christianity (or occasionally vice versa) may stir social unrest, and thereby justify themselves in wrongfully detaining the subjects, insisting that they are simply taking steps to prevent likely social troubles from happening. [ [ Egypt: Egypt Arrests 22 Muslim converts to Christianity] . November 03, 2003] In 2007, a Cairo administrative court denied 45 citizens the right to obtain identity papers documenting their reversion to Christianity after converting to Islam. [Shahine, Gihan. [ "Fraud, not Freedom".] Ahram Weekly, 3 - May 9, 2007] However, in February 2008 the Supreme Administrative Court overturned the decision, allowing 12 citizens who had reverted back to Christianity to re-list their religion on identity cards,cite web | last = Audi | first = Nadim | title= Egyptian Court Allows Return to Christianity | publisher= New York Times | date= February 11, 2008 | url = | accessdate=2008-10-07] [Associated Press. [ Egypt court upholds right of converted Muslims to return to Christianity] . 2008-02-09.] but they will specify that they had adopted Islam for a brief period of time. [AFP. [ Egypt allows converts to revert to Christianity on ID] . February, 2008.]


The Coptic language is the last stage of the Egyptian language.

Today, Coptic is the liturgical language of the Egyptian Church and is also taught in Egypt and worldwide in many prestigious institutions. Dialects of Coptic language:
*Sahidic: Theban or Upper Egyptian.
*Bohairic: The dialect of the Nile Delta and of the medieval and modern Coptic Church.
*Lycopolitan (also known as Subakhmimic)


The Coptic calendar, also called the Alexandrian calendar, is used by the Coptic Orthodox Church and also by Ethiopia as its official calendar (with different names). This calendar is based on the ancient Egyptian calendar. To avoid the calendar creep of the latter, a reform of the ancient Egyptian calendar was introduced at the time of Ptolemy III (Decree of Canopus, in 238 BC) which consisted of the intercalation of a sixth epagomenal day every fourth year. However, this reform was opposed by the Egyptian priests, and the idea was not adopted until 25 BC, when the Roman Emperor Augustus formally reformed the calendar of Egypt, keeping it forever synchronized with the newly introduced Julian calendar. To distinguish it from the Ancient Egyptian calendar, which remained in use by some astronomers until medieval times, this reformed calendar is known as the Coptic calendar. Its years and months coincide with those of the Ethiopian calendar but have different numbers and names.

Coptic year

The Coptic year is the extension of the ancient Egyptian civil year, retaining its subdivision into the three seasons, four months each. The three seasons are commemorated by special prayers in the Coptic Liturgy. This calendar is still in use all over Egypt by farmers to keep track of the various agricultural seasons. The Coptic calendar has 13 months, 12 of 30 days each and an intercalary month at the end of the year of 5 or 6 days, depending whether the year is a leap year or not. The year starts on 29 August in the Julian Calendar or on the 30th in the year before (Julian) Leap Years. The Coptic Leap Year follows the same rules as the Julian Calendar so that the extra month always has six days in the year before a Julian Leap Year.

The Feast of Neyrouz marks the first day of the Coptic year. Its celebration falls on the 1st day of the month of Thout, the first month of the Coptic year, which for AD 1901 to 2098 usually coincides with 11 September, except before a Gregorian leap year when it's September 12. Coptic years are counted from AD 284, the year Diocletian became Roman Emperor, whose reign was marked by tortures and mass executions of Christians, especially in Egypt. Hence, the Coptic year is identified by the abbreviation A.M. (for "Anno Martyrum" or "Year of the Martyrs"). The A.M. abbreviation is also used for the unrelated Jewish year ("Anno Mundi").

Every fourth Coptic year is a leap year "without exception", as in the Julian calendar, so the above mentioned new year dates apply only between AD 1900 and 2099 inclusive in the Gregorian Calendar. In the Julian Calendar, the new year is "always" 29 August, except before a Julian leap year when it's August 30. Easter is reckoned by the Julian Calendar in the Old Calendarist way.

To obtain the Coptic year number, subtract from the Julian year number either 283 (before the Julian new year) or 284 (after it).

[ More Information on the Coptic Calendar]

Prominent Copts

Many Copts are internationally renowned. Some of the most well known Copts include Boutros Boutros-Ghali the sixth Secretary-General of the United Nations, Sir Magdi Yacoub an internationally renowned heart surgeon, Hani Azer, a world leading civil engineer, and billionaire Fayez Sarofim, one of the richest men in America and the world.

Related words

* From the Greek word Αίγυπτος "Aiguptos" or "Aigyptos", the name for "Egypt" in many European languages was derived.
* The word Unicode|"qabāṭī" "قباطي", a kind of textile import from Egypt and which was used to cover the Kaaba since before Islam, is derived from Arabic قبط Unicode|"qubṭ".
* The English word "gypsy" is derived from the Middle English "egypcien" meaning "Egyptian". Likewise, the Spanish word "gitano", also meaning "gypsy", derives from a common Latin source. This is due to the mistaken belief that Gypsies were of Egyptian origin. "Gypsy" and the (probably) related term, "gyp" ("to swindle or cheat") are generally viewed as being pejorative; see the article "Roma (people)".
* In modern Egyptian Arabic, the word "koftes" (pl. "kafatsa"), is a pejorative word used colloquially to refer to Christians. It is perhaps an Egyptianised form of the Latin "Coptus", under phonetic and linguistic factors different from those which existed when Unicode|"qubṭ" was derived from Greek "aiguptios". This, however, seems unlikely.
*Medieval sources mention one of the sons of "Mitzrayim", who in turn descended from the Biblical Noah, as a possible source for the word 'Copt'.

See also

* Aigyptos, in Greek mythology
* Alexandria Quartet
* Coptic Orthodox Church
* Coptic Catholic Church
* Coptic flag
* Coptic language
* Coptic Museum
* Coptic Saints
* Coptology
* Egypt
* Egyptians
* Egyptian diaspora
* List of prominent Copts
* , currently in incubator stage


* Courbage, Youssef and Phillipe Fargues. Judy Mabro (Translator) "Christians and Jews Under Islam", 1997.
* Denis, E. (2000). "Cent ans de localisation de la population chrétienne égyptienne". Astrolabe(2).
* Kamil, Jill. "Coptic Egypt: History and a Guide." Revised Ed. American University in Cairo Press, 1990.
* [ The Coptic Calendar by Bishoy K. R. Dawood] (1.29MB pdf file – historical development and technical discussion)
* [ An introduction to the Coptic calendar] (Gregorian equivalents are valid only between 1900 and 2099)
* [ The Orthodox Ecclesiastical Calendar]
* [ Ancient Egyptian Calendar and Coptic Calendar]


External links

* [ Coptic Cairo]
* [ Coptic Orthodox Church Network]
* [ Copts]
* [ Copts United]
* [ Free Copts]
* [ Coptic Museum]
* [ In Search of the Lost Egyptian Identity]
* [ Egypt's Copts After Kosheh]
* [ Egypt: Minorities and the State]
* [ International Religious Freedom Report: Egypt]
* [ United Copts of Great Britain]
* [ Coptic Orthodox Church in Denmark]
* [ Coptic Orthodox Church French texts]
* [ AM Coptic Association]
* [ Association des Coptes d'Europe ] Coptic Association of Europe.
* [ Coptic Christians of Egypt- German Site]
* [ Coptic texts and manuscripts at Leiden University Library]

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  • copt — copt; heli·copt; …   English syllables

  • Copt. — «kopt», noun. 1. a native of Egypt descended from the ancient Egyptians. 2. a member of the Coptic Church. ╂[< New Latin Coptus < Arabic Qubt the Copts < Coptic Gyptios an Egyptian < Greek Aigýptios] Copt., Coptic …   Useful english dictionary

  • Copt — native monophosyte Christian of Egypt, 1610s, from Mod.L. Coptus, from Arabic quft, probably from Coptic gyptios, from Gk. Agyptios Egyptian. Arabic has no p and often substitutes f or b for it. Related: Coptic …   Etymology dictionary

  • Copt — ► NOUN 1) a native Egyptian in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. 2) a member of the Coptic Church, the native Christian Church in Egypt. ORIGIN Latin Coptus, from Greek Aiguptios Egyptian …   English terms dictionary

  • Copt — [käpt] n. [ModL Coptus: see COPTIC] 1. an Egyptian who is a descendant of Egypt s ancient inhabitants 2. a member of the Coptic Church …   English World dictionary

  • copt — COPT1 s.n. Faptul de a (se) coace. ♢ expr. A da în copt = a începe sa se coacă, a se pârgui. – v. coace. Trimis de IoanSoleriu, 21.05.2004. Sursa: DEX 98  COPT2, COAPTĂ, copţi, coapte, adj. I. 1. (Despre alimente) Care a fost supus, fără apă sau …   Dicționar Român

  • Copt — Copts Copts (k[o^]pts ), n. pl.; sing. {Copt} (k[o^]pt). [See {Coptic}.] (Etnol.) 1. An Egyptian race thought to be descendants of the ancient Egyptians. [1913 Webster] 2. The principal sect of Christians in Egypt and the valley of the Nile.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Copt Oak — is a place in Leicestershire in England. It is in the North West Leicestershire district, near Bawdon Lodge, Charley and Ulverscroft. In its name, cop is an old English word for head , i.e. [be]headed oak = pollarded oak …   Wikipedia

  • Copt Hewick — The clock tower of Copt Hewick Village Hall Copt Hewick is a village and civil parish in the Harrogate district of North Yorkshire, England about two miles east of Ripon. It had a population of 180 in 2004 according to the North Yorkshire County… …   Wikipedia

  • copt-know —  the top of a conical hill, from COPT …   A glossary of provincial and local words used in England

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