Egypt has a rich history of religious diversity from the Jewish scholars of ancient Alexandria, to the pioneering Coptic Christian monks of the Middle Ages, to the Islamic legal experts at Cairo’s al-Azhar University today. However, since the beginning of Arab Spring in 2011, Egypt’s religious diversity has increasingly come under pressure.

 St. Anthony, Father of Egyptian Monasticism (Source: wikimedia)

With 107 million people, Egypt is the largest country in the Middle East and the third-largest in Africa.  Egyptian empires have been rising and falling since more than 3000 years before Christ, and Egypt today is a leader politically and culturally across the Middle East and in Africa.  Egypt has also been a center for Christianity since the early Church in the 1st Century.  Although Christians are only about a tenth of modern Egypt’s population, they are by far the largest Christian community in the Middle East.

Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) recognizes the religious importance of the Middle East to Jews, Christians, and Muslims; and works to protect religious freedom, as well as supporting measures to ensure the viability of the historic Christian community.

Egypt has been ruled by then General and now President Abdul Fattah Said
al-Sisi since the July 3, 2013 coup.  The economy is in trouble, and in March 2022 Egypt applied to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for assistance.  Egypt has major human rights problems.  For example, human rights groups and international observers maintain that the Egyptian government is detaining or imprisoning between 20,000 and 60,000 persons solely or chiefly because of their political beliefs or activities.  In March 2021, 32 states condemned human rights violations in Egypt at the UN Human Rights Council. There is also an ongoing conflict in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

CMEP is very concerned about discrimination against Christians and other religious minorities in Egypt. CMEP is committed to the building of inclusive societies based on citizenship rights where persons of all religions can live in harmony and peace.

Religious freedom conditions in Egypt are trending tentatively in a positive direction. The country has seen a decrease in radical Islamist violence and anti-Christian mob attacks, some progress in implementing the registration process for unlicensed churches and related buildings, and the launch of a government program to address religious intolerance in rural areas. However, systematic and ongoing religious inequalities remain affixed in the Egyptian state and society, and various forms of religious bigotry and discrimination continue to plague the country’s Coptic Christians and other religious minorities.  In April 2022, a Coptic priest was killed in Alexandria.  In January 2022 nine Copts were arrested for protesting the lack of permits to rebuild their churches.

CMEP believes that working toward a just and lasting solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not only serve the cause of peace and justice in the Holy Land but also promote peace in the Middle East region in general, including Egypt.

Egypt has diplomatic relations with both Palestine and Israel and has often been a key intermediary in diplomatic efforts to gain peace between them.  Egypt is not a member of the Abraham Accords, but it has hosted meetings that bring together leaders from Israel and countries in the Arab world such as the March 2022 Egypt-Israel-UAE summit.  Egypt is a Major Non-NATO Ally of the U.S. for defense trade and security cooperation.

 Map of Egypt (Source: Wikipedia)

 Facts at a Glance

 President: Abdul Fattah Said al-Sisi
 Population: 107,770,524 (2022 est.)
 Languages: Arabic 99.6%, other 0.4% (2017 est.)
 Religions: Islam 90%, Christianity 10% (2017 est.)
 Christian Community: 8.9 million (2017 est.) including Coptic   Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Maronite Catholic, Anglican, and   Evangelical Christians
 Refugee Population: 210,865 (2016)



Hands Along the Nile does important work building relationships between Americans and Egyptians in order to raise the quality of life for the most under-served members of their society.

CMEP is very grateful for our partnerships. However, CMEP does not necessarily agree with all the positions of our partners and they do not speak on CMEP’s behalf.




Human Rights Issues






    • World Report 2021 – Egypt section, Human Rights Watch, Mar 2022. Annual HRW compendium on Egypt, useful for its links on individual events and items as well as being a summary of the year.



    • Egyptian authorities must repeal the outrageous NGO law, a joint public letter from the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), Amnesty International, and 16 other Egyptian and international human rights organizations, Jan 2022. The position of those opposing Egypt’s new (2019) NGO Law.





Egypt’s Christians











Egypt’s Role in Palestinian-Israeli Conflict



    • Egypt: Background and U.S. Relations, Congressional Research Service, Sep 2021. A comprehensive analysis of Egypt’s part in Middle East peacemaking and the impact on US policy toward Egypt.


    • Explaining Egypt’s Role during the Gaza War, Arab Center Washington DC, Jun 2021. Analyzing Egypt’s pivotal mediation ending the 2021 Israel-Gaza war in the context of Egypt’s historical role in Arab-Israeli negotiations.







Counter-terrorism in Egypt





    • Christians Flee North Sinai Violence, Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, Mar 2017. Analysis of the start of ISIS Wilayat Sinai’s spread of terrorism outside Sinai in Egypt.