60 Minutes: The Coptic Christians of Egypt

The Coptic Christians of Egypt

Turmoil in Egypt has led to one of the worst persecutions of the country’s Coptic Christians in their nearly 2,000-year history

CBS News — Think of Egypt and the first thing that comes to mind is not Christianity. But Egypt is home to the Copts, one of the world’s oldest Christian communities, with roots dating back to the time of Christ himself. Back then, the word “Copt” meant, simply, “Egypt”. But after the advent of Islam, it came to mean “the Christians of Egypt” and the name has stuck.

Copts have never had it easy there. They’ve been persecuted and discriminated against by the Muslim majority for centuries. They’d hoped the Egyptian revolution would change that. But it hasn’t. Instead, the last year has been one of their worst ever. Copts have been murdered by Islamic extremists. Dozens of their churches have been gutted. But we’re going to begin our story before the onset of these horrors — with a Coptic rite we witnessed, one of the most unusual events in all Christianity.

CBS News

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