Coptic societies have been dedicating all their efforts to an international media campaign. They addressed a message of complaint to the world about what they considered an insult to one of their holy shrines after an Egyptian paper published photographs of a monk in indecent posses back in June 2001.
Coptic societies starting with Ottawa, through Washington D.C., and across the Pacific to the center of Europe expressed the opinion that Copts are a persecuted minority in Egypt, not receiving any blessedness! Despite national support from the Copts and the Egyptian people’s public conviction [of it being incident,] the closure of Al-Nabaa, and its editor-in-chief’s trial in a court of law, the case have been turned into a human rights issue. Coptic efforts are now trying to drag it into a more dangerous area, inviting external parties to apply pressure on the Egyptian government, something President Mubarak rejected in a speech on July 9, stressing that "any external pressures or solutions" to the Coptic minority problem were rejected.
Mubarak assured a press conference that "we treat our brothers the Copts and even the Jews in Egypt as Egyptian citizens. This is the rule. Everyone is free to believe. With regards to the Egyptian citizen, we are aware of his problems and do not set them aside, be they Muslims, Christians, or Jews. We will not accept pressures from outside [Egypt.]"
However, the Copts consider Mubarak to be the president with the least concern for their problems. He does not visit their churches, and never attends their celebrations, they claim.
The Copts, officially estimated to be 5.8 million among 66 million Egyptians, or
10 million according to the church, have clashed with Egyptian security as part of their campaign. 40 security officers and 30 of the 10,000 young Coptic demonstrators were slightly injured.
For Egyptian public opinion, the Coptic demands are considered to be too much for
an Islamic state, especially as a number of these demands are against Islamic Shari’a [law.] The Copts demand Muslim females be allowed to marry Christians, the preventing of Christian women joining Islam, and broadcasting Christian (missionary) programs on Egyptian national television. Among others, these demands cannot be allowed by the Egyptian public or parliament as they oppose Islamic Shari’a.
But are all the Coptic demands prohibited by Islam? The fact is that some cannot be considered in this way... Still, they cannot be enforced. The Copts want to be recognized as a minority and thus have rights independently and not as part of the Egyptian people. They demand a fixed percentage of Copts fill posts in government institutions and the education system, in addition to other sectors. They also demand the same rights for mosques and churches.
Observers consider such demands as "giving them privileged identity" apart from the Egyptian people, something they think is more harmful than good for the Copts themselves. [They argue] that the Egyptian system grants Copts the same [rights and liabilities] as Muslim citizens. According to some observers, this campaign will only bring the Copts more trouble, more confrontations with the government, and state agencies.