02 October 2018, The Tablet

Coptic Christians nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

The nomination recognises their refusal to retaliate, no matter how severe the persecution by Islamic State

Coptic Christians nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

Relatives of Egyptian Coptic Christians who were beheaded by IS in Libya in 2015 mourn over their portraits during their funeral mass
Photo: Ibrahim Hendy/dpa

Coptic Christians have been nominated for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for their refusal to retaliate against deadly and ongoing persecution from governments and terrorist groups in Egypt and elsewhere.

The Copts, the indigenous people of Egypt, are one of 331 nominees for the prestigious prize, won previously by organisations such as the Red Cross and Médecins sans Frontières, and individuals such as Malala Yousafzai, the youngest person ever to win it. Last year's winner was the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. The European Union won the prize ion 2012, Barack Obama in 2009, Jimmy Carter in 2002 and Archbishop Desmond Tutu in 1984.

There are believed to be around 20 million Copts worldwide. In Egypt they make up about 10 per cent of the population. If they win, they would be the first ethno-religious group to do so. They are also believed to be the first such group to be nominated. 

Although the Nobel committee itself does not release the list of nominees, the nomination was confirmed by Coptic Orphans, the US-based Christian development charity.

The recipient of the Peace Prize will be announced on October 5. The prize is awarded in December in Stockholm.

According to the 2018 Open Doors report on persecution of Christians around the world, Christians in Egypt face "unprecedented levels of persecution". Last year, 128 Egyptian Christians were killed for their faith and more than 200 were driven out of their homes.

In 2011, Coptic Christians in Cairo, Egypt, staged a peaceful protest after their church was demolished. Protesters were attacked by security forces and the army, resulting in 28 deaths and more than 200 injuries. Over 80 Coptic churches and institutions were burned following the 2013 coup in Egypt.

Islamic State pledged to extreminate the Copts. In 2015 the terror group beheaded 21 Coptic Christians in Libya. The account of one Coptic woman who lost two brothers in the beheading is told here.

"Despite this, Coptic Christians have consistently refused to retaliate and continue to practice peaceful coexistence. In recognition of this, Coptic Christians have been nominated for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize," said Coptic Orphans. 

The Copts trace their history to the earliest days of Christianity in Egypt. Christianity was introduced into present-day Egypt in 62 A.D. by St Mark, author of the Gospel of Mark, and founder of the Church of Alexandria. 

Today, the Copts are the largest Christian minority population in the Middle East, numbering anywhere between 7-15 million making up around 10 percent of the country's population.

Notable Copts include former United Nations Secretary General Boutros-Boutros Ghali, former Deputy National Security Advisor Dina Powell, and actor Rami Malek ("Mr Robot").


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