Thanks to amazing finds by archaeologists over the years we've learned a few things about the daily life of ancient Egyptians, including their religious practices. And as the King Tut exhibit travels around the United States we're learning about some unpleasant practices regarding the daily life of contemporary Egyptians, especially their religious life.
In Chicago a group of Egyptian—American Copts protested at the opening of the King Tut exhibit to draw attention to the plight of their brethren in Egypt, who constitute about 12% of the Egyptian population.
Discrimination and human rights abuses against Coptic Christians remain widespread in Egypt, according to a report released this month by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Copts face societal intolerance, and Egyptian authorities have been accused of being lax in protecting their rights.
No Christians serve as governors, presidents or deans of public universities, and very few Christians hold positions in the upper ranks of the security services and the armed forces, Coptic community leaders said. A 14th Century law bars Christians not only from building new churches, they said, but also from performing necessary maintenance on structures without government approval.
Recent violence in Coptic churches in Egypt has renewed fears of escalating religious strife. In April, a Muslim man was accused of knife attacks at three Coptic Christian churches in Alexandria that left one man dead and about a dozen others wounded. The incident unleashed three days of rioting on the same weekend Christians were observing Orthodox Palm Sunday.
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