Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria

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Copts suffered under the rule of the Byzantine Eastern Roman Empire. The Melkite Patriarchs, appointed by the emperors as both spiritual leaders and civil governors, massacred the Egyptian population whom they considered heretics. Many Egyptians were tortured and martyred to accept the terms of Chalcedon, but Egyptians remained loyal to the faith of their fathers and to the Cyrillian view of Christology. One of the most renowned Egyptian saints of that period is Saint Samuel the Confessor.

Muslim conquest of Egypt

The Muslim invasion of Egypt took place in AD 639. Despite the political upheaval, the Egyptian population remained mainly Christian. However, the gradual conversions to Islam over the centuries changed Egypt from a Christian to a largely Muslim country by the end of the 12th century.[10]

During Islamic rule, the Copts were paying only one tax called the jizya. This tax was abolished in 1855 under the reign of Sa'id of Egypt of the house of Muhammad Ali. Copts had freedom in serving in the army under Islamic rule or not. This was also abolished during the era of the Muhammad Ali Dynasty.

From the 19th century to the 1952 revolution

Christians started to serve in the Egyptian army. The 1919 revolution in Egypt, the first grassroots display of Egyptian identity in centuries, stands as a witness to the homogeneity of Egypt's modern society with both its Muslim and Christian components.

Present day

The current Coptic Orthodox Pope of Alexandria and the Patriarch of All Africa on the Holy See of Saint Mark is Pope Shenouda III.

There are about 20 million Coptic Orthodox Christians in the world. Between 12 and 15 million of them are found in Egypt under the jurisdiction of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria.[11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21] There are also significant numbers in the diaspora in countries such as the United States of America, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, and Sudan. The number of Coptic Orthodox Christians in the diaspora is roughly 4 million.[22] In addition, there are between 350,000 and 400,000 native African adherents in East, Central and South Africa. Although under the jurisdiction of the Coptic Orthodox Church, these adherents are not considered Copts, since they are not ethnic Egyptians. Some accounts regard members of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (roughly 45 million),[23] the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church (roughly 2.5 million), as members of the Coptic Orthodox Church. This is however a misnomer, since both the Ethiopian and the Eritrean Churches, although daughter churches of the Church of Alexandria, are currently autocephalous churches. In 1959, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church was granted its first own Patriarch by Pope Cyril VI. Furthermore, the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church similarly became independent of the Ethiopian Tewahedo Church in 1994, when four bishops were consecrated by Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria to form the basis of a local Holy Synod of the Eritrean Church. In 1998, the Eritrean Church gained its autocephelacy from the Coptic Orthodox Church when its first Patriarch was enthroned by Pope Shenouda III of Alexandria.

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