As a Christian and an Egyptian, I was heartbroken by the New Year’s Eve terrorist attack on the Coptic Church of Alexandria that killed 21 of my countrymen. Whether this heinous act was carried out by Egyptians or by terrorist groups from outside the country, the intention was surely the same: to sow discord between Muslims and Christians in a country long known for its religious tolerance.

The attack seems to fall within a larger pattern of violence against Christians elsewhere in the Middle East. Indeed, extremist groups that target Christians in Iraq explicitly stated their intention to bring their war against Christians to Egypt.

But while the recent attack led to an outpouring of anger among Copts, Egypt—unlike other countries in the region—has been remarkably immune to the scourge of sectarianism.

The Copts in Egypt are the largest Christian population in the Middle East, and today they make up some 10% of the population. Christians in Egypt exercise their faith freely, and they occupy leading positions in government, business and public life. There’s no such thing as “Muslim neighborhoods” or “Christian ghettos” in Egypt.

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