Coptic diaspora

The Coptic diaspora (Coptic: ϯⲇⲓⲁⲥⲡⲟⲣⲁ `ⲛⲣⲉⲙⲛⲭⲏⲙⲓ) consists of Copts who live outside of their primary area of residence within parts of present-day Egypt, Libya and Sudan.

Coptic diaspora
ϯⲇⲓⲁⲥⲡⲟⲣⲁ `ⲛⲣⲉⲙⲛⲭⲏⲙⲓ
Coptic diaspora map.png
Total population
1–2 million (estimates vary)
Regions with significant populations
 United Statesc. 100,000 to 300,000 (late 2010s estimate)[1]
 Canadac. 50,000 (1995 estimate); 10,000 (2001 estimate)[2][1]
 Australiac. 32,000 (2006)[1]
 United Kingdom25,000–30,000 (2006)[5]
 United Arab Emiratesc. 10,000[6]
 Jordan8,000+ (2005)[7]
 Lebanon3,000 – 4,000 (2012)[10]

The number of Copts outside Egypt has sharply increased since the 1960s. The largest Coptic diaspora populations are in the United States, in Canada and in Australia, but Copts have a presence in many other countries.


St. Mark Coptic Orthodox Church in Bellaire, Texas, in the United States.

Copts in Egypt make up about 10–20% of the population.[15]

Copts in Sudan make up about half a million or 1.5% of Sudanese population.[16]

There are about 60,000 Copts in Libya, 1% of Libyan population,[17] making up the majority of that country's Christian community.[18]

Outside of the traditional Coptic areas in Egypt, Sudan and Libya, the largest Coptic diaspora populations are in the United States, in Canada and in Australia.[19]

According to one scholar: "Estimations of the actual number of Egyptian Copts (and their descendants leaving abroad vary enormously, with those circulated by Coptic expatriate activists. The biggest Coptic community abroad, that of the United States, included up to 1,000,000 persons in the late 2010s according to Coptic advocacy groups, but only 300,000 according to the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United States itself, and even less—roughly between 100,000 and 200,000—according to the scarce statistical evidence supplied by the Egyptian and U.S. governments."[1] Smaller communities of Copts exist in Australia (estimated 32,000 in 2006)[1] and in Canada (estimates vary: one 2001 estimate placed the population at 10,000[1] while a 1995 estimate placed the population at 50,000[2]). Smaller communities (under 10,000 people) exist in Britain, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy.[1]

In 2009 one scholar placed the total Coptic population of North America at more than 500,000.[20]

In 1999, it was reported that there were "over eighty Coptic churches, two theological colleges, and a monastery in the United States in Canada; twenty-five churches, a theological college, three schools, and two monasteries in Australia, and thirty churches and two monasteries in Europe."[21]

There is also a Coptic presence in Lebanon and Jordan, and well as the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, such as the United Arab Emirates.[22] There is also a Coptic presence (due to recent missionary work) in the sub-Saharan African countries of Zambia, Kenya, Zaire, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and South Africa.[23]

Causes and history of the Coptic diasporaEdit

The Coptic diaspora began primarily in the 1950s as result of discrimination, persecution of Copts and low income in Egypt.[20][19][24][25] After Gamal Abdel Nasser rose to power, economic and social conditions deteriorated and many wealthier Egyptians, especially Copts, emigrated to Europe and the United States.[25][19] Emigration increased following the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, and the emigration of poorer and less-educated Copts increased after 1972, when the World Council of Churches and other religious groups began assisting Coptic immigration.[25] Emigration of Egyptian Copts increased under Anwar al-Sadat (with many taking advantage of Sadat's "open door" policy to leave the country) and under Hosni Mubarak.[19]

Many Copts are university graduates in the professions, such as medicine and engineering.[19]


According to Mariz Tadros, the discourse that refers to Copts as the original inhabitants of the land [Egypt] and others as having less claims to it, which she described as "supermacist and exclusionary", is adopted by some Copts living in the diaspora, such as Shawky Karas. However, she added that this discourse "doesn't have much currency, whether among the coptic intelligentsia in Egypt or among the Coptic population at large." On the other hand, the mainstream discourse adopted by Coptic historians presents a common Egyptian history binding together all Egyptians.[26]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Sebastian Elsässer, The Coptic Question in the Mubarak Era (Oxford University Press, 2014), p. 77.
  2. ^ a b Smith, Charles D. (2005). "The Egyptian Copts: Nationalism, Ethnicity, and Definition of Identity of a Religious Minority". In Shatzmiller, Maya (ed.). Nationalism and Minority Identities in Islamic Societies. McGill-Queen's University Press. p. 60 (giving 1995 estimate).CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  3. ^ "Kuwait". U.S. Department of State. November 8, 2005. Retrieved November 18, 2011.
  4. ^ Le religioni in Italia. La Chiesa Copta (Religions in Italy. Coptic Church)
  5. ^ Copts number at least 20,000 in Britain: "Security delays cause cancellation of Coptic Pope's UK visit". Archived from the original on 2009-01-21. Retrieved 2008-08-16. Additionally another 5,000–10,000 Copts are directly under the British Orthodox Church (1999 figures).
  6. ^ Teller, Matthew (12 July 2015). "Free to pray – but don't try to convert anyone". BBC. Retrieved 12 July 2015. Ten-thousand or more live in the UAE, and young, bearded priest Father Markos, 12 years in Dubai, told me his flock are 'more than happy – they enjoy their life, they are free.'
  7. ^ "King commends Coptic Church's role in promoting coexistence". The Embassy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Washington, D.C. June 3, 2005. Archived from the original on September 26, 2011. Retrieved November 18, 2011.
  8. ^ Come Across And Help Us Book 2 Archived October 8, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ CopticMission Archived January 31, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "Lebanon: Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor – 2012 Report on International Religious Freedom". U.S. Department of State. 20 May 2013. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  11. ^ Juan E. Campo & John Iskander, "The Coptic Community" in The Oxford Handbook of Global Religions (ed. Mark Juergensmeyer: Oxford University Press, 2006), p. 317.
  12. ^ "Egyptian Coptic protesters freed". BBC. 22 December 2004.
  13. ^ "Egypt". The World Factbook. CIA. Retrieved 27 August 2010.
  14. ^ Khairi Abaza and Mark Nakhla (25 October 2005). "The Copts and Their Political Implications in Egypt". Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
  15. ^ Independent estimates of the size of the Egyptian Coptic population vary. The Oxford Handbook of Global Religions reports: "There are conflicting estimates for the size of Egypt's Coptic population. As is often the case with minorities, official counts tend to underestimate their size, while the minority group inflates its own numbers."[11] The BBC reported in 2004 that Copts make up between 5% and 10% of the Egyptian population.[12] The CIA World Factbook reported a 2012 estimate that the Christian community in Egypt (including both Copts and non-Copts) is about 10%.[13] A 2005 report by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy reported that "Christians make up 10–20 percent of Egypt's population of seventy-seven million, though precise estimates of the number of Copts vary widely."[14]
  16. ^ Minority Rights Group International, World Directory of Minorities and Indigenous Peoples – Sudan : Copts, 2008, available at: [accessed 21 December 2010]
  17. ^ "Looklex Encyclopedia: 1% of Libya's population (6 million), or 60,000 people in Libya, adhere to the Coptic Orthodox faith". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2015-03-02.
  18. ^ Jason Morgan et al., Culture and Customs of Libya (ABC-CLIO, 2012), p. 40.
  19. ^ a b c d e "Diaspora, Copts in the" in The A to Z of the Coptic Church (ed. Gawdat Gabra: Scarecrow Press, 2009), pp. 91–92.
  20. ^ a b Seteney Shami, "'Aqualliyya/Minority in Modern Egyptian Discourse" in Words in Motion: Toward a Global Lexicon (eds. Carol Gluck & Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing: Duke University Press, 2009), p. 168.
  21. ^ Otto Friedrich August Meinardus, Two Thousand Years of Coptic Christianity (American University in Cairo Press: 1999), p. 81.
  22. ^ Otto Friedrich August Meinardus, Two Thousand Years of Coptic Christianity (American University in Cairo Press: 1999), p. 129.
  23. ^ Otto Friedrich August Meinardus, Two Thousand Years of Coptic Christianity (American University in Cairo Press: 1999), p. 123.
  24. ^ Afe Adogame, The African Christian Diaspora: New Currents and Emerging Trends in World Christianity (A & C Black, 2013), p. 72.
  25. ^ a b c Ken Parry, The Blackwell Companion to Eastern Christianity (John Wiley & Sons, 2010), p. 107.
  26. ^ Tadros, Mariz (2013). Copts at the Crossroads: The Challenges of Building Inclusive Democracy in Contemporary Egypt. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-977-416-591-7.

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