(RNS) Once again, Egypt’s Copts are in the news; once again, as the victims of violence. On Palm Sunday (April 9), bombs exploded in two churches, including one in Alexandria where the Coptic pope had been delivering the liturgy. Scores of people were killed, and many others were wounded. So who are the Copts and why are they persecuted?
Who are the Copts?
The Copts are the largest Christian community in North Africa and the Middle East, and one of the oldest Christian sects in the world. The church is officially known as the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria and was founded by the Apostle Mark in the year 42.
Copts are an Oriental Orthodox church, which means they differ doctrinally from churches in the Eastern Orthodox family and from the Roman Catholic Church. Other Oriental Orthodox churches are found in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Syria and Armenia.