This essay features scenes of religious life for Copts in the weeks surrounding Easter, just months before the 2013 revolution, in a time of relative peace and quiet for the community.
The fall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in 2011 presented a possible path forward for democracy and openness in Egypt. At 10% of the Egyptian population, Coptic Christians are the largest religious minority group in the country and in the past faced some persecution.
On New Years Eve 2011, just prior to the revolution, a bomb exploded outside the Alexandria Coptic Orthodox Church killing 23 and injuring more than 70 people. Violence would continue to escalate over the next two years culminating in October of 2011.
In the month prior to the 2013 revolution, Copts I spoke to felt things were “better under Mubarak” and were uneasy at the fact they could be targeted at any time. That concern was heightened as the community approached the celebration of Easter in May of 2013.
Though the holiday passed without violence, months later dozens of churches in Egypt would again be burned to the ground.