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Coptic minority in Egypt
Mark the Evangelist- also known as Saint Mark, the author of the Gospel that bears his name- moved to Egypt around 43 B.C., 10 years after the death of Jesus, where he founded in the city of Alexandria the first Christian church in the country. We can say that the origin of the Coptic community dates back to the early years of Christianity as a religion.The word "Copt" is derived from the Greek word "Αίγυπτος" which literally means Egypt. The Copts of Egypt are the largest Christian community in the Middle East. They represent between 15 and 20% of the Egyptian population. Their number would range around twelve million people.Geographically, the Coptic community is not concentrated in specific regions or cities. However, a large percentage of Copts lives in southern Egypt, the least developed region of the country, though, the Coptic Church headquarters is located in Cairo.After the Arab invasion, Copts have suffered from marginalization, sometimes even repression, as they turn to be a minority, though they also experienced other shorter periods of tolerance and harmony with their Muslim compatriots.In general, coexistence between Christians and Muslims can be described as peaceful. But the last forty years have been the worst in the history of the community due to religious fundamentalism and violence. In response to these fundamentalist currents in society, the Copts were forced to isolate themselves in their community and reduce their participation in society. On the other hand, policies of oppression of the Mubarak regime have worsened relations between Muslims and Christians. During his 30 years of dictatorship Copts has witnessed more violence than ever. Since the beginning of the Arab Spring three churches in Egypt were burned as a result of fights between Muslims and Christians.During the thirties of last century, a group of Coptic migrants from Upper Egypt settled near Mount al-Moqattam, and which today is responsible for garbage collecting in the city of Cairo where almost twenty million inhabitants live. For generations these garbage collectors have done a vital job for the city of Cairo despite being the most despised group in the Egyptian society. What is most amazing, despite the appalling conditions of their job; this group recycles 80 percent of the collected waste, while other companies working in the same field are hardly recycling 20 percent of the trash. Their work is considered the most environmentally efficient operation in the world.A real paradox of the place where this group is living and working is the Church of the Cave, or the Church of St. Simon the Tanner. This church was carved into several caves and today is one of the most famous and visited churches in the country. It is a spiritual oasis surrounded by piles of garbage.
 
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