Egypt's Copts: A closer look at Coptic Christianity

Egyptian Copts have been thrust into the global spotlight since a New Year’s attack on a Coptic church in Alexandria, Egypt, killed more than 20 people. Though often overlooked in a predominantly Muslim region, the Coptic Orthodox Church is the main Christian denomination in Egypt, with more than 7 million Copts.

Ali Jarekji/Reuters
The King Abdullah Mosque is pictured next to a Coptic Church in Amman, Jordan, Jan. 5. The church held a mass for victims of the January 1 attack on an Orthodox Coptic church in Alexandria.

Part of the Oriental Orthodox tradition

The Coptic Orthodox Church is one of several churches in Oriental Orthodoxy, which is not to be confused with Eastern Orthodoxy. It shares many of the same beliefs of those churches, which also include the Syriac and Armenian church.

Oriental Orthodox churches split from the Western and Eastern Orthodox churches at the Council of Chalcedon in the 5th century over theological differences. The Coptic Church is led by its own pope, who is based in Cairo. Coptic services are conducted in the Coptic language, a derivative of ancient Egyptian language, and local languages.

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