Diaspora

A diaspora presence for the Coptic Orthodox Church is a twentieth-century development, for there was little emigration before this point. Colonialism - occupation by French and British forces in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries - created favourable conditions for some Copts, who travelled to Europe for study and work. But this did not lead to permanent overseas communities. The emergence of a Coptic diaspora comes with the 1952 socialist revolution led by Gamal Nasser, which affected all wealthy Egyptians. Wealthy Copts began to emigrate to Europe and the United States in the 1950s. Some simply came for study and stayed to form a community.

Another wave of emigration followed the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, mainly directed toward Canada, Australia, and the United States. After 1972 immigration was sponsored by the World Council of Churches, and other religious bodies, who assisted Copts on the ground that they suffered from religious persecution. At this stage, less-educated and less-wealthy Copts joined the diaspora. There are now several dioceses for the

Coptic Orthodox outside Egypt. From 1990, bishops were appointed to East Africa, France, Jerusalem, Nubia and Khartoum. Two US dioceses have since been formed: California and Florida/Texas. Dioceses have been established in Australia, Britain and Ireland/Scotland/NE England. Coptic parishes are established in the major cities of Canada, and in several European and Arab countries. The diaspora profile continues to change and information about it is best obtained from Coptic Church organizations. The size of diaspora communities is difficult to determine, sometimes because the census does not separate Christian from Muslim Egyptians. The Coptic Orthodox in the US were estimated at 400,000 in 1999. As this is one of the largest diaspora communities, it suggests a scale for others and points to worldwide numbers.

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