Egypt’s Coptic Christians complained of discrimination under Hosni Mubarak but fear it may get worse if an Islamist takes his place in next week’s presidential election.
Long-suppressed Islamists already dominate parliament. Islamist contenders for the presidency say Christians, who form about a tenth of Egypt’s 82 million mostly Muslim people, will not be sidelined, but mistrustful Copts will not vote for them.
The single biggest Coptic grievance and the source of most sectarian violence in Egypt is legislation that makes it easy to build a mosque but hard to construct or even repair a church.
A new mosque needs only a permit from the local district. A church needs extra paper work and the president himself must sign off, a task Mubarak eventually delegated to city governors.