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The new government appointed Copts to take some 20 percent of the first interim cabinet. They appeared to have made their decisions based on the politicians’ experience. For example, Laila Rashed Iskandar, chosen as the environmental minister, built her reputation in part from her dedicated work with the Zabbaleen — a class of garbage collectors in Cairo, mostly Christian — which had earned her international accolades. Mounir Fakhry Abdel-Nour, a Coptic politician from the Wafd party and the founder of the Egyptian Finance Company, was appointed minister of industry.

Meanwhile, Christian youth continue to demand a voice in the political scene, but there are still many battles to be fought.

“The culture was a culture of discrimination until now. We are fighting for human rights in the new constitution. We have tried, but the culture still exists. You have to change the media and the channels who say bad things, change the leaders of the mosques,” says George Ishaq, a leading Coptic political activist in the Kefaya movement, the first activist group to openly challenge Mubarak in the mid-2000’s.

“We must change this culture, the school curriculum, the media,” he adds, “and that will take time.”

For Copts to play an active role in Egyptian society, many say, their depiction in public culture — television and film, especially — must also change.

Lotfy Labib, a Coptic actor who has built his career playing a father or uncle figure in Egyptian cinema, says his fans had no idea he was Christian until after the revolution, when he began appearing on television to champion Coptic rights. When his fans learned of his Christian faith, Mr. Labib says he received nothing but support.

He began making Coptic films when he was in his 20’s. The church funded films depicting the saints for its parishes and communities around the world. Working in these films was something spiritual for Mr. Labib.

“It was more like a church atmosphere, acting was something like praying,” he explains.

“The topic itself was a religious topic, the places of shooting were religious places, and we worked for free, so we were giving our spirit for that. All that prepared the atmosphere to be spiritual.”

Yet in the 104 movies and 132 television episodes in which he has since appeared, Mr. Labib has never played a Christian character. Acting as a Muslim character, however, does not bother him.

“I’m a professional, that’s how I make money,” he says, “My culture is Egyptian, not Christian — that’s my religion.”

Mr. Labib explains that, in Egyptian cinema, most plot lines involving Copts focus on Christians converting to Islam or feature a secondary Christian best friend who appears as a bland, goody-two-shoes, without much depth. In his opinion, there are no shows on mainstream television focusing on Copts, because they would not be able to sell in the rest of the Arab market.

The depiction of Copts in literature is no better.

“Passive is the word that comes to mind,” says Mariam Ayad, an Egyptology and Coptic studies professor at the American University of Cairo.

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