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“Law abiding out of fear, possibly; honest to a fault in terms of how they handle money — and in fact that’s the reputation Copts have had since the Mamluk period, when they were given oversight of finances.”

For younger Copts, such stereotypes are offensive.

“It makes us feel horrible,” says Gerges Saber, a 33-year-old political activist. “If you want to create something about the people, go and sit with the people, don’t use manipulation and falsities.”

Mr. Saber, a coordinator of the Social Democratic Party in Giza, expresses his desire not to be defined by his faith in his political or public life.

“I am Christian, but I want to be a citizen Christian, not part of an ethnic tribal group,” Saber says. “My name identifies my religion, but my religion is not my ideology.”

As Copts have grown more vocal in Egyptian politics, most see their contributions and participation as irreversible.

Ibrahim Ishak, a Christian researcher for the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, puts it succinctly.

Because Christians “have participated [in the events of] 30 June,” he says, “they have weight, because everybody saw that they played a role in ousting Morsi. The state institutions say they helped them a lot, so they have more respect from both sides. That will reflect on television and everywhere.”

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A frequent contributor to ONE, Sarah Topol’s writing has been published in The Atlantic, Esquire and The New York Times.



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