Aren’t Two Heads Better Than One

ethnic conflict in egyptGlobalization provides exchange of ideas, products and culture both internal and external to a nations; it also generates conditions that are conductive to the development of extremist movements, instability and conflict. Many countries have acquiesced to sporadic growth, apathy, inequity and turmoil. This is not unknown to Egyptians, as Egypt struggles with irregular growth, rising inequities, insecurities, and repression (Sandbroook & Romano, 2004).

Following the Islamic conquest of Egypt, the Coptic Church and Christianity continued to prosper and Egypt remained predominantly practicing Christianity. Simultaneously, as it’s social, governmental and political systems transition to adopting Islamic law, many inequities began to emerge between the Coptic Christians and Islamic Muslims giving rise to the suppression of practicing Christians and positioning them to an inferior status to Muslims. This began with the Profit of Islam, though allowing the Christians freedom to practice their religion; it was at the circumstance and influence of his wife being Egyptian. They were levied with a special tax called “Gezya or Jizya” (Encyclopedia Coptica, 2006), that in my opinion forced an unfair taxation and breech of individual rights and liberties. In further segregating and elevating the status of Muslims, Christians were also subject to Sumptuary Laws (laws that limit the private spending on food and personal goods), which further limited their freedom. However, with the current internal inequities Egypt continued peacefully until about the year 1001, Muslim’s up their strategies by interfering with Christian’s freedom to worship by restricting repairs to old churches and/or building new ones. They also restricted public religious activities, public appearances, new dress code, etc., shifting toward a predominately Muslim society.

As “On the Salience of Ethnic Conflict” points out, a great deal of conflict we observe today is based on ethnic rivalry (Esteban & Ray, 2008). Among a group a high ethnic alliance can form in attempt to appropriate political, economical, social and religious order, where once there was a mutual or sustained alliance and peace. The Arab Muslim population in Egypt accounts for approximately 90% and is the major religion, social, economic and political structure, therefore, they have the greater resources such as finances, manpower, military and goods to support their efforts. Their obstinate synergy has inflicted massive havoc on the Coptic Christians, knowing individual faith family and beliefs are things in which people identify themselves and will fight and die for. The tragedy of these conflicts are the magnitude and extent to which extremist among this ethnic group will go to persuade or force the opposition to change, and the inequities, lack of justice and loss of life sustained as a result of their conquest. See PBS NEWSHOUR clip below that aired on March 4, 2010 depicting struggles between Egyptian Muslims and Christians.



The examination of this phenomenon is that societal division effects ethnic groups and captivates religious order sometimes to the point of conflict giving racial and religious tension. Ethnicity is at the center of politics in a divided societies and leads to internal conflicts and international tensions. Ethnic conflict strains the cohesion that sustains civility; cultivates unwillingness to compromise and violence becoming a source of control. Violence adds negativity and instability to a country and drastically effect communication therefore, decreasing technology advancement through the exchange of ideas and innovation. Further, economic prosperity of a country can be directly influenced by the resources spent supporting a religious group movement in time, labor, etc., as non-productive usage of capital, and can affect the rate of growth and economic advancement. The effects of Egypt’s internal turmoil are believed to have greatly effected their global advancements.


Esteban, J., & Ray, D. (2008). On the salience of Ethnic Conflict. American Economic

Review, 98(5), 2185-2202.

Sandbrook, R., & Romano, D. (2004). Globalization, extremism and violence in poor

countries. Third World Quarterly, 25(6), 1007-1030.

The Christian Coptic orthodox church of Egypt. (2006). In Encyclopedia Coptica.


6 thoughts on “Aren’t Two Heads Better Than One

  1. Your post was very interesting!
    I learned a lot from the history of the Coptic Christians and Islamic Muslims.
    Then, the video was really helpful to understand the conflicts between them.
    In the video, I saw a similarity between this conflicts in Egypt and the Rwanda’s Hutu and Tutsi conflicts. As a radio broadcasting accelerated the conflicts in Rwanda, TV shows in Egypt also support Muslims and provoke riots of both sides.
    The media has a huge power to incite people to raise a riot…

    Thank you!


  2. Note that the Jizya taxation’s main purpose is to “pay for protection”. Non Muslims did not participate in any Muslim conquests or expansion. Moreover ISIS is actually forcing Jizya on non Muslims living in ISIS controlled territories. During my visit to Iraq, I learned that there’s only one Christian family living in Mosul (Northern Iraq) that’s actually paying Jizya.


  3. I’m agree with you.. Ethnicity is at the center of politics in a divided societies and leads to internal conflicts and international tensions. this is has happened to war in a lot of countries. Thank you


  4. Great Job!
    You are stating that the main conflict is based on an ethnic issues. However, based on the research I have been doing on Egypt’s crisis, its main conflict is based on the corruption of the government an different political issues. A bad government that has been affecting the different religious groups in the country.


    1. Thanks, I believe that the statement was in agreement with Esteban and Ray “On the Salience of Ethnic Conflict” that a great deal of of conflict observed has some ethnic basis. These problems usually are always multifaceted and have many causation, government plays a huge role and were Egypt government is playing a huge role, there are a lot of political, socioeconomic, ethnic, and religious issues going on here. As the clip points out there is much conflict between Muslims and Christians. Neoliberalism and privatization also played a huge role. Even in US domestic conflict there is always a component of ethnicity, you cannot separate people from who they are, their belief, and morals. Egyptian culture is deeply routed in their religious and ethnicity….thanks for your comment and debate.


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