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Religion

Islam is constitutionally established as the official religion of Egypt and around 90% of the population is Sunni Muslim with a small minority of Bohra Muslims and other non-Sunni sects represented.

Egypt is one of Islam's most influential intellectual centers. Al Azhar University, the oldest university in the world, graduates Islamic scholars from every Muslim country on earth. The Rector of Al Azhar occupies one of the most important hierarchical positions in the Muslim world and exercises great influence over religious issues of the day.

Coptic Christians form the country's largest and most significant religious minority with government estimates claiming only 3 million Copts while Coptic Church estimates place the number at around 7 million. This disparity indicates an underlying tension between the dominant Muslim community and the Coptic minority, which has begun to flare up periodically in acts of vandalism with the rise of Muslim fundamentalism.

Another one million or so Roman Catholics, Greek and Armenian Orthodox Christians as well as Protestants are also among Egypt's citizens. These groups, which thrived during colonial times, are now dwindling as a result of emigration. There is also a tiny and very discreet Jewish community, which has also been depleted by emigration.     There are many churches open in the major urban centers but the lovely art nouveau synagogue in Cairo has been closed for decades.

   

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