WASHINGTON, Sept. 24, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Coptic Christians have been nominated for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for their refusal to retaliate against deadly and ongoing persecution from governments and terrorist groups in Egypt and elsewhere.
The Copts, who are the indigenous people of Egypt and number as many as 20 million around the world, have been the victims of centuries of violence and oppression for practicing their Christian faith, chiefly in Egypt.
Although organizations such as the Red Cross have won the Nobel Peace Prize, it has never been awarded to an ethno-religious group. This is believed to be the first time such a group has been so nominated.
The verified nomination was confirmed by Coptic Orphans, a U.S.-headquartered international development organization. The Norwegian Nobel Committee does not release the identities of nominees.
The recipient of the Peace Prize will be announced on October 5. The prize is awarded in December in Stockholm.
According to a 2018 report by the Christian charity, Open Doors, Christians in Egypt face "unprecedented levels of persecution." Last year, according to the report, 128 Egyptian Christians were killed for their faith and more than 200 were driven out of their homes.
In 2011, Coptic Christians in Cairo, Egypt, staged a peaceful protest after their church was demolished. Protesters were attacked by security forces and the army, resulting in 28 deaths and more than 200 injuries. Over 80 Coptic churches and institutions were burned following the 2013 coup in Egypt. ISIS has vowed to exterminate the Coptic people, calling them their "favorite prey," and in 2015 beheaded 21 Coptic Christians in Libya.
Despite this, Coptic Christians have consistently refused to retaliate and continue to practice peaceful coexistence. In recognition of this, Coptic Christians have been nominated for the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize.
The Copts trace their history to the earliest days of Christianity in Egypt. Christianity was introduced into present-day Egypt in 62 A.D. by St. Mark, author of the Gospel of Mark, and founder of the Church of Alexandria.
Today, the Copts are the largest Christian minority population in the Middle East, numbering anywhere between 7-15 million making up around 10 percent of the country's population.
There are as many as 600,000 Coptic Christians in the U.S. and more than 250 Coptic Orthodox parishes.
The Coptic Orthodox Church has been headed by His Holiness Pope Tawadros II in Alexandria, Egypt since 2012.
Notable Copts include former United Nations Secretary General Boutros-Boutros Ghali, former Deputy National Security Advisor Dina Powell, and actor Rami Malek ("Mr. Robot").
To read the account of a Coptic woman who lost two brothers in the 2015 ISIS beheading, please see this story.
SOURCE Coptic Orphans