Egypt is predominantly Muslim with an important Christian minority. Islam was defined as the state religion in 1980, before this the state was defined as secular.
Of the Ancient Egyptian religion no adherents still exist, but numerous concepts and rituals derived from it survive in modern in Christianity and Islam. Some modern practices are direct reenactments of ancient cults.
Practically all Muslims are Sunni. Sufism has traditionally been a strong force in Egypt, with it zar and dhikr cults, but has become less popular in recent decades.
Popular Islam and institutionalized Islam stand in opposition in Egypt. The Islam of the countryside is syncretic and tolerant, whereas the Islam promoted by a majority of scholars has the same structures as Islamism; religious belief cleansed of extra-Islamic ideas, practice simplified and values and regulations promoted as if they can cover and explain all aspects of life. Islam in Egypt is tensed, Egypt is one of the heartlands of Islamism, and extreme views on other faiths and the Western world are common among a substantial, although never measured, part of the population.
The size of the Christian community only comes in estimates, and these vary from 3% to above 10%, even up to 20%. The Christians in Egypt tend to make the larger estimate, the government the smaller. The uncertainty of the size of the Christian community is part of an unfortunate majority against minority politics conducted since centuries in Egypt. By claiming that the size of the Christian community to be as small as 3%, Muslim can obtain a larger part of public fundings, and have more influence in politics, culture and education.
Christianity in Egypt is totally dominated by the Coptic church, which is a native church to Egypt, with its own pope residing in Alexandria. The Coptic church has an offspring, the Coptic Catholic Church. There is no real tension between the two.
The other Christian groups of Egypt are mainly located to the northern parts of the country, being a result of centuries of international trade and other forms of migrations. The Greek Orthodox are to a major extent reflecting the long Greek presence, the Melkites are of Lebanese offspring, whereas the Armenian Orthodox was formed by refugees from Turkey (see Armenian Genocide).
The remaining community adhering to Judaism now only count a few hundred souls, but is still capable of running at least 3 synagogues, two in Cairo, one in Alexandria. The Jewish community counted about 65,000 in the middle of the 1940's. Most of those leaving, left for Israel, and many of them were expelled in 1956 (Suez-Sinai War) for no other reason than being Jewish.
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