Most Copts, Egyptian Christians, outside Egypt have a history of immigration in recent or current generations. Dispersed across nations and continents, Copts are keeping group intra-relationships alive through the Church and other organisations. However, the Coptic Orthodox Church rejects the term diaspora, and different Coptic organisations construct different ways of belonging to Egypt as ‘home country.’ Thus, the question is what characterises Coptic diaspora identities, and how are the relations to Egypt mediated, negotiated, and contested through the transnational practices of Copts outside Egypt. In order to answer these questions, this chapter will explore how people outside Egypt create meaning of their experience of displacement through shared narratives. Such shared narratives are in general offered by institutions and organisations within the migrant community, but also encouraged by opportunity structures within the receiving country and grand narratives of the ‘home country.’ Thus, Copts in England and Denmark seem to be offered at least three dominant narratives of migrant identity. First, the religious narrative of being Christian highlights the universal aspects of Christianity contesting an inferior position in or outside Egypt. Second, a national narrative about national unity between Muslims and Copts offers Copts outside Egypt a position as Egyptians and thus includes Copts in an Egyptian rather than Coptic diaspora. Third, a NGO-promoted narrative of Copts being victims of persecution and discrimination within Egypt offers Copts outside Egypt a position as refugees and minority. These are three very different ways of ascribing meaning to the migrant situation and though they may converge in practice, they do construct diaspora identities very differently in their practice as well as narrative.
Religious actors and bodies from within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark have increasingly adopted interreligious dialogue as an instrument dealing with changes of the religious landscape due to immigration, religious radicalisation and secularisation. Without any formal body representing the entire church, interreligious dialogue emerges from a variety of initiatives. Whereas these can be divided between religious leaders’ versus people-to-people’s dialogue, I will argue that both models are characterised by being decentralised and culturalised while dealing with the simultaneous subjectivity and representation of the individual believer.
Despite little scholarly attention, Middle Eastern Christian Churches are a well-established element of the European religious landscape. Based on collaborative research, this article examines how three mutual field visits facilitated a deeper understanding of the complexity that characterises church establishment and activities among Iraqi, Assyrian/Syriac and Coptic Orthodox Christians in the uk, Sweden and Denmark. Exploring analytical dimensions of space, diversity, size, and minority position we identify three positions of Middle Eastern Christians: in London as the epitome of super-diversity, in Copenhagen as a silenced minority within a minority, and in Södertälje as a visible majority within a minority.