The Coptic Orthodox church is the largest in Egypt and the entire Middle East. It is approximately 7-10 million strong (6 -10% of the population), but since the church in Egypt is not allowed to carry out an official census, accurate figures are difficult to ascertain. The Egyptian Church faces pressures in a number of areas. The distinction between civil law and Shari'a (Islamic Law) in Egypt has been deliberately eroded over the years. Significantly, in 1980, the National Assembly accepted an amendment to the Constitution, designating Shari'a as "the...principal source of legislation" instead of "a...principle source of legislation". Although the violence of the 90s perpetrated by Islamic extremists has largely been eliminated, sporadic violence against Christians continues as a result of communal tensions. This violence has often gone unpunished by the Egyptian legal system and there seem to be no clear and consistent attempts by the authorities to prevent similar violence in the future.
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