Samantha C. Leveugle

International Studies

In looking for a research project, Samantha Leveugle wanted to find something she was passionate about. Having been involved in her church community and studied the Middle East as part of her International Studies major, she was drawn to the debate on the persecution of the Christians in Egypt. She was particularly appreciative of the opportunities it gave her to work closely with her mentor and the unique insights he had to offer throughout the research process. After graduation, Samantha plans to continue her education, pursuing a Master’s degree in Theology.triangle.gif (504 bytes)




Western media has reported a recent increase in sectarian violence between Coptic Christians and Muslims in Egypt. Emphasis is often given to the injustice of these violent acts while the causes of sectarian divide are rarely discussed, but understanding these causes is important in addressing the sectarian divide. In this essay, I answer two questions: first, what has the role and place of the Copts been in the fabric of Egyptian society for the past 200 years? Second, what policies have contributed to the economic and political marginalization of the Copts? To answer these questions, I look at the history of the Copts from the Muhammad Ali dynasty to the thirty-year reign of Hosni Mubarak as president of Egypt. A review of these major events has shown that the economic policies and political ideologies pursued under the reign of Muhammad Ali greatly benefited the Coptic Christians, who became national economic and political leaders in Egypt until the 1952 Free Officers Revolution. After the revolution, the Nasser administration pursued policies that kept the Coptic community from fully participating in Egyptian national life. Such marginalization was maintained by the policies enacted by Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak, upon which the Copts became dependent for the guarantee of their rights as citizens of Egypt and for the protection of the community from persecution.triangle.gif (504 bytes)

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Faculty Mentor                                                                                                                

Mark Andrew Le Vine

School of Humanities

Samantha Leveugle's essay is an important attempt to uncover the deeper historical roots of one of the most telling and in hindsight foreboding moments of the Arab Uprisings: the murder of two dozen Coptic Christian Egyptians by the military in October, 2011. Leveugle understood that whatever the immediate causes of the massacre, the reasons underlying not just the killings but how they proceeded, were defended and justified by the government, and accepted by the mass of Egyptians, can only be determined by looking at the formative period for post-independence rule in Egypt. Her research reminds even those who are familiar with Egypt's history that the nuances of state-society interactions remain quite important to study, and often lead to (re)discovering important facts about the past that help us better piece together the present.triangle.gif (504 bytes)

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