Persecuting and discriminating against Copts is apparently not enough; the Egyptian government is also trying to obliterate the Copts' very identity: "The Cultural Genocide of Egypt's Christian Copts," from AINA, June 14:
(AINA) -- The Egyptian Government, In a new step in long-term and premeditated process of obliterating Coptic identity and history, has decided to change the name of the Coptic village of Deir Abu Hennis, in the Upper Egyptian province of Mallawi, Minya. The village was founded in the 4th century AD on the grounds of the Monastery of St. Hennis the Short, a much revered Coptic Saint. The new name chosen by the Government is "Valley of Peppermint."
More than four thousand Coptic villagers demonstrated on Thursday June, 11 against this forced change, vowing to fight to the end to keep the name of their village. They carried banners with slogans such as 'Let us all die and May Abu Hennis live for ever' and "We, the inhabitants of the village refuse the change in the name of our village and we want it to remain as it is. It is our right and our demand"
The inhabitants of the village, who are 100% Copts, are not only angry because the Minister of Justice,issued an order to change the name of their village into "Valley of Peppermint," but because this decision was made on 4/12/2009, but they were informed on 6/9/2009.
Upon hearing of the news, the Copts in Deir Abu Hennis village sent on 6/9/2009 a plea to all concerned authorities and Coptic NGOs, expressing their anger at this decision. They made a petition which was signed by 35,000 village inhabitants.
They believe that this change in the names of Coptic villages is premeditated and did not come as a result of a whim on the part of the local council, otherwise why does the Minister of Justice get involved, even though this does not gall under his jurisdiction.[...]
Dr. Gibraeel has been protesting for several years against the changing of Coptic names, whether of streets, squares or areas and substituting them with Islamic names, which has been going on for some time, and spreads all over Egypt from Aswan to Alexandria. To raise awareness of this on-going phenomenon, he previously filed petitions against the Governor of Cairo for substituting Coptic names of places of interest with Muslim ones around Cairo.
Coptic Bishop Thomas of El-Qussia Diocese, Upper Egypt, gave a lecture last July at the Hudson Institute entitled "The Experience of the Middle East's largest Christian community during a time of rising Islamization." He talked about the dilemma of the Copts who kept their Christianity, and identity as Egyptians who have their own culture, in the face of their fellow citizens who have adopted an Arab culture and identity. "Now when you look at a Copt, you don't see only a Christian, you see an Egyptian who is trying to keep his identity versus another imported identity that is working on him," he said.
As a reaction to this lecture more than 200 articles appeared in the Egyptian Media attacking Bishop Thomas, asserting the Arab and Islamic identity of Egypt, others called for putting him on trial charged with 'treason', while one Imam called for his death.
Dr. Gibraeel also appealed today to the Culture Minister Farouk Hosni, responsible for safeguarding the cultural heritage of Egypt, asking for his intervention. A meeting is scheduled between them on Thursday, 6/18/2009.
The village of Abu Hennis is placed on Egypt's tourist map, and tourists come from all over the world to visit it as part of the history and culture of the Copts of Egypt going back to the 4th century AD. "It represents an assault on the country's national wealth, and gives rise to sectarian tensions, as the name of Deir (Monastery) of St. Hennis the Short, is a source of religious pride to the Copts, and part of the history of the martyrs of the Coptic Orthodox Church," he said.