A Coptic Orthodox Cleric’s Perspective on the Formation of Coptic Identity in the Diaspora

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Paul Guirgis



Through its multi-decade existence, the Coptic diaspora continues to grapple with identity formation issues, both at the individual and collective levels. Efforts reflect a wide range of attitudes toward the identity of origin, ranging from retention and maintenance to rejection and formation of a new identity. Additionally, the Coptic diasporic identity is influenced by how the identity of origin is perceived. For this factor, the choice is usually made between two positions, victimhood or triumphalism. Some can step outside this false dichotomy, embracing an empowered identity of action, which is neither ignorant of the past nor subjugated by it. Furthermore, the process of identity formation is influenced by an array of moderating factors, operating in a complex web of interactions. The complex process of identity formation can be observed in the Coptic diaspora. A look at this complex issue from a Coptic Orthodox cleric’s perspective, serving the largest Coptic Orthodox congregation in Canada established in the early 1980s, is presented in this paper within the timeframe of 2007–2021. Unless otherwise stated, views presented in this paper reflect the author’s observations over the stated timeline and within the stated geographical area.


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