A Coptic woman sits in the rubble of a makeshift chapel that was torched a few months ago during clashes in Ismailiya.
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On a recent Sunday in southern Egypt, dozens of Coptic Christians gathered for Mass next to the charred remains of a wooden structure they once used as a chapel.Egypt's Copts, the Middle East's largest Christian minority, have long struggled to obtain official permission to build churches.Here in the rural southern province of Minya, even the rumor of Christians building a church can spark mob violence.Egypt's authorities often refuse to give Christians building permits for churches on the grounds that doing so would disturb the peace with their Muslim neighbors.Egypt had 2,869 churches in 2011 .However, the Copts, who make up some 10 percent of Egypt's 90 million people, are going through some of their darkest times in recent memory.A month later, when police dispersed an Islamist protest camp in Cairo and killed hundreds of Morsi supporters, the mobs responded by torching dozens of churches and Christian properties around the country.
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