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Working paper

Traits of negative and positive discrimination in the relationships between Coptic community and Muslim authorities of medieval Egypt"

In the course of the Middle ages, the Copts experienced a variety of drastic changes in the attitude of Muslim rulers towards them, from confidence to disgrace. The latter included not only the increasingly rigorous tax policies, but also social and domestic constraints, which can be surely defined as religious discrimination. Though the Copts managed to regain the trust of the authorities by their profound skills in administrative and courtly functions and, of course, compromise in terms of religion, which allowed them to enjoy high ranks and other benefits of their proximity to the Egyptian court. This, in its turn, made them an outstanding social group and can be considered “positive discrimination” in contrast with the definitely negative discrimination based on confessional conditions. The question of the balance between positive and negative discrimination as an instrument of regulating intrastate social cooperation can be crucial for understanding the specific of these relationships during the described period. So, the main goal of this work is to trace historical precedents which can be considered either negative or positive discrimination, and their suppositional influence on the Copts’ turning into a minority.