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Who are the Coptic Christians and what do they believe?



Worshippers attend a service as Coptic priest Father Samaan Ibrahim reads his sermon on July 26, 2012 at the St Samaans (Simon) Church also known as the Cave Church in the Mokattam village, nicknamed as
Worshippers attend a service as Coptic priest Father Samaan Ibrahim reads his sermon on July 26, 2012 at the St Samaans (Simon) Church also known as the Cave Church in the Mokattam village, nicknamed as "Garbage City," in Cairo.
Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images
Worshippers attend a service as Coptic priest Father Samaan Ibrahim reads his sermon on July 26, 2012 at the St Samaans (Simon) Church also known as the Cave Church in the Mokattam village, nicknamed as
Coptic priest Father Samaan Ibrahim sprinkles holy water onto worshipper attending a service on July 26, 2012 at the St Samaans (Simon) Church also known as the Cave Church in the Mokattam village, nicknamed as "Garbage City," in Cairo.
Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images
Worshippers attend a service as Coptic priest Father Samaan Ibrahim reads his sermon on July 26, 2012 at the St Samaans (Simon) Church also known as the Cave Church in the Mokattam village, nicknamed as
An Egyptian Coptic boy looks down from the roof of the Bishoy Monastery in Beheira province, 150 kms northwest of Cairo, on March 20, 2012, the final resting place of Coptic Pope Shenuda III, the spiritual leader of the Middle East's largest Christian minority.
Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images
Worshippers attend a service as Coptic priest Father Samaan Ibrahim reads his sermon on July 26, 2012 at the St Samaans (Simon) Church also known as the Cave Church in the Mokattam village, nicknamed as
An Egyptian woman looks through a window of the Saint Bishoy monastery, the final resting place of Egypt's Coptic Pope Shenuda, in Wadi Natrun in the Beheira province northwest of Cairo, on March 24, 2012.
Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images
Worshippers attend a service as Coptic priest Father Samaan Ibrahim reads his sermon on July 26, 2012 at the St Samaans (Simon) Church also known as the Cave Church in the Mokattam village, nicknamed as
A general view of St Samaans (Simon) Church also known as the Cave Church in the Mokattam village, nicknamed as "Garbage City," is seen on July 26, 2012 in Cairo.
Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images
Worshippers attend a service as Coptic priest Father Samaan Ibrahim reads his sermon on July 26, 2012 at the St Samaans (Simon) Church also known as the Cave Church in the Mokattam village, nicknamed as
A general view of St Samaans (Simon) Church also known as the Cave Church in the Mokattam village, nicknamed as "Garbage City," is seen on July 26, 2012 in Cairo.
Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images
Worshippers attend a service as Coptic priest Father Samaan Ibrahim reads his sermon on July 26, 2012 at the St Samaans (Simon) Church also known as the Cave Church in the Mokattam village, nicknamed as
Egyptians leave the Saint Bishoy monastery, the final resting place of Egypt's Coptic Pope Shenuda, in Wadi Natrun in the Beheira province northwest of Cairo, on March 24, 2012.
Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images


The California man suspected of making "Innocence of Muslims," the controversial film denigrating Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, is a Coptic Christian. The film has sparked protests in the Middle East and may be implicated in an attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya and other Americans.

So who are the Coptic Christians? What do they believe? The Los Angeles area is home to one of the nation’s largest Coptic Christian communities. Here’s a look at the religion and reaction to the film.

What do Coptic Christians believe?

Who are the Coptic Christians?

What’s their reaction to the film?

His Grace Bishop Serapion of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Los Angeles, Southern California and Hawaii said Thursday he doesn’t support the views portrayed in the movie. He also condemned the murders of the U.S. ambassador and three others.

Serapion said in a statement that the diocese "strongly rejects dragging the respectable Copts of the Diaspora in the latest production of an inflammatory movie about the prophet of Islam. The producers of this movie should be responsible for their actions. The name of our blessed parishioners should not be associated with the efforts of individuals who have ulterior motives."

Serapion added: "Holistically blaming the Copts for the production of this movie is equivalent to holistically blaming Muslims for the actions of a few fanatics. Even though Christians often face persecution, injustice and calls for open attacks over the airwaves, we reject violence in all its forms."

The Rev. Joseph Boules, a priest at St. Mary and St. Verena Church in Anaheim, said no one in the Coptic Orthodox community knows the filmmaker, and the church had nothing to do with the movie.

The filmmaker could be an Egyptian Catholic or Egyptian evangelical, he said, noting that the word "Coptic" is often used to denote Egyptian Christians from any Christian denomination.

Parishioners are worried about their security, and at least one church in the nearby city of Orange on Wednesday received a visit from police officers, who advised them to keep their church locked in case of retaliation, Boules said.