As my Coptic friend observed tonight over dinner: "We (Egyptians) never knew this word 'religion' until the Muslims came. There were the Christians following Jesus and the Jews following Moses. It was the Muslims who created this idea of religious differences. Before we were Egyptians living in our land and worshiping, but when the Muslims came they used 'religion' to destroy us and take over."
I don't know how true this is (there were pagans too, right?), but it did remind me of the story of the Desert Father (I can't remember which) who was questioned by some pagans and told them that tomorrow they would see a great witness of God's power, and then on that day the pagan emperor died. Those same pagans then fled to their idol in great anger, asking it "if you did not favor him (the emperor), then why did you accept his offerings?!"
Would that it were that today's Muslims in Egypt would be so open to see the great presence of God in their Coptic brothers and sisters despite the difference in religion (as the pagans above obviously saw that the Christian was right, even if it did not cause them to abandon their idol). As usual, I am pessimistic to men but hopeful to God. So I trust that the Coptic people will be greatly rewarded when and where it matters, even if this action will be forgotten the next time some loudmouth imam decides the cross is an affront to his myopic view of Egypt and religion. May God also show such people the way to true repentance and love of all as equal sons and daughters of God.
And may God protect the holy Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. It is a great light to all the world. (And I thought that even from far away, so I'm only semi-biased!)