Religion has traditionally been a pervasive social force in Egypt. For more than 1,000 years, the country has been mostly Islamic. Still, there is an indigenous Christian minority, the Copts, which accounted for as much as 8.5 percent of the total population. Other Christians living in the country included approximately 750,000 adherents of various Latin and Eastern Catholic rites, Greek and Armenian Orthodox churches, and Protestant denominations; many of these Christians emigrated after the 1956 War. An estimated 1,000 Jews lived in Egypt as of 1990. These Jews were a fragment of a community of 80,000 who lived in the country before 1948. Egypt's Constitution of 1971 guarantees freedom of religion (see Islam , this ch.).
Religious fervor increased among all social classes after Egypt's defeat in the June 1967 War. Pious individuals commonly blamed Egypt's lack of faith for the country's setbacks. The resurgence in public worship and displays of devotion persisted in the late 1980s. A relaxation of press censorship in 1974 stimulated the growth of religious publications. Religiously inspired political activism and participation in Sufi orders intensified among the urban, educated, formerly secular-minded segments of the populace.