"We thought the revolution would solve our grievances," Sidhom said, referring to the community's difficulties in getting permits to open new churches, and attacks on their places of worship by extremists. One particularly terrible incident was the bombing of a church in Alexandria that killed 21 people just before the Tahrir Square revolt began.
"It took a lot of people by surprise that Islamists were able to take advantage of the revolution," she said. She reeled off a list of churches that have been burned down since the revolution. Some of them were rebuilt by the Egyptian military, including a large church I visited in the Imbaba neighborhood. There was also a particularly brutal attack on peaceful Coptic demonstrators in Cairo that occurred in October, in which the army was involved.
Copts are fearful that a victory by the Muslim Brotherhood's presidential candidate, Mohammed Morsi, would mean the application of sharia law, and greater discrimination against Copts - including the closing of unlicensed churches. Many Copts live in rural villages where Christians and Muslims have gotten along for centuries. But that harmony can be easily upset, when outsiders, or younger villagers who have become radicalized, incite against Christians. And that trend, Sidhom fears, could accelerate if an Islamist becomes president.
Most Copts are voting for secular candidates such as former Foreign Minister Amr Moussa or former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq. "There is a feeling that democracy has been a disaster for us," Sidhom said.