“With the new constitution, the new laws that are expected, and the majority in parliament I don’t believe we can be treated on an equal basis,” said a congregation leader in Cairo’s Church of St Mary and St John the Baptist.

He said he knew a dozen families who had left already and 40 or 50 more friends who had applied – including, he added, liberal Muslim families who were also unhappy with the prospect of more restrictive laws.

There were 2 Coptic churches in the United States 40 years ago, whereas there are now 200.

The most recent opened in Arlington, outside Washington, last year. “We are trying to accommodate all of the new arrivals,” said Atef Yacoub, a member of the area’s Coptic community. “People are coming and staying by applying for asylum or seeking employment visas.”