THE GENETIC STRUCTURE OF THE COPTS AND MUSLIMS OF EGYPT 3: THE GENETIC STRUCTURE OF THE COPTS IS DISTINGUISHABLE FROM THAT OF THE MUSLIMS OF EGYPT
In the two previous articles, I spoke about the two opposing views on the matter of ethnic relationship between the Copts and Muslims of Egypt, and then on the study by Henn et al which showed for the first time the genetic structure of the Muslims of Egypt and compared it with those of neighbouring populations to show the effect of “back-to-Africa” gene flow, Arab migration and sub-Saharan slave trade in their blood.
Today, I publish here a quest article by Zack Shenouda on the important 2015 study by Dobon et al, which found that the Coptic genetic structure of the Copts is distinguishable from that of Egyptian Muslims.
Here is his article:
Dobon et al study was published in 2015. This study primarily analyzed 6 ethnic groups in Sudan. These include Copts, Beja, Ethiopians, Arabs, Nubians, and Darfurians. For clarity, the study also mentions that the Coptic population in Sudan, is the product of recent migration from Egypt. A previous 2008 study H.Y. Hassan et al, further corroborates Dobon’s point, by stating that the highly effective population size of the Coptic population in Sudan is the product of recent migrations from Egypt. Basically, the authors in both these studies, make it a point to clarify that the origin of this Coptic population, is from Egypt. The author in the 2015 study also makes this clear by demonstrating that Copts cluster closely together and they cluster in a way that remains differentiated from all other Sudanese groups in this study.
Dobon et al study compared this Coptic population to the Egyptian non-Coptic population.
This study used the external data from the Henn et al study, which provided information on the genomic data for Egyptian Muslims.
Dobon makes a comparative analysis between the Coptic sample and the non-Coptic Egyptian population(Egyptian Muslims). This non-Coptic Egyptian population is referenced as Egypt in his study. The study conducts this comparative analysis by using ADMIXTURE. Below were the ADMIXTURE results:
The ancestral components were labeled by five colors. These include North African/Middle Eastern (dark blue), Sub-Saharan (light blue), Coptic (dark green), Nilo-Saharan (light green) and Fulani (pink). As the analysis proceeds from K=2 to K=5, more details gradually emerge.
The study indicates that Copts show their own component and this is demonstrated at the K=4. The study claims that Copts specifically lack influence from Qatar, which is present in the Egyptian population. The author in this study believes that this discovery suggests, “Copts have a genetic composition that could resemble the ancestral Egyptian population, without the present strong Arab influence.”
Below are the components for Copts, Egypt (Egyptian Muslim), and Qatar at K=4.
Qatar Egypt Copts
While all three of these components still demonstrate the North Africa/Middle-Eastern ancestral component (dark blue) at K=4, we also we begin to notice sharp differences, with Copts demonstrating significantly more of the Coptic component (dark green) than both Qatari & the non-Coptic Egyptian population. We also notice that the Egyptian Muslim and the Qatari population demonstrate some Sub-Saharan Africa component (light blue). On the other hand, Copts don’t demonstrate any Sub-Saharan African component. It’s telling that when the analysis gets more detailed at K=4, we begin to see that the Egyptian non-Coptic population shows more similarities with the Qatar population, than with the Coptic population.
Why is this important? It’s been repeated in the past, that Copts and Egyptian Muslim are genetically indistinguishable. These claims were based on old studies, which have not explored genetics in the adequate amount exploration and detail required. Sameness claims are easy to make because they don’t require much exploration. For example in 2002, one study found that humans in general were 99.9% genetically identical [See here].
Sameness claims deceptive by omission. The level of detail is simply less, which yields a sameness conclusion. Sameness is claimed due to the incapability of finding the difference and missing the difference [See here].
It is now clear that as technology advances, we being to have the opportunity to explore the genome in a deeper manner and identify the genetic differences between Copts and Egyptian Muslims. Dobon’s study was one of the first to demonstrate just that and we can expect more to come in the future.
We still don’t have all the answers, but what we do know is Copts and Egyptian Muslims are genetically distinguishable. To deny this difference is to deny data. And for one group to demonstrate more of a component than the other is one way to demonstrate this difference. In other words, even if all groups have the same components, the frequencies of these components are what yield difference.
Copts and Egyptian Muslims are genetically distinguishable.