The number of Christians to have fled Egypt since March is approaching 100,000, and could reach 250,000 by the end of 2011, a Coptic NGO has reported. An estimated 93,000 have left already, the head of the Egyptian Federation of Human Rights told the daily Al-Masry Al-Youm.

Numbers were based on information gathered from churches within Egypt and from Coptic communities abroad.

The most popular destination for fleeing Christians was the United States, which took in an estimated 42,000 of the Egyptian Copts. Other destinations included Canada, Australia and western Europe.

Federation of Human Rights head Naguib Gabriel said Christians were leaving over threats from Salafi groups seeking to implement Sharia (Islamic law) as national law, and over the government’s failure to bring attackers to justice in attacks on churches.

Some voiced skepticism regarding the report, saying it was unlikely that Christians could have migrated so quickly, due to the bureaucracy involved in immigration. However, they told Al-Masry Al-Youm that they agree anti-Christian persecution is a serious issue.

Harassment of Copts in Egypt has included attacks on churches, the kidnap of teenage Christian girls and their forced conversion to Islam, and the massacre of Christian families in the north of the country. Minority Christian groups are under threat elsewhere in the Muslim world as well.