Coptic Palm Sunday Will Mark One-Year Anniversary of Church Bombings

ICC Note: April 9 will mark the one-year anniversary of twin suicide bombings by ISIS on Egyptian Palm Sunday where 45 Christians were killed and more than a hundred injured.  As the date approaches, Egypt’s Christians are worried that they will once again be targeted. (Egyptian Christians celebrate Palm Sunday on a different day than U.S. believers.)

03/25/2018 Egypt (Christianity Today) – This coming Palm Sunday has an even more poignant meaning than usual for Egypt’s Coptic Christians who make up some 10 per cent of the country’s Muslim-majority population.

For it recalls the horrific church bombings on April 9, 2017, which killed at least 45 people and injured more than a hundred.

Twin suicide bombings, claimed by Islamic State, took place at St George’s Church in the northern Egyptian city of Tanta on the Nile Delta, and at St Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria, which is the seat of the Coptic papacy (Pope Tawadros II, the leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church, was inside St Mark’s Church but was not harmed).

Security will be especially tight around the Palm Sunday church services, with the added tension that they take place immediately after presidential elections which begin on Monday 26 and last for three days. The contest is between the incumbent president Abdel Fattah al Sisi and the little known El Ghad party chair, Moussa Mostafa Moussa.

It was Sisi who, the day after the attacks, formally decreed a three-month state of emergency. This, approved unanimously by the country’s parliament on April 11, gave the armed forces responsibility for preserving security throughout the country and protecting private and public property.

Egypt’s emergency law, which dates back to 1958, gives the authorities sweeping powers to arrest, detain, try, and sentence suspects with almost no judicial review. It was last used in June 2012, when the government allowed it to expire more than a year after a nation-wide uprising as part of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ swept up the long-time former leader Hosni Mubarak.

Though in response to the attacks on Christians, the latest crackdown has not benefited the Coptic population, who groups such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) say face widespread legal and social discrimination and are routinely denied high-level government and security services jobs.

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