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05/07/2021 Egypt (International Christian Concern) –  Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi announced the sixteenth consecutive extension of the nationwide state of emergency that has been in effect since April 10, 2017. This announcement coincided with the celebration of Egyptian Easter, as the government failed to recognize Easter as an official holiday and therefore appeasing its Muslim majority citizens.

The state of emergency began the day after a twin suicide bombing on Palm Sunday 2017 at two Coptic churches. At least 44 people were killed and 126 injured in the attack that ISIS later claimed responsibility for. While COVID-19 has significantly impacted the nation as a third wave of infections sweeps through following the start of Ramadan, the four-year state of emergency has allowed the Egyptian government to act unjustly in incidents not relating to the protection of its people.

What began as protection from a serious religious freedom incident has devolved into an excuse for authorities to make arrests and search homes without warrants. Human rights and religious freedoms are being suppressed under the guise of protection.

In an announcement regarding May official holidays, Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly did not acknowledge Easter as a religious holiday, instead indicating it as a day off to prevent overcrowding in response to COVID-19. Easter fell on May 2, between the observed Labor Day on May 1 and Egypt’s national holiday to celebrate spring on May 3. Egyptian Christians expressed their frustration at the announcement, saying that the issue is about equality among citizens, particularly for religious observance. Some cited that Christmas is often a national holiday because it is a Christian celebration that Muslims do not oppose, unlike Easter. Muslims claim that there was no resurrection.

For interviews, please contact Addison Parker: [email protected].