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Published: Mon, April 17, 2017
Culture | By Antonia Gonzales

Coptic Christians pray, persevere after Egypt church bombings

Coptic Christians pray, persevere after Egypt church bombings

The blasts came weeks before an expected visit by Pope Francis meant to show support for the country's Christians, who make up about 10% of Egypt's population and have long complained of being vulnerable and marginalised.

The Cabinet's approval came after President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi in a brief television appearance last night announced the state of emergency for three months. The first explosion, which left 27 people dead and 78 injured, ripped through a Palm Sunday service at Mar Girgis (St. George's) Coptic church in Tanta, a city located 120 km from Cairo.

At least 49 worshippers were killed on Palm Sunday when two Coptic Christian churches in Egypt exploded in bomb attacks which the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for, according to state media. Many of Egypt's Christians are Coptic, a centuries.

Mourners filled the Saint Mina monastery west of Alexandria yesterday as they bade farewell to the victims of the deadliest attacks in recent memory on Egypt's Coptic Christian minority.

"In just seconds, the entire church was filled with smoke, fire, blood, and screams", Father Danial Maher told The Associated Press over the phone from Tanta on Monday where he buried his son, Beshoy late Sunday night. Another massive bombing in 2016 killed at least 25 people inside a Cairo church during Sunday mass.

In December, a massive church bombing killed 30 people in Cairo, and a series of killings in the Sinai have caused hundreds to flee to safer areas.

In Tanta, where many families buried their dead on Sunday, members of the Coptic community expressed anger at the lack of security, saying that despite warnings of an attack, police had not stepped up efforts to protect them. Some worry that the state of emergency will only give Al Sisi more latitude to oppress his people, who already live under a regime accused of extensive and brutal human rights abuses. Egypt's police intercepted the bomber at the church gate, whereupon he blew himself up. "I didn't realize what's happening until I saw blood and organs of our friends scattered over the ground", Saeed told CNN.

The measure allows authorities to make arrests without warrants and search people's homes. Egypt's Copts are one of the most ancient Christian communities and the largest in the Middle East, said the report.

"We won't see a change on the ground, as this decision wasn't taken to give more powers or tighten control", said political analyst Yasser Abdel-Aziz.

"We will defeat terrorist groups, the killers and will continue fighting and building at the same time", he said.

Coptic Pope Tawadros II was expected to meet with Pope Francis during Pope Francis's visit to Egypt later this month. "The attack will not undermine the resolve and true will of the Egyptian people to counter the forces of evil, but will only harden their determination to move forward on their trajectory to realize security, stability and comprehensive development".

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