Egyptian cabinet approves state of emergency

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi declared a state of emergency for three months following the attacks by the Islamic State group on two Coptic churches on Palm Sunday on April 9.

27 were killed and 78 injured in the Nile Delta town of Tanta, about 60 miles north of Cairo, when a bomber slipped past closed church doors and metal detectors at the Coptic church of St. George.

A few hours later, a second explosion took place outside St Mark's Cathedral in the coastal city of Alexandria, killing 17 people, including four policemen, and injuring 48, according to Health Ministry officials. The cathedral in Alexandria was likely targeted because of the presence of Pope Tawadros.

Devastating blasts hit Coptic churches in Tanta and Alexandria in Egypt, killing at least 44 people.

The horrific attacks were the latest against Christians in the region, this time on Palm Sunday - the Sunday before Easter, and the day that marks the start of Holy Week for Christians.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced the three-month period, which will vastly increase the powers of Egypt's security forces, after Daesh claimed responsibility for the twin bombings that struck worshippers attending the Palm Sunday mass.

"Alongside the sorrow and grief, we need to join forces against the forces of evil and terror with an iron fist", she added.

The Copts, who make up about 10 percent of Egypt's 90 million people, have been attacked by Islamists for years, more so after the military overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

"I pray for the dead and the victims".

Cardinal DiNardo also expressed the solidarity of the Church in America with the Coptic Church in Egypt, "an ancient Christian community that faces mounting persecution in its historic home from violent extremism".

Following the December bombing, Sisi said members of the jihadist cell who carried it out had been caught, but others remained on the run.

According to the Reuters report, Coptic Christians have been in Egypt since the days of ancient Rome.

Both Israel and the Islamic Hamas movement ruling neighboring Gaza condemned the bombings as well. "ISIS are deeply sectarian, that's nothing new, but they have chose to re-emphasize that aspect in Egypt over the past few months", says H.A.Hellyer, a senior non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council and the Royal United Services Institute. They suggest that ISIL, under pressure in Iraq and Syria, is trying to broaden its threat and has identified Christian communities as an easier target.

The militants recently released a video vowing to step up attacks against Christians, whom they regard as "infidels" empowering the West against Muslims.

  • Arturo Norris