Egypt Arrests Dozens After Deadly ISIS Palm Sunday Terror Attacks

Addressing concerns about abuse of freedoms, Sissi spokesperson says Egypt has been in state of emergency for 30 years, so Egyptian people would have to be prepared to take steps to fight terrorism for three months

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
File photo: Egyptian soldiers guard a street near a church in Cairo, Egypt, April 10, 2017.
File photo: Egyptian soldiers guard a street near a church in Cairo, Egypt, April 10, 2017.Credit: Nariman El-Mofty/AP
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

More than 30 suspects have been arrested following two suicide attacks on Coptic churches in Egypt on Palm Sunday, in which more than 45 people were killed.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for both attacks, one in Alexandria and the other in the Nile Delta city of Tanta. The Alexandria blast was at St Mark’s Coptic Cathedral and the Tanta explosion was at St George’s Church.

Egyptian reports say the intelligence forces are working on identifying the two suicide bombers.

On Sunday, the Tanta police also defused a bomb that had been placed by the police station in the city, which is next to a hospital.

A relative of one of the victims stands near the Coptic church that was bombed on Sunday in Tanta, Egypt April 10, 2017. Credit: Mohamed Abd El Ghany, Reuters

Following the attacks, the Egyptian parliament on Tuesday unanimously approved Egyptian president Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi's decision to declare a three-month state of emergency.

Ending emergency law had been a key demand during the 2011 uprising that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak, who had imposed a 30-year state of emergency to crush opposition. Its reinstatement will not affect day-to-day life, promised parliament speaker Ali Abdelaal, explaining it as a necessary measure at a time that requires exceptional laws.

Perhaps addressing concerns about abuse of freedoms, Abdelaal, added that Egypt had been in a state of emergency for 30 years, so the Egyptian people would have to be prepared to take steps to fight terrorism for three months.

Abdelaal also warned the press to be careful in its reporting, echoing comments by Sisi after the bombings: "It is up to all of us to protect this nation. This is a national and constitutional duty," he said.

Praying in solidarity with Egyptian Copts, Ein Dor Church, Haifa, Israel. Credit: Haaretz

Sissi also ordered the establishment of a supreme council to combat terrorism and religious radicalism, which will include representatives of all the ministries.

ISIS meanwhile threatened more attacks against Egypt's Christians, stating online, "Let the crusaders and apostates know that they will pay a huge bill with their son's blood."

Following the attacks, Egyptian army forces stepped up activity in the northern Sinai, where ISIS forces have been active, and reported exchanges of life fire with terrorists around el-Arish and in Rafah during the last two days.

Egyptian security forces claim that in seven armed terrorists en route to carry out another attack in a Coptic Christians area were killed in the el-Arish incident.

Egyptian security forces had taken much flak following the twin attacks on the Copts and now face two new challenges: Easter prayers and, towards month-end, the pope's visit. On Sunday the Vatican announced that Pope Francis' plans to visit Egypt remain unchanged: if anything his arrival is even more important, for the sake of his message of peace.

On Tuesday evening, prayers in solidarity with the Copts of Egypt, who are thought to constitute about 10% of the Egyptian population, were held at the Elias Catholic Church on Ein Dor Street in Haifa, Israel.

Meanwhile churches in the heavily Coptic city of Minya, for example, canceled Easter celebrations beyond liturgical prayers in mourning for the Palm Sunday deaths

With reporting by Reuters.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer

Newly appointed Israeli ambassador to Chile, Gil Artzyeli, poses for a group picture alongside Rabbi Yonatan Szewkis, Chilean deputy Helia Molina and Gerardo Gorodischer, during a religious ceremony in a synagogue in Vina del Mar, Chile last week.

Chile Community Leaders 'Horrified' by Treatment of Israeli Envoy

Queen Elizabeth attends a ceremony at Windsor Castle, in June 2021.

Over 120 Countries, but Never Israel: Queen Elizabeth II's Unofficial Boycott