ready for Easter mass despite attacks
Faithful will spend large
part of Easter eve going through arduous
security checks outside places of worship, just
days after deadly attack against Christians.
Egyptian Copt crosses wrists in defiance after
IS attack on country's religious minority
CAIRO - Egyptian Copts will celebrate
Easter mass on Saturday, marking one of
Christianity's most joyous occasions just
days after the deadliest attacks in living
memory against the country's religious
The faithful will spend a large part of
Easter eve going through arduous security
checks outside places of worship, after twin
Palm Sunday bombings killed 45 people in two
cities north of Cairo.
The government has declared a state of
emergency and called in the army to protect
"vital" installations following the suicide
bombings in Tanta and Alexandria, which were
claimed by the Islamic State group.
"Security has indeed improved so much as it
seems the situation needed to be tightened
up a lot," said Coptic Church spokesman
Coptic Pope Tawadros II will lead Easter
mass in Cairo's Saint Mark's Cathedral,
while the church said celebrations this year
would be scaled back.
"Tanta and Alexandria created a big shock,
for all of Egypt," Halim said.
Easter, which along with Christmas is one of
Christianity's most important events, marks
the resurrection of Christ three days after
followers believe he was crucified.
In Egypt, Copts break a 55-day fast
abstaining from all animal products
following Saturday's mass.
The Sunday bombings were the latest in a
series of attacks against Egypt's Copts,
which make up around 10 percent of the
In December, an IS suicide bomber struck a
Cairo church, killing 29 people.
Halim said the church will forgo Sunday
morning's traditional celebrations, and
instead members will visit the families of
"martyrs" as well as those wounded in the
blasts, including police officers.
"Even if we are in pain over them parting
their bodies... the happiness of
resurrection helps us overcome feelings of
pain," said Halim.
- Further attacks feared -
IS, which has waged an insurgency in the
north of the Sinai Peninsula that has seen
scores of attacks on security forces, has
issued repeated calls for atrocities against
One Copt who gave his name only as John said
he will attend Easter mass despite the
heightened security risk.
He plans to go to a church in the relative
safety of the capital, but admitted "if I
were somewhere else outside of Cairo, like a
village, I would not want my relatives to go
and I would be worried about attending".
In a village south of Cairo, some Christians
were reportedly prevented from holding Good
Friday prayers, and police deployed to
prevent further unrest.
Christians in Koum el-Loufy were attacked by
Muslims after they tried to pray in an
abandoned home on Thursday, after which a
mob set fire to four homes nearby, according
to police officials.
While the village boasts several mosques,
Christians there have been prevented from
building a church, Ishak Ibrahim, a
researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for
Personal Rights said.
"Probably they won't be able to pray on
Saturday either," said Ibrahim.
"There is a general climate where Copts are
being persecuted and unfortunately the state
just tries to stop violence from spreading,
they don't solve the root cause of the
Middle East Online