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Egypt Attacked Twice on Palm Sunday

Melina Joseph, Contributing Writer

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Palm Sunday, a Christian celebration for many, was marked by twin church bombings in Egypt.

The blasts at St. George’s Church in Tanta and St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria occurred yesterday, hours apart. According to Egyptian officials, the explosions left 44 dead and over 128 injured.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility via its Aamaq news agency, an action following their previous warnings regarding escalating
attacks on Christians.

Video footage on both attacks were found. In Tanta, a bomb hidden under a church pew was detonated. In Alexandria, a suicide bomber intending on entering the cathedral detonated explosives after being asked to walk through a metal detector.

Graphic images of the attacks quickly spread on social media, depicting blood-splattered stone pillars and scattered bodies.

Fadi Sami, who was sitting in the Alexandria cathedral, originally told CNN that “We were just singing and suddenly in a blink of (an) eye,
smoke, fire everywhere. I didn’t realize what’s happening until I saw blood and organs of our friends scattered over the ground.”

In a speech aired on state television, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi declared three days of national mourning as well as a three-month state of emergency, which expands police powers of arrest, surveillance, and seizures.

The terrorism, Sisi said, “will increase their determination to move past obstacles and achieve security.”

President Donald Trump expressed his condolences on Twitter, writing “So sad to hear of the terrorist attack in Egypt,” and that he was confident Sisi would handle the situation properly.

Less than a week prior, President Trump had met with the Egyptian leader at the White House to discuss the fight against radical groups.

The United States embassy in Cairo also condemned the attacks in two statements, pledging solidarity with Egypt against terrorism.

“We grieve with all Egyptians as we express our most heartfelt condolences to the victims and their families, and we hope for a speedy recovery for those injured in the attack,” the embassy wrote.

Pope Francis addressed the attacks on Palm Sunday in St. Peter’s Square, expressing “deep condolences” to Coptic patriarch Tawadros II. He is expected to visit Egypt in coming weeks, which has raised security concerns.

Bodies have been buried since late Sunday, as Christians both mourn and raise frustrations over law enforcement security.

Approximately 10 percent of Egyptians are Christian, the largest minority in the Middle East. Many have complained of persecution and discrimination in the past, as the group has been the target of a number of attacks.

Last week, local media reported that a bomb at St. George’s Church had been found and defused.

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Egypt Attacked Twice on Palm Sunday