Egypt: Islamic State fans flame of sectarianism

Egypt: Islamic State fans flame of sectarianism”

The Islamic State terror group claimed responsibility for bombing attacks at two Coptic Christian churches in Egypt as worshipers gathered to mark Palm Sunday, one of the Christian calendar's holiest days. The group that makes up around 10 percent of the country's 82 million population has been repeatedly targeted in the past.

The Palm Sunday attacks, the single deadliest day for Christians in decades, rattled the community and prompted messages of support from overseas, including from Pope Francis, who is set to visit Egypt in the coming weeks, and President Donald Trump.

The attacks were claimed by Daesh, and the group has threatened more attacks against Egypt's Christian minority. Many of Egypt's Christians are Coptic, a centuries.

According to state-run news agency Al-Ahram, the death toll from the Palm Sunday bombing in Egypt has risen to a total of 49 as of Monday, CNN reported.

The combined attacks represented one of the deadliest attacks on Coptic Christians in years.

General view of the coffins of victims of Sunday's church attack in Tanta, Egypt, April 9, 2017. 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. Authorities, however, have not yet confirmed this information.

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.

Reacting before the second bombing in Alexandria, Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid called the attack in Tanta "a failed attempt against our unity".

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Copts in Egypt have faced persecution and discrimination that has spiked since the toppling of Hosni Mubarak's regime in 2011.

The latest IS attacks were a blow to el-Sissi's image and left many Christians doubting whether he is capable of protecting them.

A three-month state of emergency is going to be declared once legal and constitutional measures have been completed said President el-Sisi. "We entrust all those who suffer and who have perished into the arms of the crucified and Risen Christ", he said.

The Egyptian President convened a meeting with national defence council in the evening following the Sunday attacks.

Vatican City: Pope Francis will visit Egypt as planned this month despite the weekend bombings, Monsignor Angelo Becciu said, adding, "There is no doubt the Holy Father will maintain his offer to go to Egypt" on April 28 and 29.

Egypt's Christian minority has often been targeted by Islamist militants.

Al-Ahram Arabic reported that security forces also dismantled two explosive devices at Sidi Abdel Rahim Mosque in Tanta, a city of more than 400,000 about 80 miles southeast of Alexandria. The parliament, expected to approve the decision, wants Prime Minister Sherif Ismail to explain the reasons for the move.

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