Egypt is still reeling from terrorist attacks carried out by the Islamic State on two Christian churches on Palm Sunday. One of the churches was St. George’s church in the city of Tanta, where attackers succeeded in killing 28 churchgoers, and another was St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria, historically the most important place for Christians in Egypt, where they killed 17.
These acts of terrorism were not random, notes the Los Angeles Daily News, and the Islamic State claimed responsibility and named the two attackers. LADN says that, “The extremist group had recently threatened to step up attacks against Egypt’s Coptic minority, one of the oldest Christian communities in the world.”
Among those murdered was Beshoy, the son of Reverend Danial Maher of the Tanta church. Beshoy was 23 and served as a deacon in the church.
State of Emergency
The attacks triggered a state of emergency instituted by President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, although many Egyptians don’t see this as a good thing. Under the state of emergency, it allows for abuses of the state, among which are arrests without warrants.
Mohammad Arafat, leader of the liberal Egyptian Social Democratic party, says that the state of emergency not only fails to reduce terrorism, but emboldens it. Members of the party are less willing to give el-Sissi the benefit of the doubt, given that he is seen as a warlord.
The Palm Sunday attacks constitute the single deadliest day for Egypt’s Christians in decades, eliciting messages of unity from people around the world, and people changing their Facebook profiles in a show of solidarity for the victims.
Even Pope Francis responded to the attacks, and plans on visiting Egypt in the near future. For his part, President Trump referred to the attacks in Egypt as “heinous.” However, that is juxtaposed with how Trump views Christianity vs. Islam. He remained notably silent in the wake of numerous attacks on Jewish communities of faith, and reiterated after his election that Christian refugees should receive more prioritization than Muslim ones.
Given these instances, it could seem that he is only responding aggressively to threats to Christians domestically and around the world, rather than making it a priority to stand against terror.
Egypt, and the world, can only wait to see what lasting effects the attacks have on the region, though, for the victims and their families, the immediate impact is already known.