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Egypt beefs up security outside churches ahead of Easter
February 22 2018, 04:32 | Irvin Gilbert
Sunday's bombings, claimed by Daesh (ISIS), are the latest escalation by the extremist group - which recently vowed to step up its attacks against Egypt's embattled Christian minority.
"The pope's mission is to be beside his brothers at the time of difficulty". In Alexandria, a suicide bomber intending on entering the cathedral detonated explosives after being asked to walk through a metal detector.
CAIRO (AP) - Outside of Cairo's St. Mark's Cathedral, the seat of the Coptic Orthodox Pope, a dozen high-ranking police officers are stationed on all entrances, searching cars and scanning the area, as security measures are visibly beefed up outside churches before Easter prayers on Sunday. "In the same breath, we have no animosity towards anybody", he said. "In the evening, they also came for the prayers of the Holy Week", Father Grieche said.
Egypt has seen a spate of attacks since 2013, when the army deposed Morsi, the country's first democratically elected leader, following mass protests against his divisive rule.
Hours after the attacks, Interior Minister Magdy Abd al-Ghaffar responsible for security in Gharbia governorate, which includes Tanta, moving them to new assignments.
The aftermath of an explosion that took place at a Coptic church on Sunday in Tanta, Egypt, April 9, 2017.
The bombings in the two churches bear a striking resemblance to the bombing in another church in Cairo on December 11, 2016, also a suicide bombing, which killed 26 people and injured 49. He recalled watching him singing at the service before the attack at St. George's Church in Tanta.
"These acts will not harm the unity and cohesion of the people", he was later quoted as saying by state media.
Grand Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, head of Egypt's Al-Azhar - the leading centre of learning in Sunni Islam - condemned the attack, calling it a "despicable terrorist bombing that targeted the lives of innocents". "It is a continuous battle, which will bring more victims like the ones we lost from the police, the judiciary, and the Christians", Al-Sisi said, adding that "successful military strikes against militant groups in Sinai have pushed terrorists to seek new locations".
Egypt is home to the Middle East's largest Christian community. On behalf of all USA bishops, the cardinal expressed "our deepest sadness" for all those killed and injured, and their loved ones.
The terrorism, Sisi said, "will increase their determination to move past obstacles and achieve security".
Yet seen from within Egypt itself, there's another front upon which people are anxious to see how Francis will thread the needle: The proper Christian attitude towards President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and, more broadly, the military-political complex that's ruled Egypt nearly uninterruptedly since the 1950s.
He is wrong - by arguing that this is a political, not a religious, act, he not only ignores what IS itself has said, but denies the nature of the terrorist threats that Copts face due to their religious affiliation.
"We are seeing simultaneous attacks, based on strong information, targeting big churches across the country".
Coptic Christians have put their faith in el-Sissi, who championed himself as the bulwark against Islamists.