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Egypt: Solemn Easter celebrations as mourning continues for bomb victims
16 April 2017
Easter services were held under tight security in churches across Egypt, as Christians continue to mourn those who were killed in the two church bombings on Palm Sunday.
An Open Doors contact spoke to Father Stephanos Samy, one the leaders of Saint George church in Tanta, where one of the bomb attacks took place. He described how Easter would be celebrated with a solemn service this year: "We want to respect the feelings of the families of those who died. We won't have any festivities and we will not decorate the church. Instead we will use the day for condolences and visiting the injured and the families of the deceased. In the evening we'll have a simple service in church."
However, he felt that bombings had not stopped people from attending church. He said, "Many people have attended the prayers of Holy week this week in our church. The attacks didn't scare away the Christians from the church, in fact these events made them more determined to attend."
The security has been upgraded to restore a sense of security for those attending the church. "Security units and police are present near every church in Tanta. Furthermore there are explosive experts and police dogs. Everyone who wants to visit the church will first have to identify himself and pass through the explosion detection device.
"These terrorists want to install a spirit of sadness and defeat among us. But we mustn't despair. We are sure and confident that after each hard time, a better time will follow. After every night there is a day."
Easter services in Cairo and Alexandria
A hospital in Cairo assigned one of the halls of the hospital to hold an Easter service for the injured victims of the bombing at St. George's Church in Tanta. Some participated sitting in wheelchairs.
In Saint Mark's Cathedral in Alexandria, the other church which was attacked, the deacons carried pictures of the seven Christians who were killed during an Easter service.
In Saint Mark's Cathedral in Cairo, Coptic Pope Tawadros II, who narrowly escaped the bombing in Alexandria, led the Easter service on Saturday night (15 April). The cathedral was full of worshipers; they had to pass through three metal detectors to enter, and policemen and soldiers stood guard in the compound and on the streets outside.
Fathy Anwar, a Christian resident in Cairo, told our contact: "We don't feel any joy this Easter, all of us are very sad about what happened to our brothers and sisters in Tanta and Alexandria. We pray for the families of all who were martyred in these two church bombings that God comfort all of them."
Persecution in Egypt
Egypt is 21 on the Open Doors 2017 World Watch List. Egyptian Christians live in a deeply polarised society, caught between secular nationalists and radical Islamists. Following the ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood in 2013, which many Christians were perceived as supporting, radical Islamists have violently targeted believers. Christians also face discrimination from the secular government: though they make up ten per cent of Egypt's population, they are not considered equal citizens and face restrictive legislation. Converts to Christianity also face rejection and isolation from their communities because of their new faith.
In cooperation with local churches and other partnering ministries, Open Doors supports the church in Egypt through literacy training and education projects, youth and family ministry, advocacy support, medical outreach, women's empowerment training and ministry to widows.
- For comfort for those who mourn in Egypt
- For healing for those who were injured in the bomb attacks
- For protection, strength and courage for Christians in Egypt
- For God to change the hearts of those who are attacking Egypt's Christians and turn them to Himself.
More News from Egypt:
- 'We are Christians' - How the tragic bus attack unfolded
- Over 20 Coptic Christians killed and 27 wounded
- Pope Francis visits Egypt despite security concerns
- Two widowed by Palm Sunday attacks share memories of their husbands
- At least 49 killed in Palm Sunday church blasts
Find out more about persecution in Egypt.