Egypt declares state of emergency

Egypt declares state of emergency

Egypt's President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has announced a three-month state of emergency after attacks on two Coptic churches that left at least 44 dead. The measure allows authorities..

Egypt's President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi has announced a three-month state of emergency after attacks on two Coptic churches that left at least 44 dead. The measure allows authorities to make arrests without warrants and search people's homes. It needs to be approved by parliament before it is implemented.

So-called Islamic State (IS) said it was behind the blasts in Tanta and Alexandria on Palm Sunday. The group has targeted Copts in Egypt recently and warns of more attacks.

Coptic Christians

Coptic Christians are a significant minority in Egypt, with between six and 11 million members of the Church. Copts claims they face discrimination and play a lesser part in Egyptian public life than their numbers justify. There have also been violent attacks on Copts and their churches by Islamists.

The Coptic Orthodox Church is the main Christian Church in Egypt. While most Copts live in Egypt, the Church has about a million members outside the country. Copts believe that their Church dates back to around 50 AD, when the Apostle Mark is said to have visited Egypt.

The Church separated from other Christian denominations at the Council of Chalcedon (451 AD) in a dispute over the human and divine nature of Jesus Christ.

Analysis

Hours after the attack, police stopped the bomber from entering the St Mark's Coptic church in Alexandria, also in the north. He detonated his explosives outside, leaving 17 dead, including several police officers.

Jihadist group made a statement saying, “Crusaders and their apostate allies should know the bill between us and them is very big and they will pay it with rivers of blood from their children, god willing. Wait for us, for we will wait for you.”

The blasts came weeks before an expected visit by Pope Francis intended to show support for the country's Christians, who make up about 10% of Egypt's population and have long complained of being vulnerable and marginalised.

Assessment

With the rise of violent jihadism in parts of Egypt, the sense of precariousness has increased in recent years. The community's trust in the state's ability and willingness to protect them will now be even more deeply shaken after the attacks.

The war against the jihadists would be elongated and sore, the state of emergency seems to come into force after all legal and constitution steps are taken. 

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