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Why Coptic Church Cuts Back on Easter Services

04-15-2017
egyptianchristians

Churches in Egypt are cutting back on Easter services after last week's deadly terror attacks on Palm Sunday. 
 
Church officials said that the Christian holiday will be celebrated in a more subdued tone after more than 45 people were killed during suicide bombings at churches in Alexandria and Tanta. 

Church leaders have canceled some church events saying only prayer will be held out of respect for those who were killed by Islamic extremists.  

Believers did attend Good Friday services, but not before passing through metal detectors and police guards. 

Rafiq Bishry, head of Saint Mark's Cathedral organizational committee, told Reuters that he was surprised at the number of people who had come to the service. 

"We expected that people would be too scared to attend prayers but there was no need for our expectations because there are a lot of people here," he said. "This is a clear message to the whole world that we are not afraid."

The Islamic state did claim responsibility for the deadly attacks. 

This first bomb went off inside St. George's Church in Tanta, about 60 miles north of Cairo, during the Palm Sunday service. 
Security camera footage showed the second suicide bomber outside St. Mark's Cathedral in the coastal city of Alexandria before he killed 11 people.  

Coptic Pope Tawadros, who led the Palm Sunday service, left before the bomber blew himself up at the entrance, killing three policemen who denied him entry.   

Egypt's Ministry of Interior said the bomber in Alexandria belonged to the same terror cell that killed 30 people in a chapel next to St. Mark's Cathedral in December, NBC News reports.

The terrorist group has warned that there will be more attacks.

"They have never been targeted in the way that they are now," Steven A. Cook, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations, told NBC News. "Egypt is extremely dangerous for Copts in ways it hasn't been dangerous before."
            
Coptic Christians make up about 10 percent of Egypt's 83 million majority-Muslim population.

Egypt's government has issued a state of emergency for the next three months. 

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