Trump speaks with Egyptian president on church bombings
21 April, 2017, 18:18
Two Coptic churches were bombed last Christmas, killing 24 and wounding 50. A minority is divided between Coptic Catholics and various Coptic Protestant branches.
Women mourn for the victims of the blast at the Coptic Christian Saint Mark's Church in Alexandria the previous day during a funeral procession at the Monastery of Marmina in the city of Borg El-Arab, east of Alexandria on April 10, 2017.
The Minya province has the highest Coptic Christian population in the country and Christians there traditionally hold Easter Vigil services on Saturday evening and then spend Easter Sunday on large meals and family visits.
"Worshippers, no matter what their belief is, should always be free to pray in peace", she stated.
"Egypt's Copts put their trust in God and not in security measures", he said.
Joe Stork of Human Rights Watch said el-Sissi "seems to think that more repression of all Egyptians is the simple answer to terrorist attacks".
The Palm Sunday attacks, the single deadliest day for Egypt's Christians in decades, rattled the community and prompted messages of support from overseas, including from Pope Francis, who is set to visit Egypt in the coming weeks, and President Donald Trump. One targeted StGeorge's Coptic church in the northern city of Tanta, where 27 people were killed, the health ministry said.
Although Copts have faced attacks by Muslim neighbors, who have burnt their homes and churches in poor rural areas, in the past, the community has felt increasingly insecure since Islamic State spread through Iraq and Syria in 2014. "Muslims and Christians are one".
Pro-Morsi Islamists accused the Christian community of supporting his overthrow.
Al-Sisi met Pope Tawadros II, asserting that "all state apparatuses are exerting utmost efforts to hunt down the perpetrators of the abhorrent acts and to bring them to justice as soon as possible", a presidential statementread on Thursday.
The ministry added that the attacker is linked to an extremist Islamist terrorist group led by a wanted terrorist leader from Qena.
The eyewitnesses said that police had not taken serious steps to secure the church even though they had defused an explosive device near the church 11 days earlier, HRW said.
The Islamic State militant group has claimed responsibility for the suicide bombings of the Alexandria and Tanta churches, which killed 46 people and injured dozens more.