Egypt beefs up security outside churches ahead of Easter

Source: Associated Press

By HEBA AFIFY

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.

The usually festive occasion is tainted with fearful apprehension after twin bombings in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria killed 45 people this week at churches on Palm Sunday, which marks the start of the Coptic Christian Holy Week.

The increased security measures on display outside churches across the country are meant to restore a sense of security for Egypt’s Copts amid a war on the embattled minority declared by the Islamist State group, which claimed Sunday’s bombings. However, the enhanced security can do little against the effect of repeated attacks on Coptic churches in recent years.

 “No security measure can stop a suicide bomber with jihadist beliefs from blowing up a church,” Coptic engineer Emad Thomas told The Associated Press on Wednesday. However, he believes that Copts will still attend prayers on Sunday as they have continued to go to church despite earlier attacks. “Egypt’s Copts put their trust in God and not in security measures,” he said.

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