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Tuesday, 18 April 2017

A quiet Easter market by scaled-back services and mourning

The nation’s Christians marked Easter scaled-back church services under tight security and in a somber mood, Reuters reports. Soldiers were stationed outside the St Mark’s and St George’s cathedrals in Alexandria and Tanta, where worshipers attended Mass one week after the two churches were bombed on Palm Sunday. “We are paying our condolences to [the bombing victims] and to their families and it is a bad situation,” one worshiper told the newswire, highlighting that the stringent security measures were only implemented after the bombings.

Bishop Macarius, head of the Coptic diocese in Minya, told Reuters he is skeptical that the recently declared three-month state of emergency imposed was adequate and said the church wanted further security guarantees. “We can consider ourselves in a wave of persecution, but the church has gone through a lot in 20 centuries … There are waves of persecution. It reaches to the highest point like a pyramid and then it goes down again … We are at a very high point.”

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi visited Pope Tawadros II at Saint Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo on Thursday to offer his condolences for Palm Sunday’s bombings, Ahram Gate reports. El Sisi also pledged to hunt down the perpetrators of the attack, according to AFP.

Tawadros visited the families of the victims of Sunday’s attacks on Saturday, Al Ahram reports. Tawadros also visited the Alexandria security directorate to extend his condolences for the policemen who were killed in the bombing at St Mark’s Coptic Church in the nation’s second-largest city.

Catholic Pope Francis expressed on Good Friday his “shame for all the scenes of devastation, destruction and drownings that have become ordinary in our lives,” according to Reuters. Francis is due in Cairo on 28 April.

French presidential candidate François Fillon also attended Easter celebrations at a Coptic church in Paris, saying in a tweet that he wanted to “stand by the Coptic community that was the victim of the barbarism of the Islamic State.”

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