A day after brazen ISIS attacks killed dozens at two Coptic Christian churches on Palm Sunday, Egypt’s Cabinet announced a three-month state of emergency, a measure designed to help authorities root out the terror network.
A stunned nation watched funerals for victims of the bombings on national TV and citizens raised questions and fears about what some consider lax security at churches.
“The state of emergency means absolutely nothing to me,” said Andrew Abdel Shaheed, an Egyptian Copt in Brussels.
“It means that people will get trailed for no reason and arrested with no warrants, but what does it do for the future of Egyptians? I personally do not feel safe to return to Egypt.”
The Sunday strikes, which targeted Egypt’s persecuted and vulnerable Christian minority on the first day of the faith’s Holy Week leading up to Easter, left at least 45 dead, Egypt’s health ministry said Monday.
At least 28 people died in a bomb blast inside a church in the northern city of Tanta, according to the ministry.
In Alexandria, 17 people, including civilians and police officers, were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a Coptic church, the ministry said. At least 125 people were injured in the attacks.
The Cabinet will allocate 100,000 Egyptian pounds ($5,530) compensation to families of each victim in Tanta and Alexandria’s church bombings, state TV said.
ISIS, which claimed responsibility, warned of more attacks in a statement. “The Crusaders and their apostate followers must be aware that the bill between us and them is very large, and they will be paying it like a river of blood from their sons, if God is willing,” the group said in Arabic.
After the bombings, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi declared a period of mourning. The government formed a council to counter terror and extremism.
“The attack will not undermine the resolve and true will of the Egyptian people to counter the forces of evil,” the President said in a statement. The Egyptian Cabinet, on its website Monday, said it had approved a three-month, nationwide state of emergency that went into effect at 1 p.m. Cairo time (7 a.m. ET).
“The state of emergency allows both the armed forces and the police to execute those procedures necessary to combat the threats of terrorism and its financing, maintain security around the country and protect public and private property, as well as preserving the lives of citizens,” the statement said.
The country’s parliament must now approve the move within seven days for the three-month initiative to remain in effect. The vote had been set for Monday but has been postponed until Tuesday. The parliament, expected to approve the decision, wants Prime Minister Sherif Ismail to explain the reasons for the move.
In a statement issued on the Telegram messaging platform and circulated by several ISIS supporters, the militant group identified the bombers as Egyptian nationals. Egyptian authorities have not confirmed the bombers’ nationalities.
Image Credit: AP Photo/Samer Abdallah