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Churches in south Egypt to forgo Easter celebrations

People are seen at the damaged Saint George church after a bombing struck inside the church in Egypt on April 9, 2017. (İbrahim Ramadan/Anadolu Agency)
People are seen at the damaged Saint George church after a bombing struck inside the church in Egypt on April 9, 2017. (İbrahim Ramadan/Anadolu Agency)

Egyptian churches in the south of the country will not hold Easter celebrations in mourning for the 45 Coptic Christians that were killed on Palm Sunday from twin bombings of churches in two cities.

In a statement released yesterday, the Minya Coptic Orthodox Diocese said that celebrations will only be limited to the liturgical prayers “without any festive manifestations”. The Minya province in the south has the highest concentration of Coptic Christians in the country.

Sunday’s bombings in Tanta and Alexandria were later claimed by Daesh and are part of an escalation of attacks by the extremist group which has vowed to increase its attacks against Egypt’s Christian minority.

Read: Pope visit to Egypt to go ahead despite blasts

Egypt’s parliament approved the three month state of emergency yesterday after Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi declared the state of emergency following the attacks.

Addressing Parliament yesterday, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said the state of emergency was essential to fight “terrorist groups bent on undermining the country”.

The emergency law is aimed at enemies of the homeland and citizens, and it will grant state apparatuses greater ability, flexibility and speed to confront an evil enemy that has not hesitated to kill and wreak havoc without justification or discrimination.

The state of emergency’s return will raise concern amongst Egyptians who will view it as a return to the pre-2011 police state and what rights activists call the worst crackdown in their history.

“By implementing the state of emergency almost all the guarantees that exist for rights and freedoms in the constitution will be halted,” Nasser Amin, head of an Egyptian-run organisation working to advance judicial independence, explained.

The law grants the executive branch sweeping powers, allowing it to shutdown companies and media outlets and halt demonstrations and monitor personal communications without prior judicial approval.

The Arab Network for Human Rights Information said the law would not achieve security and was intended to “further suppress freedom of opinion, expression and belief, and to crack down on human rights defenders.”

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