Mar Girgis Church in Tanta/Mohamed al-Hosary Mar Girgis Church in Tanta/Mohamed al-Hosary

Palm Sunday attacks challenge security measures at Egyptian churches

Thu, Apr. 13, 2017
April 13, 2017: The Coptic Orthodox Church on Thursday set new security measures to ensure the safety of churchgoers following Palm Sunday attacks while Human Rights Watch (HRW) pointed to the “inadequacy of police protection.”

The new security measures to be applied across all churches it is affiliated with: Bags will no longer be allowed inside churches and churchgoers are prohibited from being present in the churchyard. Anyone entering the church grounds must present an ID to the ecclesiastical scouts. No weapons are allowed inside churches, regardless of who is carrying the firearms and everyone will be subject to inspection. Cars are no longer allowed into church yards.

An article published on the HRW website retraced the two attacks that targeted Mar Girgis church in Tanta and Alexandria’s Coptic Orthodox Church, through the testimonies of eyewitnesses and parishioners at the churches.

“Police had not taken serious steps to secure the church for Palm Sunday, though they had defused an explosive device in the street next to the church just 11 days earlier,” HWR reported, quoting members of Mar Girgis Church and one of the pastors.

The article added that “the church’s metal detector rarely worked and that the police guards rarely inspected the bags or clothing of people entering the church,” based on the testimony of a church member who chose to remain anonymous. “The whole problem is about the protection of the church,” he said.

Meanwhile, political science professor and expert Tarek Fahmy told Egypt Today “there was no security fault that led to the occurrence of the recent terrorist attacks,” adding that the Ministry of Interior “works according to a special security technique and they follow it precisely.”

“What most people don’t know or forget is that there is no security system all over the world that provides complete security—if so why have European countries and the U.S. itself suffered terrorist attacks?” Fahmy queried.

The Egyptian government has so far not issued an official response to HWR’s Thursday accusations. However, Egypt has repeatedly objected to recent foreign criticism to its human rights policies.

“The human rights status in Egypt abides by clear constitutional commitments and is being monitored by national Egyptian institutions,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid said early March in response to a report by the U.S. State Department slamming human rights abuses in Egypt.
 
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