Violence marks first day of Coptic Holy Week celebrations



Sun, 09 Apr 2017 - 04:36 GMT


Sun, 09 Apr 2017 - 04:36 GMT

Christians pray during Palm Sunday mass inside the Cave Cathedral or St. Sama'ans Church on the Mokattam, Cairo- Reuters

Christians pray during Palm Sunday mass inside the Cave Cathedral or St. Sama'ans Church on the Mokattam, Cairo- Reuters

Egypt woke up on Sunday to a disturbing string of terror attacks, the first at Tanta’s Mar Girgis Church where worshippers and families gathered to attend a ceremony celebrating Palm Sunday.

The explosion that ripped through the church at 9.10 a.m. took the lives of 30 people and left over 70 others injured, turning the festive celebration into a blur of screams and bloodshed.

“Terrorists chose this time of the year because they know what it means for Egyptians, it’s the start of the Week of Pain, which is a festive week,” Al Ahram Center for Strategic Studies expert Amani El Taweel told Egypt Today, adding that the attacks come in the wake of recent statements released by Bayt al-Maqdis vowing to “drain Coptic blood” from Egypt.

Last month’s threats by the same group drove many Christian families to flee the South Sinai city of Arish to Ismailia.

“The target is Egypt as a state, and [this attack proves] that even superpowers with their elaborate security measures face the challenge of the ‘lone wolf’ phenomenon of terrorism, where one or two elements carry out an operation away from the main terror organization.” El Taweel also added that “more efforts should be exerted on defying radical discourse, especially that concerning Copts of Egypt.”

The question that we always ask whenever a brutal terror attack takes place is why. Experts define terrorism as “non-state actors using force to achieve certain gains,” which means that invariably the answer to the question will always be “pressure.”

Today’s bombings can be seen as “revenge” attacks against Egyptian national security and armed forces following the successful operations carried out in Gabal El-Halal in Sinai, where terrorist groups lost strategic territory.

From a strategic point of view, the governorate of Gharbiya, and the city of Tanta in particular, is one of the most politically engaged of Egyptian governorates, showing a healthy voter turnout during both the parliamentary and presidential elections.

The price of democracy, of choosing to preserve identity over extremism, is punishment.
“The reason is to weaken Egypt as a state and Islamists are trying to weaken Egypt’s economic and political plans for stability and development,” El Taweel maintains.

“Targeting the Copts in particular is an attempt to incite civil war or division—they’re trying to export a negative image of Egypt to the international community as being incapable of securing minorities on its land.”

The easiest thing to do would be to blame security measures, but despite terrorist acts aiming to weaken the nation, Egypt chooses to keep strong.

Instead, the government says that “Egypt chooses to try and defeat those who choose hate over love and killing over cooperating.” Undoubtedly terrorist attacks hurt Egypt’s interests economically, but never socially. Egyptians always tend to unite in crises, and work on healing their pain together.



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