Egyptian Coptic Christians observed Easter Mass under tight security on Saturday with the ancient minority still reeling from twin church bombings that killed dozens just days before.
In Saint Mark’s Cathedral، where Coptic Pope Tawadros II led the mass، worshippers passed through three metal detectors as policemen and soldiers stood guard in the sprawling compound and on the streets outside. “We pray for peace، to spread in hearts and minds،” Tawadros said in a speech during the mass، describing the bombings as “beyond the boundaries of humanity.”
Two Islamic State group suicide bombers struck two churches north of Cairo last Sunday، killing 45 people in the worst attack on Copts in recent memory.
Police cordoned off roads leading to the cathedral compound، where another suicide bomber had attacked last December، killing 29 people. The government declared a state of emergency and called in the army to protect “vital” installations following last Sunday’s suicide bombings in Tanta and Alexandria. The Islamic State group، which claimed all three attacks، has threatened more. Following the Palm Sunday attacks، the church had said it would scale back Easter celebrations. “Tanta and Alexandria created a big shock، for all of Egypt،” Coptic Church spokesman Boulos Halim said. Easter، which along with Christmas is one of Christianity’s most important events، marks what followers believe was the resurrection of Christ on the third day after his crucifixion. In Egypt، Copts break a 55-day fast، abstaining from all animal products، following Saturday’s mass.