Egypt extends state of emergency due to persistence of anti-Christian attacks

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's decision to extend for another three months the nationwide state of emergency that he declared in April has been approved by the Egyptian parliament due to the persistence of attacks targeting Christians.

(REUTERS / Amr Abdallah Dalsh)Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi speaks during a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (unseen) at the El-Thadiya presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, March 2, 2017.

Parliament speaker Ali Abdel Aal said the extended state of emergency was approved last month because there was a persistence of danger, state-run MENA News quoted him as saying. The extension will begin on the evening of July 10, Firstpost detailed.

President el-Sisi first declared a three-month state of emergency after twin church bombings shook the Coptic Christian community on Palm Sunday. The local affiliate of the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the blasts, which left at least 47 dead and 120 others injured. In December, a suicide blast at a Coptic church in Cairo killed 28 people.

Meanwhile, Coptic Christians are growing apprehensive of the president's support for their community. When Pope Francis visited the country in April, el-Sisi expressed his commitment to uphold equal rights, but the recent string of violence targeting Christians have caused them to doubt the government's capability in protecting them, The Washington Times reported.

"We are in dire need of preventive measures," Bishop Makarios of the town of Minya said. "Each month we suffer an attack that is no less horrifying than the event that preceded it."

There are also those who have criticized el-Sisi's crackdown on terrorists and say it is ineffective. Mounir Megahed, a Muslim leader of the group Egyptians Against Religious Discrimination, said the state's methods of fighting terrorism and the declaration of a state of emergency have done nothing to stop or prevent the violent attacks against Christians.

In light of the criticisms, el-Sisi promised to intensify the government's offensives against the Islamic State bases in the North Sinai. He also previously decried the effect of sectarian attacks on the image of Islam, saying violence has destroyed the reputation of his own religion to the world.

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