Coptic Christians mourn victims of Cairo cathedral attack

Twenty-five were killed on Sunday, mostly women and children. The government does not protect the Christian minority well enough, protesters say. Islamic radicals target their homes and businesses.

The Guardian, BBC · CAIRO · 12 DECEMBER 2016 · 09:58 CET

Egyptian security forces examine the scene inside St Mark’s Cathedral following Sunday’s bombing. / AP,
Egyptian security forces examine the scene inside St Mark’s Cathedral following Sunday’s bombing. / AP

Egypt has declared three days of mourning on Sunday after a bombing at a chapel adjacent to Egypt’s main Coptic Christian cathedral killed 25 people and wounded another 49.

The majority of victims are women and children.

Video footage carried by regional media showed the interior of the church littered with broken and scattered furniture, along with blood and clothing on the floor.

“This is an injury to all Egyptians,” said Father Boules Haliem, spokesman for the Coptic Church of Egypt, according to the BBC. “This is about more than the Coptic community, this is an attack on all Egyptians.”

The UN Security Council also condemned the attack. 


Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi encouraged Muslims and Coptic Christians to band together “to emerge victorious in the war against terrorism, which is the battle of all Egyptians”. But radical Muslim groups have been putting pressure on Christians in the country for decades, and businesses and homes of Christians were torched in November.


Christians protest in front of Cairo's Coptic Cathedral after an explosion inside the cathedral in Cairo, Egypt December 11, 2016. / Reuters

After the attack, many Coptic Christians gathered outside the Cathedral Christians gathered to show anger at the attack, the worst in years. “As long as any Egyptian blood is cheap, down with any president”, a large group of young men chanted.

The government doesn’t protect us. They can’t protect us against terrorism in general”, one of the protestors said, according to The Guardian.

“Lots of Christians supported the current regime out of fear of being targeted by Islamist extremists,” said Mina Thabet, an expert on religious minorities at the Cairo-based Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms. This support could now dissipate.



Coptic Christians make up about 10% of Egypt's population. Copts believe that their Church dates back to around 50 AD, when the Apostle Mark is said to have visited Egypt. Mark is regarded as the first Pope of Alexandria - the head of their church.

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