Churches in Egypt have cancelled their summer activities, mainly trips to monasteries or holy sites, spiritual retreats or conventions, and in many cases trips to beaches, in response to a warning by the Interior Ministry of anticipated terrorist attacks against Copts.
The Ministry sent letters to the various Churches in Egypt explaining that investigations revealed that [Islamist] terrorist movements are planning to carry out violent attacks nationwide against the military, police, and Copts and churches.
The ministry asked the Churches to take all precautionary measures during the coming three weeks and until further notice. All trips to monasteries, spiritual conventions, or any activity that involves any type of gathering, the Ministry said, should be cancelled.
Interior Minister, General Magdy Abdel-Ghaffar said that security would be intensified on all public buildings, including churches and monasteries, all over Egypt. He said operations rooms would be set up in churches to follow on the security situation round the clock, and that security men will be aided by military men, and provided with all the resources that may need, such as weapons, equipment, armoured vehicles, police dogs and modern surveillance cameras.
The heads of the three main Churches in Egypt promptly responded to the Interior Ministry’s warning, and cancelled all summer activities. Despite the fact that the summer trips and conventions provide an invaluable outlet that combines spirituality and holidaymaking for the congregation–in the poorer districts they are the only opportunity for holidaying–the Church leaders realised that no risks could be taken.
Sources close to Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros said that the Church values the role played by security and military authorities to battle terrorism, and had thus cancelled all trips and conventions so as to in no way confuse security endeavors on the terrorism front. The same decision and sentiments were expressed by spokesmen of that Catholic and Evangelical Churches in Egypt.
Islamist suicide bombers last December and April targeted three churches in Cairo, Alexandria, and Tanta killing more than 70 Copts.
Last May, they intercepted buses heading to the Western Desert monastery of St Samuel and killed 28 Copts among them 10 children.
The Islamic terrorist group Daesh, also known as Islamic State or IS, has repeatedly threatened Copts terming them their favourite prey. Last February, they targeted individual Copts in their homes and on the streets in the North Sinai town of al-Arish, killings seven Copts in six weeks. Arish Copts were forced to leave their hometown and relocate elsewhere in Egypt.
14 July 2017