ISIS Easter Terror Wave Targets Churches - The Coptic Response May Surprise You
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JERUSALEM, Israel – Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi declared a three-month state of emergency following Sunday's terror attacks on two separate churches. The attacks left at least 44 dead and more than 120 injured.
Security cameras showed the suicide bomber outside St. Mark's Cathedral in the coastal city of Alexandria before he killed 11 people. Coptic Pope Tawadros, who led the Palm Sunday service, left before the bomber blew himself up at the entrance, killing three policemen who denied him entry.
Two hours earlier, a bomb went off inside St. George's Church in Tanta, about 60 miles north of Cairo, during the Palm Sunday service.
After the carnage, there was chaos.
"I got up, and saw bodies all around me. I climbed onto the pews and got out using a side door; then I heard screams," one parishioner said.
ISIS later claimed responsibility for both deadly attacks. The terror group warned of more to come. Earlier in the year, ISIS released a video calling Egyptian Christians "infidels" and their "favorite prey."
Some victims of Sunday's attack directed their anger against the government.
"The authorities have received warnings before that the church is being targeted," one person said. "Why weren't proper measures taken to protect people?"
The attacks came on Palm Sunday when Christians worldwide celebrate the entrance of Jesus Christ to Jerusalem before his death, burial and resurrection one week later on Easter.
CBN News talked with a Christian leader in Cairo.
"They have not responded in anger or by taking up weapons. In fact from the top leadership of the Coptic church all the way down to laity, they have turned the other cheek," Dick Brogden told CBN News. "They have exhibited the spirit of Jesus. They have said we are willing to suffer for Jesus sake.
"So even though it's been difficult, we just laud our brothers and sisters in this land at the dignity and the patience and the grace they have exhibited during their times of suffering," he said.
CBN News producer Steve Little talks with Middle East Bureau Chief Chris Mitchell about why ISIS is targeting Egypt's churches and how Christians there are responding.
Meanwhile, President Donald Trump spoke with Egypt's president, expressing his condolences to the families of those who lost loved ones in Sunday's "heinous terrorist attacks against Christians."
He also expressed confidence in el-Sisi's commitment to protect Christians and all Egyptians.
...confidence that President Al Sisi will handle situation properly.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 9, 2017
Meanwhile, Pope Francis also sent his "deep condolences" to the Coptic church, the Coptic pope, and the nation. Francis learned of the attack during Palm Sunday observances in St. Peter's Square.
Francis plans to visit Egypt in the near future visit in what he called a solidarity visit with the Coptic Christian community. Egyptian Copts have been the target of persecution and church bombings.
Last December, ISIS claimed responsibility for a church bombing in Cairo that left 29 dead.
Egyptian Copts make up about 10 percent of the Muslim-majority country's 92 million residents.
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