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Monday, April 10, 2017

Egypt's Christians Bury Dead After IS Church Bombings on Palm Sunday Kill 44


Egyptian Christians are burying their dead a day after at least 44 people were killed in twin suicide bombings at Palm Sunday services in two separate cities.

Women wailed as caskets marked with the word "martyr" were brought into the Mar Amina church in the coastal city of Alexandria on Monday, the footage broadcast on several Egyptian channels.

Coptic priests, boy scouts, and mourners carrying flowers joined a procession into the church, the pace set by a beat of snare drums.

At least 17 people were killed at St. Mark's Cathedral in Alexandria, the historic seat of Christendom in Egypt. Another suicide attack killed at least 27 people inside St. George's Church in the Nile Delta city of Tanta.

Christians in Egypt have been targeted before in attacks by Islamist extremists. In December, 25 people died when a bomb exploded during Sunday mass in Cairo, as NPR's Bill Chappell reported. At the time it was "the deadliest attack on Egypt's Christian minority in years," he notes.

Two years ago, ISIS released a video appearing to show a mass beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya.

And on New Year's Day in 2011, a bombing at a church in Alexandria killed at least 21 people, as Jane noted.

Christians make up roughly 10 percent of Egypt's predominantly Muslim population and most Christians in Egypt are Coptic Christians, of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

Coptic Christians observe Palm Sunday and other religious holidays on a different schedule because they follow the Julian calendar, not the more widely accepted Gregorian calendar. Copts trace their ancestry back to the founding of the Church of Alexandria by St. Mark and are one of the oldest denominations in the Christian faith.

The word "Copt" comes from the an ancient Pharaonic language and roughly translates to "Egyptian." The Coptic Church, with its own clergy and a distinct pope, holds similar beliefs with the other Orthodox churches, though it diverges in some teachings, most predominantly concerning the nature of Christ.





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