At Least 26 Dead In Sunday Church Bomb In Cairo

Mainly women and children are among the dead, according to early reports

One of the bombs struck the area were women and children prayed — REUTERS
Dec 11, 2016 at 5:55 AM ET

A bomb explosion during Sunday mass at two neighboring Coptic Christian churches in Cairo has killed at least 26 people and injured 35, according to the Egyptian Health Ministry.

Egyptian media reported that the bomb detonated in the women’s prayer section of the El Botroseya church, adjacent to the Abbasiya Cathedral, and that most victims were women and children. There has yet to be a claim of responsibility.

Photos from inside the church, after the explosion:

Egyptians took to Twitter in the wake of the attack to express solidarity with their Christian brethren. Some blamed Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for failing to confront a rising wave of sectarian violence that repeatedly targets the Copts, a religious minority in the country, while others speculated that the Muslim Brotherhood could have been responsible. The attack came on the same day as the holiday that celebrates the birth of the Prophet Mohammed.

Our Copt brothers are praying the price for support Sisi and the overthrowing of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Tensions between the government the minority Coptic community have been steadily rising under Sisi’s rule, whom the community initially cheered as a beacon of hope for progress and equality after the July 2013 ouster of Mohammad Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, who was taking Egypt down an increasingly Islamist route.

Copts have long complained of being restricted to second-class status, pointing to government restrictions on church constructions as evidence that the government is attempting to stifle the minority’s existence. Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch criticized a law passed in late August that allows governors to more easily deny church building permits. It sends “a message that Christians can be attacked with impunity,” he said.

Copts are the region’s largest minority and constitute about 10 percent of Egypt’s total population of more than 90 million, but their numbers have dwindled as a worsening security situation threatens their historic existence in the country.

Last May, many were shocked by a mob attack in al-Karm village in Minya in which a 70-year-old Christian woman was dragged from her home home into the dirt street, beaten and stripped naked after rumors her son had had an affair with a married Muslim woman.

Since the 2011 Arab Spring uprising, in the southern Minya province, there have been at least 77 incidents of sectarian violence targeting Copts, according to the local human rights organization Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

More than 3,100 members of the Coptic community have applied asylum in the U.S., the numbers for 2013 a near 10 times increase from 2010.