Cairo: The two deadly bombings that hit Coptic Christian community’s places of worship in two different cities in Egypt have rattled the community. This is not the first time that the community, biggest minority in Egypt has been targeted. But it is among the deadliest the community has faced and thus the increased sense of vulnerability.
Egypt is probably one of just a few Arab nations where a large number of Christian community lives side by side with an overwhelming majority of the Sunni Muslims. another country where Christians live in a large number in the Arab world is Lebanon. But it is a small country and doesn’t have much of an influence in the area. On the contrary it was seen as a client state of Syria, that is again a marginal player in the region.
The terrorist chose a day when the entire Christian community or a substantial part of it gathers in churches. If Cairo, Alexandria and other major towns are known for massive and beautifully built mosques, the country has also most beautiful churches not just in this part of the world, but among the most beautiful in the world.
The first and the deadliest explosion, which left 27 dead and 78 injured, ripped through a Palm Sunday service at Mar Girgis (St. George’s) Coptic church in Tanta, a city located 120 km from Cairo, EFE news reported. The explosive device was planted under a seat in the church and was detonated in the main prayer hall. If that was not enough, another huge bombing took place in the second biggest city of the country. A short time later, a suicide bomb attack outside Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria killed 16 and injured 41 people, according to a Health Ministry statement. In a brief statement released through official news agency Amaq, the Islamic State claimed that the attack had been launched by a “security unit belonging to the Islamic State”.
Palm Sunday is highly revered in Christianity. A report says, “The seven days before Easter Sunday are referred to as Holy Week, or the Passover season. These days are set aside to commemorate the brief life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Holy Week begins on Palm Sunday, or “Passion Sunday,” a day on which Christians celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, as foretold nearly 600 year prior by the prophet Zechariah…According to the Biblical account found in the Gospel of John, people spread out palm branches before Jesus as he entered the city on a donkey, rejoicing in His presence and crying, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!””
The same report goes on to add, “By waving palm branches, which symbolized goodness and victory, and using them to cover Jesus’ path as He rode into the city on a donkey, the crowd indicated that the Son of God was revered and respected on the level of royalty…The celebration of Palm Sunday originated in the churches of Jerusalem sometime during the third or fourth century, and had spread as far as Constantinople by the fifth century. The celebration was adopted by the Western Church in the eighth century, and at that time received the name “Dominica in Palmis,” or “Palm Sunday”…Today, many Christian churches observe Palm Sunday by distributing palm, olive, or willow branches to worshipers, who then carry the branches in a procession either inside or outside the church. In some parts of the world, flowers are strewn about into the church sanctuary during the reading of the Gospel account Jesus’ triumphal entry”.