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Egypt's parliament approves state of emergency

April 11, 2017

Following twin "Islamic State" bombings targeting Coptic Christians in two cities, Egypt's parliament has approved a three-month state of emergency. Churches in the city of Minya will not hold Easter celebrations.

Monastary of Marmina
Image: Getty Images/AFP/M. El-Shahed

Egypt's parliament on Tuesday unanimously approved a three-month state of emergency declared by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, state-run Nile News television reported.

The measure, which came into effect at 1 p.m. local time (1100 UTC) on Monday, was implemented in the wake of Sunday's twin bombings in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria, which killed 45 Coptic Christians who were attending Palm Sunday services.

Fight against a 'vicious enemy'

Ahead of Tuesday's parliamentary vote, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail told lawmakers in a televised speech that the state of emergency was necessary to empower the state to take appropriate measures against proponents of violence.

The emergency law "will give the state bodies the needed flexibility and speed to fight a vicious enemy," Ismail said.

The "Islamic State" ("IS") militant group claimed responsibility for the bombings and threatened further attacks against Egypt's Christian minority. Copts, who make up about one-tenth of Egypt's population of more than 94 million, have been targeted several times in recent months.

Jihadists groups such as IS, and Islamists accuse Copts of supporting the military overthrow of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, which ushered in a deadly crackdown on his supporters.

No Easter celebrations in Coptic Minya province

In mourning for the 45 Coptic victims, Egyptian churches in the southern city of Minya also announced on Tuesday that they will not hold Easter celebrations on Saturday. Minya province has Egypt's highest Coptic Christian population.

In statement the Minya Coptic Orthodox Diocese said that celebrations will only be limited to the liturgical prayers "without any festive manifestations." 

ksb/kms (AFP, Reuters, dpa)