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Egypt: Catastrophe averted as a terrorist attack on a church thwarted


On August 12, a suicide attack on a Coptic church in the Egyptian capital was thwarted. The attacker eyed for the Church of the Holy Virgin in the Mostorod district, the north of Cairo. However, the bomber’s plans were interrupted and could not execute his plan to perfection.

Christian persecution in Egypt

The suicide bomber was killed on the spot along with a civilian. A policeman was also injured in the attack. The bomber escaped from the entrance of the church when he saw the security guards. However, he did detonate the bomb about 250 meters from the church.

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Thus far no-one has claimed responsibility for this attack. While thanking God for protection, Abdel-Massih Baseet Church priest told local media that a great catastrophe was averted. These days church attracts unusually large number of congregants because of its observation of the Fast of the Holy Virgin from 7th to 21st August.

According to United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) report Christians make up about 10–15% of total population of Egypt. Majority of Egyptian Christians hail from the Coptic Orthodox denomination others Christians include Armenian Apostolic, Catholic, Maronite, Orthodox, and Anglican.

“According to human rights groups, in 2017 alone there were 22 cases of attacks against churches, including many perpetrated by ISIS affiliates and others perpetrated by sectarian mobs. Perpetrators of these and other sectarian-related attacks continued to go largely unpunished, perpetuating an atmosphere of impunity. In some cases, instead of pursuing justice through the rule of law, local Egyptian authorities, particularly in Upper Egypt, continued to conduct “customary reconciliation” sessions between Muslims and Christians,” the USCIRF report states.

“Throughout 2017, ISIS affiliates targeted Christians. In February 2017, ISIS-linked militants in the Sinai released a video inciting violence against Egypt’s Christians. In April, on Palm Sunday, a bombing at St. George’s Church in Tanta killed 30 people and injured 79, and a second bombing at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria, the seat of the Coptic papacy, killed 17 people and injured 48.”

“In May, ISIS-linked militants killed a father and son in the Sinai; they shot the father and burned the son alive. Also in May, unknown gunmen killed 28 pilgrims who were en route by bus to the Monastery of St. Samuel in Minya. In October, Father Samaan Shehata, a Coptic priest, was stabbed in Cairo. In late December, ISIS militants opened fire on the Helwan Church near Cairo, killing 11 civilians and a policeman,” the USCIRF report states.