COUNTRY PROFILE

EGYPT

The number of major bomb attacks on churches in Egypt has fallen compared to the previous two years when explosions struck at the heart of the Coptic Christian community, killing and maiming Mass-goers at the country’s most important cathedrals in Cairo and Alexandria.(1) That said, several egregious attacks did take place, including the November 2018 attack on a bus carrying Christian pilgrims.(2) The decline in violent acts suggested progress was being made in President al-Sisi’s stated determination to deal with Daesh (ISIS), which claimed responsibility for many of the attacks. In January 2019 a bomb plot was foiled when Imam Saad Askar reacted promptly to mosque-goers’ reports of suspicious activity near the Virgin Mary and Abu Seifin Church, Nasr City.(3) More than a week earlier, a police officer was killed defusing a bomb near a church in another of Cairo’s suburbs.(4) Meanwhile, protests against Church buildings continue to occur – a problem which has apparently worsened since the government made it easier to secure legal approval for church buildings.(5) Coptic Christian women and girls continue to be abducted for forced conversion and marriage.

1. “Egypt’s Coptic Christians targeted in deadly attacks”, Al Jazeera, 29th December 2017 https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/12/casualties-feared-gunman-attacks-helwanchurch-
171229095924671.html (accessed 27th June 2019).
2. Samy Magdy and Hamza Hendawi, “Officials say attack on Christian pilgrims in Egypt kills at least 7”, Crux, 2nd November 2018, https://cruxnow.com/church-in-africa/2018/11/02/officials-say-attackon-christian-pilgrims-in-egypt-kills-at-least-7/ (accessed 27th June 2019).
3. John Burger, “Imam foils bomb attack against Coptic church in Egypt”, Aleteia, 15th January 2019, https://aleteia.org/2019/01/15/imam-foils-bomb-attack-against-coptic-church-in-egypt/(accessed 27th June 2019).
4. “Egyptian explosives expert killed defusing bomb near church in Cairo”, Catholic News Agency, 6th January 2019, https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/egyptian-explosives-expert-killeddefusing-bomb-near-church-in-cairo-11091720 (accessed 27th June 2019).
5. “Egypt”, United States Commission on International Religious Freedom Report 2019, https://www.uscirf.gov/sites/default/files/Tier2_EGYPT_2019.pdf (accessed 27th June 2019).
6. “Egypt attack: Gunman targets Coptic Christians in church and shop”, BBC News, 29th December 2017, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-42511813; Youssef, A, “Gunmen kill Christian worshippers at Coptic church near Cairo”, The Guardian, 29th December 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/dec/29/gunman-launches-deadly-attack-on-coptic-church-near-cairo (accessed 27th June 2019).
7. Chris Baynes, “Isis attack on Christian worshippers near Coptic monastery in Egypt kills seven”, Independent, 2nd November 2018, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/egyptchristian-bus-attack-coptic-latest-anba-samuel-monastery-terror-a8614461.html ; “Egypt attack: Gunmen kill seven Coptic Christians in bus ambush”, The Guardian, 3rd November 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/03/egypt-attack-gunmen-kill-coptic-christians-bus-ambush (accessed 27th June 2019).
8. “Minya Manshiyet Zaafarana Copts Attacked, Church Closed”, Coptic Solidarity, 13th January 2019, https://www.copticsolidarity.org/2019/01/13/minya-manshiyet-zaafarana-copts-attacked-churchclosed/; Hadeer El-Mahdawy, “Coptic Christian place of worship shuttered in Minya after Muslim residents protest”, Mada, 16th January 2019, https://madamasr.com/en/2019/01/16/news/u/copticchristian-place-of-worship-shuttered-in-minya-village-after-protests-by-muslim-residents/ (accessed 27th June 2019).

December 2017

Nine people were confirmed dead when at least two gunmen attacked Mar Mina Coptic church in the Helwan district, south of Cairo. Those killed included members of the congregation and a police officer involved in a shootout. A number of others were injured, many of them guards protecting the church. Government security said one of the terrorists “was going to blow himself up using a suicide belt”. Afterwards, explosives experts dismantled two improvised explosive devices near the church.(6)

November 2018

Seven people were killed and 19 were wounded when Muslim extremists ambushed three buses carrying Christian pilgrims going to a remote monastery south of Cairo. According to the Coptic Orthodox Church, all but one of those killed were members of the same family. Among the dead were a boy aged 15 and a 12-year-old girl. Daesh claimed responsibility for the attack, which it said was revenge against the Egyptian authorities for jailing “our chaste sisters”.(7)

January 2019

Police closed down the only church in Manshiyet Zaafarana village, Minya, leaving 1,000 Copts without a place of worship. Muslim residents surrounded the building and demanded that it be shut, using what the Archdiocese of Minya described as “offensive and inflammatory” language. Reportedly, police were conciliatory to protestors and closed the building. The church building had been stormed a few days earlier on 7th January 2019, just hours after Christmas Mass. Police ejected the protestors.(8)

More articles

PAKISTAN

Christians are subject to violent persecution and discrimination, much

NORTH KOREA

North Korea is widely considered the most dangerous place

NIGERIA

“There is a clear agenda – to Islamise all

IRAQ

Christians slowly returned to their towns and villages in

INDIA

During the period under examination, attacks on Christians were

CHINA

Difficulties for believers have increased as the new 2018