A letter from our friend and ARDF colleague, Archbishop Mouneer Anis, Bishop of Egypt.
10th April 2017
Thank you for all your messages of condolences and your prayers. Palm Sunday this year was a sad one.
As I was going to celebrate Palm Sunday at All Saints Cathedral, Cairo, I heard the news of the explosions at Mar Guirgis Coptic Orhtodox Church in Tanta, in the middle of the Nile Delta area. During the Service, I heard of another explosion at St Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Alexandria. The outcome of these terrorist attacks is that 45 were killed and 129 injured, some of whom were Muslim policemen and guards. Sadness overshadowed all Palm Sunday celebrations all over Egypt. Perhaps the drawing [to the left] which appeared in one of the local newspapers illustrated this very clearly.
Intensive security measures and regulations have been made since this last Saturday. This included security personnel emptying all the streets around the churches and cathedrals of cars with extra policemen and sniffer dogs checking all church buildings and worshippers before Services start. I believe these measures were done to safeguard all church buildings in the country. Although the security was very tight, the evildoers have their own ways and it is extremely difficult to achieve 100% security. This was also the case behind the recent terrorist attacks in Sweden, Britain, Germany, and France.
Both terrorist attacks were done by suicide bombers. In Tanta, the suicide bomber succeeded to enter the Church, while in Alexandria, the metal detector gates beeped as the bomber was going through and to avoid being arrested, he detonated the bomb.
As I am writing these words, the burial of the Coptic Orthodox martyrs from the Church in Alexandria are being held at Mar Mina Monastery in a mass grave.
Last evening, President Sisi conveyed his condolences and expressed his strong determination to fight and defeat terrorists. He also announced about the formation of a national council for fighting terrorism that will have all the authority to take firm action. In addition, he applied a 3-month emergency law. These terrorist attacks on Churches are not the first. More than 60 Churches were burnt in August 2013 as a reaction to the ouster of the former Muslim Brotherhood President. They aim to destabilize the country.
In view of these terrorist attacks, we expect that tourist numbers to Egypt will drop considerably although Egypt is still considered a much safer destination than other countries in the region.
Thank you again for your condolences. Please pray for us and for Egypt. May the Lord bless you!
Anglican Bishop in Egypt