Palm Sunday, an important day for Christians all over the world resulted in death and destruction earlier today.
Two separate church bombings occurred earlier today attacking Coptic Christian churches in Egypt.
Various news outlets report that ISIS is claiming responsibility.
The first suicide bomber attacked a Coptic Christian Church, St. George’s Church in Tanta Egypt. The bomb detonated during Mass, killing at least 27 people, including the police officers guarding the church. Another 71 people are reported injured.
A few hours later, a second suicide bomber attacked at the Gates of St. Ark’s Cathedral in Alexandria. The bomb killed 13 people and another 21 people were wounded. The Pope Francis was in the church at the time but unhurt.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi condemned the attacks as “outrageous” and declared three days of nationwide mourning.
“The attack will not undermine the resolve and true will of the Egyptian people to counter the forces of evil, but will only harden their determination to move forward on their trajectory to realize security, stability and comprehensive development,” the statement said.
Here is a video of the attack. WARNING, graphic content.
Who are Coptic Christians?
Coptic Christians are a severely persecuted religious minority throughout the middle east. Egyptian Coptic Christians living in a primarily Muslim country with an increasing radical component, have faced severe violence living in Egypt.
This past Christmas, St. Mark’s Orthodox Coptic Church was bombed during Mass killing 25 people and injuring 80.
The year prior to this bombing President el-Sisi had visited the same church in an effort to bring the nation’s Christians and Muslims together. It was theorized that his visit made the church a target by extremists.
A few year prior to the Christmas time attack, Coptic Christians suffered massive attacks at the hands of radicals. Hundreds of churches and homes were destroyed.
David Curry, executive director of Open Doors USA, a California-based non-profit that helps persecuted Christians around the world, told FoxNews.com
“It’s difficult to know the motivation of the attackers, but we often see an increase in attacks in this region around the Christmas season. It is when Christians are most vulnerable. The number of Christians visiting churches spikes as they flock to honor this holy day.”
Coptic Christians make up about 10 million, or around 10% of the population, compared to 70 million Muslims.
Coptic Christians face persecution on a daily basis.
In addition to persecution, young Coptic girls and women are often kidnapped by radicals and forced into Islamic marriages. In Egypt conversion from Islam to Christianity is illegal and after the women are forced to convert to Islam, it is illegal for them to again practice Christianity.
This Easter, when many of us sit down with our families to openly celebrate the birth of Christianity, remember what Coptic Christians and other persecuted Christians around the world face on a daily basis. As we hunt for Easter eggs in the safety of homes that are unlikely to be bombed, while our daughters are free from forced conversions and kidnapping, remember what we have and what others do not.
Pray for the dead and the living. Most importantly do not forget the crimes against these Christians. For these reasons we must be mindful and vigilant that radicalism fails to take a stronghold in our nation.