Coptic Christian says recent ISIS attacks won't deter Easter celebrations

Two separate bombings of churches in Egypt — claimed by ISIS — have reignited the long-held fears of the country's Coptic community. But nothing will stop Easter celebrations.
After two separate ISIS attacks on worshipers in church on Palm Sunday in Egypt, reports have emerged of police killing seven suspected ISIS militants planning more attacks on Christians. (Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters)

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On Palm Sunday, April 9, people gathered at the Mar Girgis Coptic Church in Tanta, Egypt, to worship and sing hymns — until a bomb exploded, killing 27 people and wounding over 70 other worshippers.

That same day, a second explosion struck St. Marks Coptic church in the port city of Alexandria, the historic seat of Christendom in Egypt. In this attack, 17 people were killed and 41 were injured.

ISIS has claimed responsibility and has vowed more attacks

Coptic Christian Ehad Wagd, who lives in Cairo, is not surprised by the recent bombings.

"We've been used to this since a long time ago ... a few months ago they did the same thing to our main Cathedral in Cairo," Wagdi tells The Current's Friday host Dave Seglins.

Forensics teams collect evidence at the site of a bomb blast which struck worshipers gathering to celebrate Palm Sunday at the Mar Girgis Coptic Church in the Nile Delta City of Tanta, Egypt, April 9, 2017. (Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi declared a three-month  state of emergency in the country in response.  A move that Wagdi agrees with.

"There's a lot of people who are supporting Muslim Brotherhood and those people who paying for those people to go kill us... these measures have been taken only for those people," he says.

Wagdi says that the Coptic Christian community is an easy target for jihadis during the Easter holiday but believes that the attacks have made the community come together.  

He believes that the recent bombings won't deter Coptic Christians from attending church on this holy weekend.

"Actually, I'm on my way now to church," he tells Seglins.

"I'll be very, very happy for all people to go to church. Nothing will stop the Coptic Orthodox people from going church."

'ISIS can't be killed just with bullets'

New York Time's foreign correspondent Rukmini Callimachitells Seglins she's also not surprised of the recent Palm Sunday attacks given ISIS has been targeting Christians as an on-going tactic for some time.

ISIS transmits a threat that many leaders can't handle, says Callimachi.

"We've seen how the Obama administration and now how Trump administration is struggling to contain this threat."

She suggests the use of force to respond to ISIS, such as the massive bomb attack by the U.S. in Afghanistan, isn't an effective approach.

"This is a group that feeds off an ideology that has inspired tens of thousands of people possibly hundreds of thousands to join their cause."

ISIS can't be killed just with bullets, she says, because you are fighting an idea.

"And you can't kill an idea with bullets."

Listen to the full segment at the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Lara O'Brien.