The recent massacres have deeply affected the Coptic minority, already the target of a serious attack last December at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo that left 29 dead. On Monday, many shouted their anger during the preparations for the funeral of the victims. “We are helpless,”protesting friends and relatives of the dead and wounded declared to newspapers and local TV stations. “No one protects us. The authorities do not implement serious security measures.”
The fear is having the upper hand. Not even the larger cities like Cairo and the main Egyptian cities seem to offer a safe haven anymore. In recent months, hundreds of Christian families from Sinai moved there, escaping the threat of the local ISIS branch — formerly Ansar Beit el Maqdes — which in fact took control of northern Sinai in spite of the proclamations of “battles won against terrorists” issued by general Mustafa al Razaz, head of the local military command.
Last month, the Caliphate circulated a 20-minute video referring to the attack in December. It threatens all Copts. A masked man says to the camera: “You, crusaders of Egypt, this operation that has hit in your temple is only the first, and will be followed by other operations, if God allows. You are our first goal and our favorite fishing.” Between January and February, seven Christian Copts were killed in El Arish, the capital of the Sinai, and the government has not taken any concrete steps to protect the Christian community in the peninsula.
Sunday evening, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi declared a state of emergency for three months, to “protect” and “preserve” the country. The announcement also aimed to report to the Vatican that the regime is able to ensure the security conditions necessary for the visit of Pope Francis to Egypt, which is expected later this month. The Pope confirmed his trip to Egypt, earning the approval of the highest Christian and Muslim religious representatives.