Churches in southern Egypt will not celebrate Easter
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Churches in southern Egypt will not celebrate Easter

Coptic diocese in city of Minya says festivities canceled in mourning for 45 Christians murdered in IS terror attacks this week

In this Dec. 11, 2016 file photo, an Egyptian Coptic nun weeps as she looks at damage inside the St. Mark Cathedral in central Cairo, following a bombing. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty, File)
In this Dec. 11, 2016 file photo, an Egyptian Coptic nun weeps as she looks at damage inside the St. Mark Cathedral in central Cairo, following a bombing. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty, File)

CAIRO (AP) — Egyptian churches in the southern city of Minya said on Tuesday that they will not hold Easter celebrations in mourning for 45 Coptic Christians killed this week in twin bombings of churches in two cities during Palm Sunday ceremonies.

The Minya Coptic Orthodox Diocese said that celebrations will only be limited to the liturgical prayers “without any festive manifestations.”

Minya province has the highest Coptic Christian population in the country. Copts traditionally hold Easter church prayers on Saturday evening and then spend Easter Sunday on large meals and family visits.

Parliament approved on Tuesday President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s decision to declare a three-month state of emergency following the attacks, an action seen as a foregone conclusion since the legislature is packed with el-Sissi supporters. The Cabinet declared it had gone into effect as of 1 p.m. on Monday.

Men mourn over the coffin of one of the victims of the April 9, 2017 blast at the Coptic Christian Saint Mark's Church in Alexandria, Egypt, during a funeral procession at the Monastery of Marmina in the city of Borg El-Arab, east of Alexandria, on April 10, 2017. (AFP Photo/Mohamed El-Shahed)
Men mourn over the coffin of one of the victims of the April 9, 2017 blast at the Coptic Christian Saint Mark’s Church in Alexandria, Egypt, during a funeral procession at the Monastery of Marmina in the city of Borg El-Arab, east of Alexandria, on April 10, 2017. (AFP Photo/Mohamed El-Shahed)

The unicameral chamber first approved amendments to a set of laws on Monday aimed at speeding up the trials of those charged in terrorism-related cases.

Following the attacks, el-Sissi ordered the formation of a new body called the “Supreme Council to Combat Terrorism and Fanaticism.”

Egyptians walk past blood stains in a street near a church in Alexandria after a bomb blast struck worshipers gathering to celebrate Palm Sunday on April 9, 2017. (AFP Photo/Stringer)
Egyptians walk past blood stains in a street near a church in Alexandria after a bomb blast struck worshipers gathering to celebrate Palm Sunday on April 9, 2017. (AFP Photo/Stringer)

Sunday’s bombings, claimed by the Islamic State group, are the latest escalation by the extremist group — which recently vowed to step up its attacks against Egypt’s embattled Christian minority.

The group had claimed responsibility for the December bombing of a church adjacent to St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo, one of the most symbolic religious sites for Egyptian Copts. That explosion killed 30 worshipers and injured dozens.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.

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