Egypt's Coptic Church cancels official visits, ramps up security

Egypt's Coptic Church cancels official visits, ramps up security
Monasteries have cancelled visits and trips until the end of July at the minimum in response to warnings from the country's security services.
2 min read
15 July, 2017
Security forces outside a hospital following an attack on St Samuel's monastery in May [Anadolu]
Coptic churches across Egypt ramped up security on Thursday and Friday in response to a warning from the country's security services.

Churches have seen more security inspections involving metal detectors at the entrances, while more police officers were posted to areas outside.

Salah Hassan, director of security in the city of Qena, said on Thursday that security services were committed to securing churches, adding assurances over the security forces' vigilance.

The Coptic Church cancelled all official trips and conferences until the end of July on the basis of security advice, a spokesperson of the Coptic Orthodox Church said on Thursday.

"All monasteries have been instructed to cancel all visits or events," said Father Paulos Halim.

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a string of deadly attacks on the country's Coptic community that has left more than 100 people dead since December.

In May, 29 people were gunned down in a bus travelling to a monastery in Minya by IS militants during the Church's most holy week of the year.

Three IS suicide bombings targeting churches killed dozens more Christians in December and April.

The leader of the Islamic State group in Egypt said in May that attacks on Christians and their churches would continue as part of their mission.

"Targeting churches is a part of our fight and war on infidelity and infidels," the unnamed IS leader said, giving Christians three options: "Convert, pay the Islamic poll tax or go to battle".

IS is not the only group that is contributing to the country's security woes. The National Security Agency reported intelligence on Friday that the militant Islamist group, Hasm, was planning more attacks in the country.

The shadowy group was reportedly responsible for an attack in Giza which killed five policemen on Friday.