- Middle East/North Africa
Millions of Copts are celebrating this Easter Sunday with sorrow due to the church bombings in Alexandria and Tanta last week, leaving over 45 dead and more than 150 injured.
Pope Tawadros II, the leader of Egypt’s Copts, headed the mass at Abbassiya Cathedral last night amid high-level security measures in the attendance of several officials and public figures in addition to 5,000 Copts, who were previously invited.
The Pope addressed the Copts, saying: “Our hearts are in great deal of pain for our victims. We will always remember them. May God protect you. We pray to God to protect our beloved country.”
The Pope also described President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s visit to the cathedral in the wake of the blasts as a "huge show of solidarity".
“We wish to rejoice with everyone but we are deeply sad due to the incidents which occurred last week. We, the Egyptians, are used to sharing our joy and our sadness,” he added.
“History will remember the Palm Sunday martyrs. God selected them on that day to be ambassadors in heaven to pray for us,” the Pope said.
Tawadros also expressed his appreciation of the sacrifices made by Egypt's police forces, especially personnel who were killed in the Alexandria church blast and greeted doctors who cared for the injured.
In related news, the Armed Forces have finished the restoration of the Alexandria church gate as well as the stores and shops that were affected by the blast ahead of the mass.
Bishop Bola of Tanta said the archbishopric will hold popular funeral today to mourn the victims.
On Saturday, the Interior Ministry heightened security measures across all governorates to secure Easter celebrations at 2,626 churches.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm