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Egyptian activists call for vigil to mourn victims of Cairo church bombing

Ahram Online , Tuesday 13 Dec 2016
Mourners holding candles and praying around St Peter and St Paul (El-Botroseya) Church, Sunday, the
Mourners holding candles and praying around St Peter and St Paul (El-Botroseya) Church, Sunday, the night of the attack( photo Hadeer El-Mahdawy)
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A number of Egyptian activists have called for a candlelit vigil Wednesday at 5pm in front of the press syndicate building in Cairo to honour and mourn the victims of the bomb attack on St. Peter and St. Paul Church on Sunday.

Twenty-four people were killed and 49 injured on Sunday when a bomb exploded inside the prayer hall of the church, which is attached to St. Mark's Coptic Cathedral in Cairo, in one of the deadliest attacks on Egyptian Christians in recent years.

The attack was met with shock and devastation among Egyptians, and has been condemned worldwide.

A Facebook page calling for the vigil attracted more than one thousand responses in the first few hours, with over 600 people saying they would attend. Among the activists calling for the event are Egyptian psychiatrist Sally Toma—an active figure in the 2011 revolution—human rights activist Ola Shahba, and journalists including the recently released Youssef Shaaben.

"Despite the shock and ugliness of the attack, many rushed to the blast location and to the hospitals to donate blood, and with the sun setting on that bloody Sunday, we expected a popular funeral the next day to honour the martyrs," the statement on the Facebook event read.

The creators of the event said that while they were appreciative of the ceremonies held on Monday, they felt that "by placing restrictions on who was allowed to attend the funeral services,  the memorial has been made exclusive, as if those who passed away are not civilians and Egyptians who deserve an open funeral."

The state funeral and the church ceremony that preceded took place under very tight security on Monday, with attendance allowed by printed invitation only. State TV was the only media outlet allowed to cover the official state ceremony.

"Because we believe in the right of our martyrs to be honoured with an open funeral, and because of the current security conditions and restrictions, we've organised a silent vigil to mourn the martyrs, with no political signs,  in front of the press syndicate on Wednesday," the event page concluded.

On Sunday, Egypt's presidency announced a three day mourning period to honour the victims and their families.

"We will not give up the pursuit of justice, even once those [who carried out the attack] are arrested. Frankly, the government and the parliament have to take further action," El-Sisi said, calling on the executive and legislative authorities to enact laws to counter terrorism.

This explosion is the third in a week, with the previous two targeting security personnel. On Friday, an explosion killed six policemen and injured three others in Giza's Haram district, while another bomb exploded on Kafr El-Sheikh international road, killing one civilian and injuring three policemen.

There have been several attacks on churches following the 2013 dispersal of the Rabaa Al-Adawyia sit-in, which protested the toppling of Morsi, but this is the biggest against Copts in Egypt since 2011 when 23 people were killed in an explosion at the Two Saints Church in Alexandria. 


 

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