El-Sisi Widens Crackdown on Egyptian Civil Society, Journalists After Palm Sunday Church Bombings

Funerals have begun in Egypt for victims of two bomb attacks targeting Coptic Christian churches on Sunday. At least 49 people were killed, and over 100 people were injured. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which targeted the St. George’s Coptic church in the northern city of Tanta and the St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi responded by declaring a three-month state of emergency. The state of emergency gives el-Sisi’s government even further power to continue its crackdown against human rights activists and journalists. For more, we speak with Sharif Abdel Kouddous, Democracy Now! correspondent and a Nation Institute fellow, in Cairo.

TRANSCRIPT

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Funerals have begun in Egypt for victims of two bomb attacks targeting Coptic Christian churches on Sunday. At least 49 people were killed, and over 100 were injured. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which targeted the St. George’s Coptic church in the northern city of Tanta and the St. Mark’s Cathedral in the northern city of Alexandria, where Coptic Pope Tawadros was celebrating Palm Sunday mass. The pope was uninjured in the attack.

AMY GOODMAN: One of the Coptic parishioners who survived the attack in Tanta described what happened.

EMIL EDWARD SALIB: [translated] It was a little after 9:00 a.m. The prayers were being held, and everyone was sitting in their places, but the pews weren’t full yet. I was sitting in the front, and all of a sudden everything went dark. I passed out, and someone pushed me off my seat. A few seconds later, I got up, and I saw bodies all around me. I climbed onto the pews and got out using a side door. Then I heard screams. I heard people saying, “Get out!”

AMY GOODMAN: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi responded by declaring a three-month state of emergency.

PRESIDENT ABDEL FATTAH EL-SISI: [translated] Several steps are to be taken, the first of…

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