Churches in southern Egypt will not celebrate Easter

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. Egypt’s Coptic Christians have become the preferred target of Islamic State radicals operating in the Arab world’s most populous nation, seeking to sow discord, undermine President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, and split the country. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty, File)
FILE - In this Friday, April 14, 2006 file photo, Egyptian Copts cross their wrists in defiance outside the Saints Church in the Sidi Bishr district of Alexandria in Egypt. Egypt’s Coptic Christians have become the preferred target of Islamic State radicals operating in the Arab world’s most populous nation, seeking to sow discord, undermine President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, and split the country. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)

CAIRO — 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.

The unicameral chamber preliminarily 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".

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 worshippers and injured dozens.

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