Bombings rattle Egypt
The political, social, and security challenges already facing Egypt just got bigger. The country was a victim of two suicide bombings at Coptic churches on Palm Sunday. The targets of the attack were St. George’s church in Tanta and St. Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria.
The attacks challenge Egypt on multiple fronts. The first is social. Of the 90 million citizens of the country, Christians form about a tenth of the population. The attack, targeted on people and institutions from the religious faith, are a challenge to the country’s social order. Christians from the country have been targets of extremist acts in the past as well.
This social challenge converts into a security challenge for President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The Christian community has been a relatively strong supporter of the President since he came to power in 2013. But after being targets of attacks, the question of the community’s security hangs heavy on the administration.
At a time when Egypt was starting to instill confidence amongst multinational corporations and global investors, these actions of extremism can potentially tarnish the image of the countries newfound stability.
In response to the attacks, the President has declared a state of emergency for three months. However, given the power he already has, it’s not certain what additional authority he’s seeking from the move.
Further, the attacks can hurt Egypt as they come right at the end of a successful trip to the US for the President. Sisi, who was not necessarily in the good books of the previous US administration, was welcomed by President Trump who was quoted as saying “I just want to say to you, Mr. President, that you have a great friend and ally in the United States and in me.”
Though the US President has expressed confidence in Sisi’s ability to handle the security situation, it may not be enough for investors to continue pouring money into a nation where security concerns continue to arise.