[JURIST] The Parliament of Egypt [official website] on Tuesday gave its unanimous approval [press release] to a three-month state of emergency put in place [JURIST report] by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi [BBC profile]. Announced by Egypt’s state-run news [Nile News, in Arabic], the state of emergency was instituted in response to two deadly Christian church bombings in the Egyptian cities Tanta and Alexandria. The Islamic State [BBC backgrounder] took credit for the bombings, prompting this state of emergency, explained as a means to allow the Egyptian government to respond quickly to threats.
The threat to Christians in the Middle East has heightened in past years as radical extremists have increasingly targeted attacks on this religious group. In February 2016, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights condemned [JURIST report] the beheading of Coptic Christians in Libya by IS, characterizing the acts as “vile crime[s] targeting people on the basis of their religion.” The Egyptian Christians were abducted in two separate incidents, and a released video showed members of IS beheading the captives on a beach in Libya. Earlier that month, Egypt’s state-run National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) [official website] publicly condemned recent violent attacks against the nation’s Coptic Christians. Islamist extremists are believed to be behind attacks [CNN report] such as the burning of churches and property owned by Christians, along with the displacement of Christian citizens. Coptic Christians comprise roughly 10 percent of the country’s 85 million people and more than 275 people were killed and 2,000 injured in the course of the attacks. These citizens have become a scapegoat for the ousting of Egyptian ex-president Mohamed Morsi [BBC profile], and recent attacks are widely seen as retaliation from Morsi supporters, the Muslim Brotherhood [BBC profile].