The moving banner at the bottom of the 24/7 news channel informs us of another atrocity carried out by Isis.
“[Breaking News] 40 dead and 100 injured in two bomb attacks in Egyptian cities Tanta and Alexandria…..”
I read somewhere recently that the reaction to terror attacks has almost become routine.
But for the friends and families of the victims of attacks on our civilisation, nothing will ever be routine again.
I know what they mean. There are recognisable stages that now seem familiar to us after a terrorist attack in another country. The closer the country, the more coverage it gets and the more we seem to care.
First, it’s breaking news on Sky News, BBC, Fox, RT, Al Jazeera, France 24 etc.
“Jesus” someone says, “there’s been an attack in Westminster/ Brussels/ Paris/ Istanbul.” Everyone huddles around the TV for a while commenting on how awful it all is. Then we slowly move away from the TV and get on with whatever we were doing before.
Stage two is the speculation and the questions the media try to answer.
How many have died? What nationalities are the victims? Was the attacker acting alone? Has Isis claimed responsibility yet?
Then the buildings are lit the colours of the country attacked, if the country is deemed important enough. When Paris was attacked in 2015, Europe lit up in the French tricolour to remember the victims. Facebook profile pictures were changed to the bleu, blanc et rouge
In the past month, London, Stockholm, St. Petersburg and now Tanta and Alexandria have experienced attacks.
Less colours are displayed now. Do people know what the Egyptian flag looks like?
The two attacks in Egypt on Palm Sunday were the most devastating of those mentioned above (however those are just the attacks carried out in European/ Mediterranean countries).
Both bombs targeted Coptic Christians in Egypt. They resulted in 44 deaths and over 100 injuries.
The first attack happened in the central city of Tanta, where a bomb exploded near a Coptic church. 28 people died.
A few hours later in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, the Coptic Pope was saying mass in St. Mark’s Cathedral when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside. Pope Tawadros was unharmed in the attack.
The funerals for some of those who died on Sunday took place yesterday, Monday. The scenes in the two cities were a reminder that for those who lost someone in the attacks, routine is a word of the past.
The funerals were broadcast live on Egyptian television. Some of the coffins bore a golden cross with the words ‘died as a martyr’ written underneath.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has declared a three-month state of emergency following the attacks.
But there is anger among the Copts that a state of emergency was not called sooner. Some say that security around their churches is lax and that the state of emergency should have been called in March, before the holidays.
President Sisi is under pressure. The Copts have traditionally supported him; the Muslim Brotherhood blamed the Copts when he overthrew Morsi in 2013. But there are signs of changing attitudes among those traditionally loyal to Sisi, as the attacks raise questions about security.
In December of last year, a bomb in Cairo’s Church of St. Peter and St. Paul killed 25 worshipers. Another bomb outside the Church of Saints Mark and Peter in Alexandria killed 23.
The attacks have become increasingly worrying for the Coptic Christian population in Egypt, who are targets for Islamist terrorists who wish to ‘liberate’ Egypt from Christians.
The Christian community in Egypt accounts for 10% of the population, which makes it the largest Christian minority in the Muslim world. The community has been the target for many attacks in recent months, and Isis have warned the Christians that this attack is not the last.
The Roman Catholic Pope Francis I was scheduled to visit the country later this month, but it remains to be seen whether he will make the visit amidst security concerns.
In London, PC Keith Palmer was also laid to rest today in front of large crowds. The policeman was murdered by Khalid Masood outside Westminster last month.
On Monday, three cities saw funerals of the victims of terrorism.
This must never become routine.