Following two deadly Palm Sunday attacks on Coptic churches, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has declared a three-month state of emergency in a speech following a meeting of the national defense council. The declaration came just hours after Sisi had ordered Egypt's military to be deployed across the country.
Speaking from the presidential palace after meeting with the national defense council on Sunday, a defiant Sisi vowed to fight those who attempt to sow the seeds of instability in the country. "Egyptians have foiled plots and efforts by countries and fascist, terrorist organizations that tried to control Egypt," the Associated Press reported the Egyptian president said.
Under a state of emergency Egyptian police are granted expanded powers enabling them to enact curfews and make arrests and conduct searches without warrants. According to President Sisi, the three-month state of emergency would be implemented as soon as all of the appropriate "legal and constitutional steps" had been taken.
A majority of Egypt's Parliament must vote to approve a state of emergency, rules outlined in the country's constitution stipulate. According to a factsheet put out by the Embassy of Egypt in Washington, D.C., "any state of emergency declaration by the executive branch must be approved by the House of Representatives" and "may not exceed three months." Egypt's Constitution also stipulates that the country's House of Representatives may not be dissolved during a state of emergency.
Attacks on two Coptic Orthodox churches in Egypt killed more than 40 people on Palm Sunday, a day the Christian calendar marks in remembrance of Jesus' entry to Jerusalem as the Savior and the beginning of Holy Week. A total of 27 people were killed with more than 70 others wounded when a bomb exploded during Palm Sunday services at St. George's Church in the Egyptian city of Tanta. A second attack carried out later in the day by a suicide bomber on St. Mark's Cathedral in Alexandria, Egypt's port city, left 16 people dead and at least 40 others injured, Egypt's Interior Ministry said.
The Islamic State has since claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying they were carried out by "a security detachment" of the terrorist organization, CNN reported.
The United States condemned the attacks in Egypt in separate statements issued by President Donald Trump and the State Department on Sunday. "So sad to hear of the terrorist attack in Egypt," President Trump wrote in two tweets published consecutively Sunday. "[The] U.S. strongly condemns. I have great confidence that President Al Sisi will handle situation properly."