NORTHRIDGE (CBSLA.com) — Sorrow filled the air during evening service on Palm Sunday at St. Mary and St. Athanasius Coptic Christian Church in Northridge.
Coptic Christians in Southern California say Sunday’s violence in Egypt against them is nothing new. They say they also mourn for the Muslims who were also killed at the hands of ISIS.
The first bomb exploded in Tanta, Egypt during a live stream of the choir singing during Palm Sunday. A few hours later, a security camera captured the second suicide bombing at a church in Alexandria, Egypt.
The violence has turned a time of celebration into sorrow at St. Mary and St. Athanasius Coptic Christian Church in Northridge during the start of Holy Week.
“It was shocking, disappointing, I felt sad,” Parishioner Hala Fam said.
Church leaders say attendance at Sunday morning’s service, following the bombings, was by the far the biggest attendance they’ve ever seen.
The church also produces a TV show.
Dr. Mahfouz Gereis says the majority of callers were angry, saying security isn’t tight enough at Christian Churches in Egypt.
“It’s a history in Egypt that even when they capture those the atrocities, hardly anybody would be sentenced,” show host Gereis said.
Egypt’s president recently met with President Trump, who on Sunday tweeted he had confidence that President Al Sisi will handle the situation properly.
But parishioners in Northridge say their support for Abdel Fattah Al Sisi may slide if they don’t see a tougher stance against ISIS which claimed responsibility for the attacks. They also say even the possibility of more bombings won’t erode their faith.
“Our people, actually when they hear things like this, it kind of like encourages them to pray harder to even get closer to God. Get closer to the church.” Fr. Anthony Attallah, of St. Mary and St. Athanasius Church, said.