A public hearing scheduled following the two Palm Sunday bombings targeting Coptic churches, which would have seen the ministers of justice and interior appear before Parliament, was canceled on Monday by Parliamentary Speaker Ali Abdel Aal.
The two bombings targeted churches in the northern cities of Alexandria and Tanta, and have reportedly claimed the lives of approximately 45 people, including security personnel, and left over 120 injured.
Parliament’s general committee, comprised of the parliamentary speaker, his deputies and the heads of parliamentary blocs and committees, announced on Sunday that it would summon Interior Minister Magdy Abdel Ghaffar on Monday for questioning over security forces’ failure to protect the churches and Justice Minister Hossam Abdel Rehim for the delay in amendments to Egypt’s Criminal Procedures Law.
The amendments were intended to tighten judicial proceedings when dealing with terrorism-related cases, and were proposed following the December attack on the St. Peter and St. Paul Church, adjacent to the Abbasseya Coptic Cathedral, which killed 29 people.
Member of Parliament’s general committee Ihab al-Khouly told Mada Masr that the decision to summon the ministers was rendered “useless,” after President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi confirmed on Sunday that the bombings did not result from a security failure.
“The parliamentary speaker decided to cancel the summons to give the government the chance to implement the president’s decisions,” he says.
In a televised speech on Sunday Sisi announced a nationwide, three-month state of emergency, and the establishment of a “Supreme Council to Combat Terrorism and Extremism,” the composition and function of which remain unclear.
According to parliamentary sources, head of the state-aligned majority bloc Alliance to Support Egypt, Mohamed al-Sewedy, emailed members of Parliament after Sisi’s speech asking them to cancel the ministers’ hearing. The request was met with support from a significant number of parliamentarians, according to the source.
Province of Sinai, the Islamic State’s affiliate in Egypt, has claimed responsibility for both bombings, vowing to continue targeting Coptic Christians in Egypt.