As Christians around the world celebrate Easter, eight million of them will be praying alongside security checkpoints, police guards and the threat of religious violence.
This is the fate of the Coptic Christians of Egypt — an ancient religious minority whose persecution today is “the worst it has ever been,” according to analysts.
Bombers targeted these Christians during Palm Sunday one week ago, killing 44 people in twin attacks on churches in two different cities.
ISIS claimed responsibility for what was the latest in a string of attacks targeting the group.
Christians make up around 10 percent of Egypt’s mostly Muslim population of 83 million. They have long faced discrimination, but in recent years they have found themselves increasingly targeted by Islamist extremists.
“This is probably the worst it has ever been – but that’s not to say things were necessarily rosy before,” according to Dr. H.A. Hellyer, a senior non-resident fellow at the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank.