On Tuesday, January 2, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced that another three-month extension of the ongoing nationwide state of emergency will go into effect from Saturday, January 13. The state of emergency gives authorities additional powers such as the suspension of certain civil rights and freedoms guaranteed by the constitution, in the interest of maintaining civil order as part of broader counterterrorism efforts. This will be the third extension of the state of emergency since it was declared in April 2017.
The ongoing state of emergency was declared in Egypt following IS attacks on churches in Alexandria and Tanta, which killed 44 people on Palm Sunday, April 9, 2017. The Christian Coptic community has been targeted in a number of violent attacks in recent years, predominantly in the northern Sinai region. Discrimination against Christians, who make up about 10 percent of the population, has long been a delicate subject in predominantly Muslim Egypt. Copts say they suffer social prejudice and workplace discrimination.
Since 2013 and Sisi's ascent to power, the Egyptian government has specifically targeted the Wilayat Sinai group, a suspected Islamic State (IS) affiliate, and the Hasm movement, a suspected Muslim Brotherhood affiliate.
Due to the prevailing threat of terrorism, individuals throughout Egypt should report any suspicious objects or behavior to the authorities and always be on guard when visiting sites deemed particularly vulnerable to an attack (public transportation, train stations, ports, airports, public or government buildings, embassies or consulates, international organizations, schools and universities, religious sites, markets, hotels and restaurants frequented by foreigners/Westerners, festivals, etc.). Many governments advise against travel to northern Sinai, where authorities maintain a media blackout and special security zones amid the ongoing anti-terrorist campaign.
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