NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — In the wake of this weekend’s bombings at a pair of Coptic Christian churches in Egypt, houses of worship around the Tri-State Area are on high alert.
Holy Week is meant to be a somber time of reflection as we approach Easter Sunday, but it’s become even more solemn for the Coptic Orthodox Christian community in Jersey City who lost loved ones in the attacks on Palm Sunday.
Father Anthony Basiloi from the Coptic Orthodox Church says he hopes and prays to God, who he believes is capable of saving, helping, and protecting his parish.
“Many parishioners who come to celebrate, pray, and to worship God,” he said. “So I believe it’s a chance for the bad things to happen.”
He tells his followers “if you see something, say something,” to protect not only their parish, but their neighbors as well. Just down the block is St. Peter’s University.
“It is a bit scary,” Father Rocco Danzi tells CBS2’s Meg Baker. “These days are so meaningful, so important, and people do want to go to church to be in communion, in solidarity.”
In Jersey City, Mayor Steven Fulop and Public Safety Director James Shea met with local religious leaders Monday, including members of three Coptic Christian churches who have more than 25,000 parishioners in total.
“While aware of no threats against the Coptic community here in the United States,” Shea said Monday, “out of an excess of caution we’re making sure to have extra resources through the high holy days.”
The New Jersey State Police “Target Hardening Unit” is working hand in hand with the Department of Homeland Security on the matter.
Religious leaders advise their followers to not be afraid of gathering in solidarity, especially during this year’s holy season.
State Police tell CBS2 they’ll have extra K-9 units on hand as part of their enhanced operations.