Coptic Christian churches in Europe are under heavy security protection following terrorist threats published on an Islamic website after a New Year's bomb attack at an Egyptian church killed 21 worshipers.
Authorities in several European countries, including France, Germany and the Netherlands, have increased surveillance of orthodox Coptic Christian churches after generalized threats were issued online against their churches, according to news reports.
Days earlier, a suicide bomber killed 21 people and injured nearly 100 others outside a Coptic Christian church in the city of Alexandria in northern Egypt.
European Copts are fearful of further violence as they now prepare to celebrate Christmas on Jan. 7 and mourn those killed in the weekend attack in Egypt.
French newspaper Le Figaro said a messaged threat had come from the Choukmoun al-Islam website mentioning around 50 Coptic churches in Germany, the United Kingdom and France as potential targets.
The terrorist threats were issued against Europe via the Internet before the Jan. 1 blast took place in Egypt.
"The threat is taken very seriously," a senior police officer in Paris told Le Figaro.
The bombing, which occurred weeks after an Al-Qaeda threat against Egypt, was launched by a suicide bomber wearing a device loaded with nails and ball bearings, the crime lab investigation found, according to The Associated Press.
The incident prompted many Christians to protest in Cairo and Alexandria, causing clashes with the police. Demonstrators demanded protection from the authorities as police investigators search for possible suspects.