Wednesday,20 March, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1347, (1 - 7 June 2017)
Wednesday,20 March, 2019
Issue 1347, (1 - 7 June 2017)

Ahram Weekly

World against terrorism

Michael Adel reports on national and international reaction to the Minya terrorist attack

#World against terrorism # World against terrorism
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Last Friday 26 May a terrorist attack targeted a bus on the Western Desert road with a number of Copts on board while they were on their way to the monastery of Anba Samuel in Minya governorate. The attack killed 30 Copts and injured 24 others.

The incident led some churches to warn Copts not to announce the dates of church trips on social media sites. A church source said these warnings were meant “to protect the safety of our children in churches so that their movements would not be monitored by terrorists”. He also pointed out that a ban announcing the dates of trips on social media sites was not due to the fear of any threats to the churches but to guarantee the safety of families and children.

On Egypt’s retaliatory air strike against terrorist camps in Libya, Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of Saint Mark, said the strikes “heal some of the rage people are feeling”.

Pope Tawadros also commented on the speech given by President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi addressed to the nation on Friday evening after the terrorist attack. “The president’s speech was to the point, during which he stressed the fact that Egypt is capable of demolishing terrorism and healing the wounds,” he said. “The attack is not directed against Copts but against Egypt as a whole. Everyone in Egypt is responsible for the safety of Egypt by his work, service and education.”

Pope Tawadros said he received a phone call from Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and Ghada Wali, minister of social solidarity, during which they talked about the injured and the provision of urgent medical services, stressing that he did not decide if he would visit Minya.

As for the demonstrations led by Copts and calls for their protection, Pope Tawadros II said: “I excuse them, as well as Egyptians abroad. Whether Copts or Muslims, both are angry. Undoubtedly, the foreign media has portrayed them negatively. I can understand and excuse them until they are fully aware and know the whole truth. ” The pope added that while “Copts feel the pain of this tragic incident, especially if they are far from home, and so the vision is not clear.”

Reaction to the terrorist attack in Minya came from prominent Arab countries including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Iraq and Jordan as well as the Arab League and Palestinian Fatah movement, in addition to the wide-ranging condemnation from foreign countries, some of whom flew the Egyptian flag over their buildings. In Paris they darkened the Eiffel Tower in solidarity with the Minya martyrs.

US President Donald Trump said at a press conference following the G7 Summit in Italy that “the bloodletting of Christians must end” in a statement responding to the attack on Coptic Christians in Egypt, and stressed that the United States supports Egypt in its war on terrorism. Trump added that the US is coordinating with Arab countries to confront external and internal threats and fight terrorism.

Pope Francis of the Vatican sent a message of condolences to the Egyptian people, expressing his solidarity with everyone who was injured in the suicide bomb attack, especially children.

Pope Francis expressed his solidarity with Egypt’s Coptic Christians, calling those massacred in the attack “martyrs”. He said he was “deeply saddened” at the news of “the tragic loss of life and injury caused by this senseless act of hatred” and “expresses his heartfelt solidarity with all those affected by this violent outrage” and especially “those children who lost their lives,” Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said in a telegram on the pope’s behalf to Egypt’s president.

A German government spokesman said the news was being received with “deep sorrow,” noting that the German government is currently hosting a large gathering of the Protestant Church that Coptic Christians are attending too.

Saudi Arabia condemned the armed attack in Minya, stressing the need to strengthen efforts and international cooperation to eliminate the scourge of terrorism and extremism.

The United Arab Emirates strongly condemned the attack. In a statement, its Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation affirmed the solidarity of the UAE with Egypt, stating that the country stood by Egypt’s side in the face of this criminal and malicious act. “We stand with Egypt and its people against extremism and terrorism,” the ministry said, describing this attack as a “new crime added to the black record of terrorism and terrorists.”

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri briefed his US counterpart Rex Tillerson on the retaliatory air strikes carried out by the Egyptian Air Force against terrorist strongholds in eastern Libya in the context of legitimate self-defence. He also confirmed the information and evidence gathered of the terrorist training camps involved in the Minya terrorist incident. Shoukri said terrorists who were trained in these camps were also involved in other terrorist attacks in Egypt recently, expressing Egypt’s aspiration to cooperate with the United States to stand against this phenomenon of terrorism.

Australian Foreign Minister Jolie Bishop said her country’s government was shocked by the brutal attack that led to the deaths of many innocent people, including children, expressing her country’s solidarity with victims' families and the Egyptian people as well.

“In Egypt and around the world, children are still under the brunt of violence. Enough to children’s attacks,” said Bruno Mays, UNICEF representative in Egypt.

In a related context, tourism experts confirmed that regional, international and national incidents affect tourism because it is a highly sensitive industry affected by such events. The Minya bus attack would affect marketing of the Holy Family destination. The region has one of the important points in the family path which was recently developed and prepared for visiting tourists.

Tharwat Ajamia, a member of the Chamber of Tourism in Luxor, said the impact of the incident on tourism in Luxor was very limited because Minya is hundreds of kilometres away from Luxor. There were no cancellations so far by holding groups through his company to visit Luxor this month or the beginning of the new year. Ajamia suggested that the Egyptian Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Tourism need to move and work intensively with tour operators to explain the truth of the incident and to clarify the confusion that may occur to tourists from Europe and America regarding tourist areas of Egypt, to avoid any possible impact of the incident on incoming tourism, especially in the winter season which in general is considered the peak of European and foreign tourism to tourist sites in Egypt.

Pastor Andri Zaki, head of the evangelical community, condemned all criminal and terrorist acts targeting innocents and which threaten the safety of the homeland. He said these attempts are desperate and that the perpetrators are trying to spread fear throughout the country. “Yet, the steadfastness of the Egyptians, their determination to eliminate terrorism and to build the future will not be affected.”

In the Catholic Church in Egypt, Father Hani Bakhoum, Patriarchal Vicar, emphasised the necessity of activating the Supreme Council for Combating Terrorism.

Archbishop Makarios, Bishop of Minya, said the fatwas that preached terrorism and murder as well as sermons with provocative content should have been prosecuted. “The Copts are proud to die as Christians, but Egyptians in general reject violence,” Makarios said during a phone-in on a satellite TV channel. “There must be greater effort in terms of intelligence and information.” He said the previous terrorist incidents had been repeated with contempt and pain. “Were these terrorist strongholds that the Egyptian air force stormed in Libya known before or only known within the last two hours?”

“No, they are known and monitored militarily and struck according to specific information,” said Lamis Al-Hadidi, TV talk show host, responding to the bishop who answered back “after the disaster. I honestly cannot be convinced.”

Aida Nasif, professor of political philosophy at Cairo University, and a member of the Council of Churches in Egypt, condemned the incident. “It is said terrorism has no faith as is always repeated in the media and by some intellectuals and clerics. I totally disagree because terrorism has an ideology which these terrorists believe in through the misinterpretation of some religious texts. Those who believe that terrorism has neither faith nor religion are mistaken. Stop repeating those words. It’s about time to stop ignoring the damage of cultural and religious unawareness.”

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