Tuesday,22 January, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1424, (3 - 9 JANUARY 2019)
Tuesday,22 January, 2019
Issue 1424, (3 - 9 JANUARY 2019)

Ahram Weekly

Unwavering resolve

Despite a heavy human loss — including the death of three Vietnamese tourists and an Egyptian tour guide — in the cowardly terrorist attack Friday, Egypt will be able to overcome this tragic incident and maintain the progress made in restoring its reputation as a major tourist destination. 

The world now recognises that no country is immune to terror attacks, including Europe and the United States that do not suffer the extremely volatile developments that the Middle East region has witnessed over recent years. Terrorism is simply a plague that is an enemy to humanity, and terrorists will hit anywhere they can, and especially in places where they want to send a political message aimed at claiming they are still able to cause harm.

Only a few days before the terror attack Friday, suspected terrorists brutally killed two young female tourists in Morocco, also aiming to inflict harm on the thriving tourism business in that North African nation during the peak of the tourism season, coinciding with the Christmas and New Year holidays. 

Since the removal of former Muslim Brotherhood leader and president Mohamed Morsi on 3 July 2013, Egypt has confronted one of the worst terror waves in its recent history. No Egyptian will forget the statements made by prominent Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Al-Beltagi, days after Morsi’s removal, vowing that terrorism will not stop in Sinai or elsewhere in Egypt until the Muslim Brotherhood was restored to control of the country again.

The Muslim Brotherhood and other terror groups, such as IS and Al-Qaeda, failed to understand that the revolt of the Egyptian people against Muslim Brotherhood rule reflected their firm rejection of extremism and sectarianism, and refusal to live under a dictatorship that trades in religion. Indeed, the country and its people have paid a heavy price in the fight against terrorism over the past six years, but the vast majority of Egyptians strongly supported the new regime’s relentless efforts in confronting terror, resulting in the martyrdom of hundreds of army and police officers and soldiers, particularly in Northern Sinai.

The latest terror attack in Giza close to the Pyramids was strongly denounced by all Egyptians, recognising that it was aimed not against the regime, or the security agencies, but against the Egyptian people themselves and their interests. Just before the criminal attack took place, international tour agencies were announcing new packages from all over the world to famous Red Sea tourist destinations like Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada. All in all, the number of tourists visiting Egypt has increased 42 per cent compared to the same period last year. This would not have happened had Egypt’s security agencies not achieved clear successes in weakening terror groups tremendously.

The number of terror attacks has decreased sharply. The incident Friday targeting tourists was the first of its kind in over two years. On 14 July 2017, a lone man who was influenced by the IS propaganda online attacked and killed three tourists in Hurghada using a knife. After that incident, there were serious worries over the influence of such an attack on the tourism industry. However, Egypt’s security agencies, Tourism Ministry and many other departments worked hard to maintain the progress achieved on the ground in restoring security, and the flow of tourists to Egypt continued to rise. 

After the extremely tragic accident involving a Russian plane that came down minutes after taking off from Sharm El-Sheikh in November 2015, Egypt’s government exerted tremendous efforts and spent hundreds of millions of dollars to improve security at all its airports. The result was the resumption of Russian flights between Cairo and Moscow, and hopefully soon, Russian flights will resume to Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada. Further delay in resuming such flights would simply be giving in to terrorists, allowing them to claim success in spreading fear.

Our deepest condolences go to the innocent Vietnamese tourists who lost their lives in Friday’s attack, and to the family of the Egyptian tour guide. Health officials spared no effort to provide the best medical treatment possible to those injured, and the majority have already left hospital. 

Being an integral partner in the international war against terrorist organisations, Egypt expects the world’s support. The key support needed after Friday’s terror attack is that Egypt’s most welcomed tourists and visitors should continue coming and enjoy the country’s rich heritage that dates back thousands of years. Egypt is a safe place, and no terror attacks will deter its people from confronting criminal gangs that have no relation to any religion, and who pose a threat to the entire world.

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