There is something in the method the attackers used in the recent attempt to assassinate Interior Minister General M. Ibrahim, which caused widespread outrage among Egyptians of all walks of life, that reminded me of another attempt, one that claimed the life of Prime Minister Rafik el-Hariri of Lebanon. Many of the details are similar, although the explosive charge was larger in el-Hariri’s case.
Ibrahim and the policemen who work for him are soldiers in our battle with terror. Being in the frontline, they are risking their lives to protect ours. Unlike their enemies they have rules to follow. And when they chase down members of the Muslim Brotherhood, this is only done through the law and to eradicate the fanatics planted in our midst. Nearly half a ton of TNT was used in Ibrahim’s case, and the method used, involving a car bomb driven by a suicide attacker is common in cases where the planners intend to inflict maximum casualties.
The minister, thank God, got away, but the mayhem was substantial. Some 24 persons were injured with some of them in critical condition. Two of the victims, one a child, had their legs amputated. Car bombs, especially those involving suicide drivers, are a hallmark of attacks by al-Qaeda and jihadist groups, as experts in terrorism would tell you. Forensic evidence is crucial in this case, as it may shed light on the identity of the perpetrators.
Terrorists can give you any number of reasons for their sinister actions, but the truth is that those who take the path of indiscriminate mayhem don’t end up with a lot of friends. In Nasr City, the bombing unleashed a wave of disgust against the perpetrators and solidarity with the minister, who survived unscathed.
Condemnation aside, we must now ask ourselves: what next?
First: we need the decision makers and legislators – terrorism experts as well – to look into the country’s state of emergency and decide if we need to extend it to keep the terrorists at bay. We have a responsibility to protect our citizens, and we cannot allow the MB and its allies to undermine law and order or decimate the foundations of the state. The recent attack on the interior minister had a symbolism that cannot be denied. If they can eliminate the chief of security in this country, then no one can be safe.
Second, I urge legislators and politicians to come together and formulate a new law to confront terrorism and related crimes. We need to define crimes that go under this rubric and set in motion a legal process ensuring that those implicated will be brought to justice and face stiff punishment. A credible and efficient confrontation of terror through such process is essential to protecting Egypt’s national security.
Third, I call on our writers, media, and civil society to author a charter of national solidarity between the people and the state. Back in June 30th, the people vowed to protect the country from fanaticism and the violence that comes with it. This job is one to which the government remains committed. The nation and the government are still in this together and each needs to know what are the details and boundaries of their overlapping roles.
Before I conclude this article, I wish to dwell for a moment on the role of religion and the responsibility of those who claim to speak in its name. Some have even acceded to power in the name of religion. This makes it incumbent upon us to define where religion ends and power begins, where ideas end and crimes – such as those we see every day – begins. The islamists were removed from power by an unprecedented act of revolt by the people and the army.
Does this justify their attempt to start a wave of vindictive violence?
Does this justify their war on the Egyptian people?
During their one year in power, the MB managed to insult the judiciary and bully the media. They alienated the police to the point where young officers were driven to semi-rebellion. The MB’s biggest error was that they abused the army, testing its patience with repeated provocations. The army couldn’t sit back and see the head of the state offer protection to terrorist groups in Sinai. The army couldn’t allow militants reportedly affiliated with Hamas to kill our servicemen and get away, escaping according to some reports through the tunnels. The deposed president at one point ordered the army to stop its campaign in Sinai, although the army had intelligence about suspected terrorists believed to be acting in coordination with Hamas.
Nothing in the Holy Qur’an or the Prophet’s saying supports this kind of behavior. Religion is dear to all Egyptians and its use as a vehicle to power or a call for bloodshed is unpardonable.
translated from Al Youm 7