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Monday, 29 May 2017

Reactions to Friday’s terrorist attacks

Reactions to Friday’s terror attack on the nation’s Christian community continue to dominate international news coverage of Egypt. Leading the coverage are pickups of wire stories of the social media testimony of the survivors. Pope Francis expressing his solidarity with Coptic Christians also received widespread coverage. He called the victims of the attacks martyrs. Speaking from his studio window over St. Peter’s Square, Francis said: “May the Lord welcome these courageous witnesses, these martyrs, in his peace and convert the hearts of the violent ones,” according to the Associated Press.

Domestically, “Egypt’s Coptic Christians have accused the government of failing toprotect them,” Ruth Michaelson writes in The Guardian. A friend of one of the victims says “even this state of emergency: they announced it to calm public opinion, but it’s not really helping. Even the priests, bishops and parliament members don’t have the same respect from people any more — now no one takes their ‘soothing’ words seriously. We’re fed up.”

The AP’s Rami Musa and Hamza Hendawi write after Egypt’s air strikes on Libya thatour neighbor to the west is now seen as a haven for militants. They say militants are located in four main areas: Derna, Benghazi, Sirte, and Sebratha. The Libya Observer is reporting that the town of Hun has also been a target for air raids. The Tobruk-based parliament of Libya says it fully supports Egypt’s decision to carry out airstrikes against terrorists within Libya’s borders. “For sure, we support these airstrikes and it is not for the first time. They are carried out in coordination with the Libyan armed forces and it is known that the town of Derna [where airstrikes took place] has been under siege of the Libyan armed forces for two years,” Abdallah Bilhaq, the spokesman of the Libyan parliament, told Sputnik. Bilhaq says he does not expect from Egypt any ground operations in Libya, however.

From the GCC with love: Egypt has been shown much love in the (non-Qatari) GCC press. Beyond statements of support, the Saudi Gazette linked the terror attack in Manchester last week to the Minya massacre, arguing that attacks signify a new terrorist strategy in the wake of setbacks in Iraq and Syria. Meanwhile, Bahrain’s Al Wasat is noting the extent of which religious minorities in general, and Coptic Christians specifically, have long been prime targets for terrorists.

Right-wing media, including Breitbart, is of course playing up the clash of civilizationsangle, and focusing on Christians being slaughtered for refusing to convert.

An international coalition to fight terrorism will not work to counter Daesh in Egypt, writes Zvi Bar’el for Haaretz (paywall). Daesh does not control territory in Egypt, so it cannot be countered using conventional tactics, argues Bar’el. He adds that the organization wants to stir a civil war by shifting from targeting security in Sinai to attacking Christians.

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