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Egypt is a big prison

People attend the funeral ceremony for the victims of the twin bomb attacks in Alexandria, Egypt on April 10, 2017 [Ahmed Abd Alkawey/Anadolu Agency]
People attend the funeral ceremony for the victims of the twin bomb attacks in Alexandria, Egypt on April 10, 2017 [Ahmed Abd Alkawey/Anadolu Agency]

It was as if the bombing of the two churches was awaited in order to declare martial law in the country and put an iron grip on all the state institutions. The Egyptians woke up on Sunday to the bombing of a church in the Tanta province that killed over 45 Christian citizens during the Palm Sunday mass. Only a few minutes later, another bombing took place in the St Marks Coptic Orthodox Church in Alexandria, where Pope Tawadros led worshippers in Palm Sunday prayers. The pope had left the church minutes before the bombing, which raised a number of questions and opened the door to much speculation and suspicion. Some have claimed that someone told him he must leave the church immediately and the bombing took place immediately after he left.

Blood and damage to benches are seen after a bomb went off inside a church which claimed the lives of more than 21 people in Tanta, Egypt on 9 April 2017 [İbrahim Ramadan/Anadolu]

Blood and damage to the benches are seen after a bomb went off inside a church which claimed the lives of more than 21 people in Tanta, Egypt on 9 April 2017 [İbrahim Ramadan/Anadolu]

Daesh claimed responsibility for both bombings. The organisation had threatened the Copts in the past, and a week ago a bomb that was not detonated was found in the Tanta Church. Despite this, the necessary security measures to protect the churches were not taken. The security negligence was apparent to everyone, despite this, Al-Sisi appeared in the evening and defended the police and declared martial law in the country, without consulting parliament, as stipulated in the constitution. No other president, not even Mubarak, Anwar Sadat, or Gamal Abdel Nasser has ever done this before him. He also announced the formation of a supreme council to combat terrorism, giving them complete legal and religious authority.

On the same day, the Supreme Press Council and the Supreme Media Council were formed, and despite the fact that the media is completely controlled by him, he still believes that there are some loopholes he wants to eliminate. Therefore, he formed these two councils and handed them over to Mubarak’s men, as he appointed journalist Makram Mohamed Ahmed, former journalist syndicate as head of the media council. He was dismissed from the journalist union after the January Revolution. Karam Jabr, who was head of the Rose al-Yusuf Foundation under Mubarak, was appointed as head of the press council. The journalists from the newspaper’s headquarters also dismissed him after the January Revolution.

It was almost as if Al-Sisi wanted to appoint two individuals who wanted revenge following the January Revolution to control the media and the press. The next morning, the House of Representatives speaker announced that the demarcation of the border between Egypt and Saudi Arabia will be passed on to the Legislative Committee, in an action indicating of course that it will be approved. Given the imposition of martial law, there will be no demonstrations or protests, and therefore he ensures that anything can be done and no one can object.

In addition to this, the House of Representatives are also currently discussing the passing of a law to control all social media outlets. A lawyer was sentenced to 10 years in prison and was banned from using the internet for five years!

Farcical events are taking place in Egypt under Al-Sisi and the Egyptians are currently living in a big prison. However, the question remains: Were they waiting for these two church bombings to issue all these decisions? Has terrorism become the solution to his crises and assurance of his survival in power?

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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