“There is no single room available in any hotel in Cairo.” I learned this pleasant news early Sunday in a telephone conversation with a friend while I was going through Facebook posts reading many Muslim friends who were congratulating Christians on Palm Sunday.
Well, Egypt is a country that always attracts tourists, I confidently replied to my friend, not imagining that a double terrorist attack would happen in less than an hour, killing dozens of Egyptian Coptic Christians while praying in their churches.
We, Egyptian Muslims and Christians, were preparing to celebrate the Easter holidays, and Sham El-Nessim that always falls on the day after the Eastern Christian Easter, marking the beginning of spring. While we are mourning our casualties, we are wondering how long Egypt will live with this kind of terrorism. Are we on the right track regarding the policies that we apply to prevent terrorism? Why have Christians been the recent targets for terrorist organizations?
The Egyptian state has lately expanded its security policies in which it surrounds many key government buildings and churches with large cement blocks to prevent car bomb blasts. However, terrorists in their recent attacks managed to place their bomb inside St. George’s church in Al-Gharbeyya governorate today, in addition to placing another bomb in St. Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral last December. This is proof that the cement block policy, which not only surrounds our state entities but also our minds, is not that effective when it comes to security measures.
Violence in Egypt has increased substantially in recent years, in which Egyptians are facing new kinds of crimes that we have not experienced previously. We cannot fight terrorism on its own without addressing many socioeconomic challenges that deeply affect our country. Many of our challenges are linked to each other. Illiteracy, poverty and repression are interlocked and need to be addressed with thorough policies and not with the current polarization policy.
The Egyptian government needs to revisit many of its policies regarding dealing with political Islamists and terrorism that have been applied since June 30, 2013. Egypt will always have a gap in its security measures until it reforms its police department ensuring that there is clear accountability and discipline in this critical state entity. We must admit that political Islam that ends up killing innocent citizens is more of a disease and that we need to work on a cure. Additionally, targeting Coptic Christians shows some sort of religious disparity for which we Egyptian Muslims must be held accountable.