Mosque attacked during a service

Photo courtesy of Mohamed Soliman | Two dozen attackers dressed in military clothing entered an Egyptian mosque, throwing grenades and firing rounds into a crowd of around 500 people. There have been at least 305 confirmed dead and 120 injured as a result of the attack, which is the deadliest in Egypt’s modern history.

The Imam of the al-Rawdah Sufi mosque in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula was just about to start Friday prayer services when an explosion rocked the outside of the mosque. At least two dozen attackers in military clothing entered the mosque where around 500 people were worshipping, and sprayed bullets and threw grenades into the crowd. The attack left at least 305 people dead and another 120 injured in the deadliest attack in Egypt’s modern history.

“I was in shock, I just couldn’t believe it,” Dr. Waleed El-Ansary, the Chair of Islamic studies, said. “That they would go this low, people gathering for their jumaa (Friday) prayers. This is the month of the birthday of the Prophet… This is just really low… I just felt revolted. It is just completely disgusting.”

Egyptian security forces have come under increasing scrutiny after two separate attacks on the country’s Coptic Christian minority. One attack involved twin suicide bombings of two Coptic churches in Alexandria and Tanta during Palm Sunday services in February, killing 45. In May, 28 Coptic pilgrims were shot and killed after being lured off their bus on the way to a monastery in the Minya Province.

There is speculation that the attack was retaliation for the local Sheikh cooperating with law enforcement.

“There are so many potential motives…” El-Ansary explained. “It depends on what level of leadership they are. For some of the younger people, some of them are really misguided and psychologically disturbed. For the senior guys, they have a political agenda for power in that particular area. There is this element of narcissism in these groups.”

El-Ansary, who is Egyptian, emphasized that this kind of attack and others originate from outside of Egypt.

“These issues are traced back to the Muslim Brotherhood or violence that broke out in parts of Libya,” El-Ansary said. “There are certain interests that would like to see instability in the region. You’ve got to wonder where (terrorist groups) are getting their money from. Once we figure that out, that’s when we’ll find who is behind this.”

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi promised to respond to the attack with “brute force,” and, on Friday, the military launched airstrikes against targets they claim were responsible. el-Sissi also called for three days of national mourning and plans to build a memorial.

“I think this is their last major attack, hopefully” El-Ansary said. “Egyptian security have their informants. God willing, I don’t see anything like this happening again in the near future.”

By: Savin Mattozzi ~Copy Editor~