Egypt bombings: Muslim countries lead chorus of condemnation

A relative of one of the victims reacts after a church explosion killed dozens in Tanta, Egypt, on Sunday. (Reuters)
Updated 10 April 2017

Egypt bombings: Muslim countries lead chorus of condemnation

JEDDAH: Arab and Muslim countries joined Saudi Arabia Sunday to condemn the twin bombings of Coptic churches in Egypt that left at least 40 people dead and scores wounded just one week before Coptic Easter and the same month that Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Egypt.
The blasts occurred at Margarges Church in Tanta and near St. Mark’s Church in Alexandria, northern Egypt. Daesh has claimed responsibility.
An official source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that King Salman sent a letter to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi saying: “We express our deep condemnation and condemnation of these two criminal acts,” according to Saudi Press Agency.
It added: “We affirm Saudi Arabia’s stand with the Arab Republic of Egypt and its brotherly people against anyone who tries to undermine its security. And to the families of the brotherly Arab Republic of Egypt and to the families of the victims on behalf of the people and the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and on our behalf, our sincere condolences and sincere condolences. We wish their families patience and solace and wish the injured a speedy recovery.”
King Abdallah II of Jordan sent a cable to El-Sisi denouncing the attack as “cowardly” and voicing Jordan’s solidarity and support with Egypt in fighting terrorism and preserving its stability.
Turkey also condemned Sunday’s attacks on churches in Egypt.
“We strongly condemn the heinous terror attacks on churches in Egypt on Palm Sunday today,” presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said.
Mehmet Gormez, the head of religious affairs in Turkey, “cursed” the attacks and said they are the shared problem of all humanity.
“The immunity of a place of worship, no matter the religion it belongs to, cannot be violated and the bloodthirsty killing of innocent worshippers cannot ever be forgiven,” Gormez said in an official statement.
Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also published a statement denouncing the attack.
“We convey our condolences to the bereaved families and the whole people of Egypt,” the statement said before a second attack hit an Alexandria church, killing at least 11 people.
Gaza’s Hamas said in a statement that the attack was “a crime.”
Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said, “Hamas wishes safety, security, stability and prosperity for Egypt and its people.”
Joining the growing list of Muslim countries protesting the attack, Oman’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a tweet, expressed its solidarity with Egypt and also wished a speedy recovery for the injured.
The UAE offered its full solidarity with Egypt in its efforts to eliminate criminal and terrorist elements that are wreaking havoc and targeting the lives of innocent citizens, according to UAE News Agency, WAM.
In addition, Yousef A. Al-Othaimeen, secretary general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) conveyed his condolences to the families of the victims and to the government and people of Egypt in general, wishing the wounded speedy recovery.
Al-Othaimeen also reaffirmed the OIC’s principled and resolute position against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
The Kuwait News Agency reported that Kuwaiti National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim sent a cable to his Egyptian counterpart, Ali Abdulal. He said, “We condemn this criminal heinous blast, and we reiterate our full solidarity with Egypt.”
According to the Bahrain News Agency, the Kingdom’s Foreign Minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa, said Bahrain supported measures to deter terrorism to maintain security and stability and the attacks “will never succeed in undermining the unity and steadfastness of Egyptian society, and reiterated Bahrain’s firm position, which rejects violence, extremism and terrorism.”

Ethnic Tubus fear southern Libya offensive

Updated 29 min 20 sec ago

Ethnic Tubus fear southern Libya offensive

  • The ethnic group fears vengeance by Arab communities that have joined an offensive by Khalifa Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army
  • Long marginalized, Tubus live in the Tibesti region, which straddles Libya, Chad and Niger, an area long at the mercy of roaming rebel groups, traffickers and extremists

OUBARI: In the southern Libyan city of Oubari, shops are shuttered and tension is palpable, as residents fear an imminent incursion by forces loyal to strongman Khalifa Haftar.

We “dread the repercussions of military operations that are unfolding on the edge of town,” said 22-year-old hospital administrator Ali Senoussi, speaking on behalf of his Tubu community.

Many residents in Oubari — some 900 kilometers (560 miles) south of Tripoli — are Tubu.

The ethnic group fears vengeance by Arab communities that have joined an offensive by Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA), which is on the outskirts of the city.

Long marginalized, Tubus live in the Tibesti region, which straddles Libya, Chad and Niger, an area long at the mercy of roaming rebel groups, traffickers and extremists.

“We are residents of this region. Our support and love for it is immense,” said 22-year-old Senoussi, clothed in a traditional head robe to screen desert sun and wind.

“We cannot accept being involved in wars with Arab tribes that fight alongside Haftar,” he insisted, sipping tea in the courtyard of a hospital where he works as an administrator.

The LNA says it is seeking to purge “terrorist and criminal groups,” and some accuse the Tubus of supporting Chadian rebels.

But Senoussi dismisses the offensive as “a threat to the social peace of the whole region.”

Tubu lawmakers even allege that ethnic cleansing is under way.

The community was among the first to join the 2011 uprising that ousted and killed Muammar Qaddafi.

But the former dictator’s downfall by no means improved Tubus’ standing in Libya.

Despite being home to some of the country’s biggest oilfields, the region is regularly hit by shortages of all kinds — petrol, electricity, gas cylinders and even bread.

Prices have rocketed on the black market.

Senoussi said the lack of fuel had forced him to leave his car at home and walk to work.

“Most public sector workers prefer to walk” to avoid long queues that have become a fixture of daily life at gas stations, he said.

The intensified chaos of recent years means that the southern border areas are more than ever a haven for extremists, traffickers and rebels.

These groups exploit a security vacuum that is exacerbated by an ongoing power struggle between a UN-backed Government of National Accord in Tripoli and a rival administration loyal to Haftar in northeastern Libya.

Tribal and ethnic quarrels between the Tubus, Tuaregs and Arab groups over trafficking have added fuel to the fire.

“We are Muslims, but we have a culture and language that we share with our cousins from Chad, Niger and Sudan,” explained Ali Yahyia, a Tubu expert on his community.

But this does not undermine “our support for the Libyan homeland,” he insisted.

The LNA launched its ongoing military campaign in mid-January and on Wednesday night entered Murzuk, another southern Libyan city home to many Tubus.

Renowned for a fortress that dates back more than seven centuries, much of the historic settlement now resembles a ghost town.

Murzuk’s windswept streets are littered with garbage.

Like Oubari, shops are closed and people are scared to circulate.

Even bakers — hit by a lack of flour — cannot raise their blinds.

“The city faces numerous problems at the service level, particularly at the hospital where we have only one doctor,” deplored municipal councillor Ibrahim Omar.

“With the military operations that are ongoing, the doctors refuse to come, fearing for their lives,” he said.

If the situation persists, “food stocks will in the end be exhausted.”