Spreading moderate religious discourse, ensuring youth employment, and reinforcing the principles of citizenship were among strategies to combat terrorism President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi suggested on Friday.
This came in the president’s first meeting with a recently formed national committee to fight terrorism. The committee is formed of statespeople along with experts from different social factions, including arts and culture, research, and security. The pope and the Grand Imam are also part of the committee.
Tolerance and acceptance must be taught in academic curricula at different educational stages, which is supposed to help state institutions in implementing such strategies, the president further told the committee.
The council was established in April with a declaration of a state of emergency, following Palm Sunday’s twin suicide bombings of churches, which killed dozens. The attacks came among others targeting Copts, including another church suicide bombing in December and a mass shooting on a bus in Minya in May.
The Islamic State (IS) group claimed to have carried out all attacks. There are several ongoing trials and investigations with suspects of belonging to terrorist cells, including some labelled as “Daesh cells”, but it is unclear which particular attacks they are supposedly linked to.
In his announced quest to fight terrorism since his run-up to the elections in 2014, Al-Sisi asserted that religious discourse needed to be changed in order to abolish extremist thought.
On the ground, however, religious institutions, which have condemned terrorist attacks in Egypt and worldwide, has not undertaken any major changes, except for putting mosques under state control.
Particularly, women rights-related reform was rejected by religious figures, including Al-Sisi’s suggestion to change the current divorce system, or the Tunisian president’s initiatives towards equal gender rights.
Meanwhile, the military said on Saturday that five people were arrested under terrorism charges. Authorities claim one of their major fights against terrorism includes militant targeting of police and army officers, of which thousands were killed and injured since 2013. There have been several attacks on checkpoints and security patrols.
On one hand, the “Sinai Province” militant group, which swore allegiance to the Islamic State group, is a source of unrest to the Egyptian army in North Sinai, which either announces its killing nad arresting of militants or destroying terrorist dens on a daily basis.
On the other hand, the Ministry of Interior had to face a different group known as the “Hasm Movement”, a militant group mainly targetting police officers. The group has claimed many of the individual attacks on policemen in mainland Egypt.
On Thursday, the ministry said it killed two of the group’s members in a gunfire exchange, following a series of such killings throughout the past month in similar situations reported by the ministry