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Egypt MPs denounce recent security alert issued by US embassy

MPs said the alerts issued by a number of Western embassies were 'highly irresponsible'

Gamal Essam El-Din , Sunday 9 Oct 2016
The U.S embassy
The U.S embassy (C) building is pictured on a foggy day near Tahrir square in downtown Cairo, Egypt October 9, 2016 (Reuters)
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Views: 2894

Egyptian MPs denounced on Sunday security alerts issued by the US embassy in Cairo warning American citizens to avoid large gatherings and crowded spaces in Cairo on Sunday.

The MPs condemned the US embassy's action at a celebration marking the 150th anniversary of parliamentary life in Egypt at the Sinai resort of Sharm El-Sheikh.

MP and businessman Akmal Qortam told Ahram Online that the security alert issued by the US embassy was "highly irresponsible," and that it led other Western embassies in Cairo, including those of the UK, Canada and Australia, to issue similar warnings.

"International and diplomatic protocols dictate that foreign embassies should first coordinate with concerned authorities in their host countries before they issue such warnings," said Qortam.

"What these embassies did was in violation of all kinds of traditions," said Qortam, adding that the "vague warnings issued by these embassies cast doubts on their real intentions towards Egypt."

"These warnings go hand in hand with the negative reports [regularly] issued by Western media against Egypt," said Qortam.

The date mentioned in the security alerts, 9 October, is the fifth anniversary of clashes between security forces and mostly Coptic demonstrators in front of Cairo's Maspero television building, which resulted in the deaths of 24 protesters.

Coptic MP Magdi Malak stressed on Sunday that Egypt has been able to recover from the bloody events of the Maspero clashes.

"The high level of tension in Egypt that followed the 25 January Revolution led to the clashes between Coptic demonstrators and security forces," said Malak, "but now, after five years, we have been able to heal these wounds."

"While the government is doing everything possible to ensure that Egyptian Christians exercise their religious rituals freely, parliament also [recently] issued a new law that makes it much easier for Christians to build churches," said Malak.

Malak agreed that the "security alerts issued by Western embassies only contribute to opening old wounds and spreading a climate of uncertainty about security in Egypt."

Mohamed El-Orabi, the chairman of parliament's foreign relations committee, told reporters that the "successful holding of the 150-year anniversary celebrations on Sunday refutes Western claims about security threats in Egypt."

"The fact that the event was held in Sharm El-Sheikh in particular sends a message that the major Red Sea resort is completely safe and that Western embassies should help deliver this message to their citizens," said El-Orabi.

MP Tarek Radwan, who visited New York last month as a member of an Egyptian parliamentary delegation, pointed out that "when we were [in the US], a number of explosions hit the Chelsea neighbourhood of Manhattan."

"We did not see any foreign embassies in the US issue security alerts before or after these explosions," said Radwan.

Radwan added that although foreign embassies have the right to issue security alerts to ensure the safety of their citizens, "what these embassies did lacked transparency, and the warnings were issued for no clear reason and without coordination with local security officials." 

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