Widespread condemnation in Egypt for bomb attack

Ahram Online , Thursday 5 Sep 2013

Islamist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, condemned the attack and denied any connection with the attempt to assassinate the interior minister

Interior Minister
Egyptian security officers guard the scene of a bomb attack targeting the convoy of Egypt's Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim (Photo: AP)

The Muslim Brotherhood has condemned a bomb attack in Cairo targeting the convoy of the interior minister on Thursday, which left the minister unscathed but injured dozens of people.

Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim survived an assassination attempt when a bomb detonated early near his convoy in the eastern Cairo district of Nasr City. At least 21 people, including six security officers and a child, were injured in the attack, according to Egypt's health ministry. Some shops were also damaged in the blast, along with four cars from the minister's convoy.

The interior ministry, along with the army, has been on the receiving end of violent attacks in the two months since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in early July. Deadly attacks on state buildings and checkpoints in Sinai have killed dozens of policemen. The government accuses Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood of inciting the violence, although leaders of the group have insisted they do not condone the attacks.

A deadly raid by police on Islamist-led protest sites in Cairo on 14 August left hundreds of protesters dead and thousands injured, setting off days of bloody violence around the country. More than 100 members of the security forces were killed in the ensuing violence and street clashes.

"The political disagreement with the Muslim Brotherhood cannot turn in to committing violence," Amr Darrag, a former minister and a leading member of the Brotherhood told Al-Ahram's Arabic website, adding that he was shocked by the attack.

In an earlier phone call to satellite television channel Al Jazeera Mubashar Misr, Darrag had said that the Brotherhood condemned the attack.

"We strongly condemn the car bombing targeting the interior minister. Peacefulness is the only path."

"Carrying out such attacks to frame the Islamist groups and parties is an evil thing," said Darrag, echoing a sentiment expressed by other Islamist movements that the incident was "an attempt to frame Islamist groups and accuse them of terrorism."

Darrag stressed that dialogue channels should be open in order to end the current crisis, although he denied recent news reports that there have been ongoing talks between the Brotherhood and the current government through mediators.

Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya and its political arm, the Building and Development Party, also condemned the attack and denied any connection with it. "Whoever stands behind this attack wants to cut off all avenues for national reconciliation in Egypt," said the ultra-conservative Islamist group. The group was involved in terrorist attacks in the 1980s and 1990s but has since renounced violence.

The Wasat Party, an Islamist party allied with the Brotherhood, also condemned the attack on its official Facebook page and called on all Egyptians to do what they can to support national reconciliation.

Islamists blamed

Other political forces have accused the Brotherhood and its allies of being behind the assassination attempt.

Kamel El-Helbawy, a former leading member in the Brotherhood who is now a prominent critic of the group said that those responsible for the attack were those who had been defeated politically and wanted to return to power "at any price."

"I expect that other figures will be targeted because this is a part of a conflict and a desire for revenge," El-Helbawy, who was selected by the current government as a member of the committee amending the constitution, told Al-Ahram Arabic.  

"We are returning back to early 1980s when violent Islamist groups fought against the regime."

Ahmed Darrag, a leading member in the anti-Morsi National Salvation Front, believes that the Brotherhood is responsible for the terrorist attack.

"The Muslim Brotherhood is mainly responsible for this attack, along with the groups that support it like Hamas, as well countries like the United States, Germany and the UK," Darrag told Al-Ahram Arabic.

The co-founder of the anti-Morsi 'Rebel' (Tamarod) campaign, Mahmoud Abdel-Aziz, condemned the assassination and insisted that Egypt would not be like Iraq or Lebanon.

"Terrorism will be defeated in Egypt regardless of what the international terrorist organisation wants," said Abdel-Aziz on his Facebook page.

The government also issued a short statement condemning the attempt. "This criminal act will not stop the government from confronting terrorism with all force and determination until stability returns to Egypt," it read.

The April 6 Youth Movement - Ahmed Maher Front was among the first movements to denounce and condemn the assassination attempt. "The April 6 Youth Movement condemns the assassination attempt on the interior minister and believes the perpetrators should be brought to justice soon," it wrote on its Facebook page.

"There is no alternative before us except to hurry in adopting transitional justice to resist the spread of terrorism once again in Egyptian society," said the revolutionary group.

The Popular Current movement also published a statement stressing its rejection of "transformation of a political disagreement into the language of explosives and assignations." The Nasserite group also restated its full support for the current government and its institutions, which it said were facing "black terrorism."

Hossam Bahgat, the director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, also condemned the assassination attempt.

"Mohamed Ibrahim, the interior minister, is a criminal and we have demanded his dismissal and trial since February, but the attempt to assassinate him is criminal and foolish and we may all pay the price," said Bahgat on his Twitter account.

Ibrahim was appointed as interior minister by then-president Morsi in January.

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