Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi delivers a speech at Al-azhar Conference Centre during Lailat al-Qadr celebrations in Cairo, in this July 24, 2014 handout courtesy of the Egyptian Presidency (Photo: Reuters)
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi vowed on Thursday to avenge all recent attacks against the security forces, and stressed the importance of a balanced understanding of religion to avoid extremism.
In a televised speech, El-Sisi said the presidency would provide all necessary support to Al-Azhar Islamic Institute to spread balanced views of Islam.
"I speak as a saddened human by the assaults I see against (my) religion," El-Sisi said. "The practices we present to the outside world… have given them the chance to attack us."
The speech was commemorating the anniversary of Laylat Al-Kadr (Night of Destiny), when Muslims believe the first verses of the Quran were revealed to the Prophet Mohammed. The event was attended by cabinet members and public figures, as well as people honoured for memorising the Quran.
Addressing the latest attack that killed 22 troops last week in Egypt's western desert, El-Sisi vowed to take revenge against the assailants and those supporting them.
"I swear to God, they will not get away with it," El-Sisi said firmly, to be followed by a round of applause from the attendees. "I assure you, we have either arrested them or challenged them and killed them…we are ready to die for our country and for our religion."
He also stressed the importance of understanding the Quran and abiding by its principles, and not just memorising its verses.
In the nearly 20-minute speech, El-Sisi also spoke of the bank account he has launched for donations and contributions to help the country's ailing economy. He said the account "Long Live Egypt" was not getting enough support and reiterated the necessity for Egyptians inside the country as well as those living abroad to contribute.
Also speaking at the ceremony, the head of Al-Azhar Institute, Ahmed El-Tayib, said Arab countries were facing a new kind of occupation that plants extremism and strife to fragment Arab states.
He referred Israel's latest attacks on Palestine that have claimed over 800 lives and caused massive destruction in the Gaza strip.
"The Zionists would not have dared to commit the Gaza slaughters, had the Arabs been united," El-Tayib said. "(Israel) has to know that the Palestinian issue is not exclusive for people in Palestine but rather the main Arab issue."