File Photo: Egyptian parliament session (Photo: Ahram)
In an urgent plenary meeting on Monday, members of the Egyptian parliament came together to denounce the terrorist attack which hit Al-Rawda mosque in North Sinai on 24 November, leaving 305 worshippers dead and 125 injured.
Parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal said he has asked the committee of legislative and constitutional affairs to accelerate the process of debating a law aimed at financially compensating the families of the victims of the attack.
Abdel-Aal also indicated that he received assurances from acting Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli that the government will do everything possible to help the victims' families get the necessary financial compensation as decided by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.
“This is not a moment for sadness, rather this is a moment of action for helping the families of the victims,” said Abdel-Aal, adding that "the government promised that judicial courts will also soon be back to business in the city of Al-Arish, the capital of North Sinai, to help families get all the legal documents necessary to obtain the compensation."
MPs, especially those affiliated with North Sinai, said they want to sit down with Minister of Defence Sedki Sobhi to discuss security-related issues in North Sinai. "We want to tell him that terrorists were able to hit a mosque on a Friday and that the next time they might hit a school," said North Sinai MP Gharib Hassan, adding that "citizens want to tell Sedki that there should be more coordination with the army and police forces in fighting terrorist groups there."
North Sinai MPs also said they want a parliamentary delegation pay a visit to Al-Rawda mosque next week and perform the Friday prayers there to show solidarity with citizens there.
Abdel-Aal argued that the attack in North Sinai on 24 November shows that terrorists are ready to direct their guns at Muslims in the same way they kill the followers of other religions.
"These terrorists know no discrimination among religions and their main goal is to spread chaos and drive a wedge between the Egyptian people on one side and its army and police forces on the other," said Abdel-Aal, urging that "all Egyptians stand united in one line until we all defeat these dark forces."
Abdel-Aal said "there are thousands of mosques in Egypt and it is quite difficult for army and police forces to be mobilized to safeguard these mosques."
"But ordinary citizens themselves can help in preventing terrorists from targeting mosques and churches by cooperating with police and army forces," said the speaker.
The head of parliament’s legislative and constitutional affairs committee said that MPs are keen to see the completion of the debate on two laws compensating families of the victims of terrorist attacks and on toughening penalties against terrorism-related crimes.
“But apart from legislative measures, I want to say that though North Sinai’s terrorist attack is the worst in Egypt’s history in terms of number of victims, it will never break the national will of Egyptians,” said Abu Shoqa, adding that “Egypt, which defeated the Hyksos and Tartars in ancient times, will also be able to defeat terrorists.”