Egypt jihadist leader warns of Coptic 'triumph'

Ahram Online , Sunday 21 Apr 2013

Brother of Al-Qaeda leader warns Egypt's Coptic Christians could take advantage of instability and failure to implement Islamic Sharia law

Salafist lead Mohamed El-Zawahiri presents his views on the compatibility of Islam and Islamic Sharia law (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Mohamed El-Zawahiri, the brother of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman El-Zawahiri, has warned that the current instability in Egypt is "fertile ground for minorities [Coptic Christians] to 'triumph'.”

Speaking on the 'El-Hadath El-Masry' programme on El-Arabiya El-Hadath private satellite channel on Saturday, El-Zawahiri – who is a prominent Jihadist-Salafist leader in his own right – added that Egypt has “suffered many injustices because it has not implemented Sharia law. Sharia law has to be implemented and the Christians’ religious law must be implemented by them. This is only normal.”

Coptic Christians, who make up no more than ten percent of Egypt’s population, “benefit more than the majority of Muslims in Egypt," he asserted.

The Christian minority will not feel safe and secure until Islamic Sharia law is implemented, he added

El-Zawahiri, who in March said elections violated Sharia law, called on Egyptians to use customary conflict resolution committees rather than official mechanisms, “but only in the context of what is permissible” and not in all cases so persecution does not occur.

On a separate note, El-Zawahiri denied Jihadist-Salafists were responsible for the rockets launched from the Sinai Peninsula at the Israeli resort town of Eilat on Wednesday, asserting the armed groups had denied responsibility for the attacks. He admitted he had ideological sympathies with militant groups in Sinai but denied any organisational links. 

In 1999, El-Zawahiri was sentenced to death in absentia for terrorist attacks in Egypt, including the killing of 62 foreign tourists in the Upper Egyptian city of Luxor in 1997.

In June 2011, a military court accepted El-Zawahiri's appeal against the death sentence and the case was closed.

Last September, in an interview with CNN, El-Zawahiri proposed a truce – or hudna – between the West and the Islamist current, asserting that he was in a "unique position to help end the violence."

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