This happened just 100 miles from Cairo. Not in the Sinai desert, not in the western desert near Libya. On Friday, gunmen killed 30 Coptic Christians on their way to a monastery in Minya province south of Cairo. ISIS claimed responsibility. I talked about the significance of this a few minutes ago with host P.J. Maloney on KQV Radio in Pittsburgh.
It’s emerging now that the attack was not just a matter of terrorists opening fire on the bus. Passengers say gunmen boarded the bus, stole jewelry from the women, ordered some men off the bus and then opened fire on the Christians. You can see in the photo above that there are bodies outside the bus. So there were no police anywhere in the vicinity.
Today’s news is that Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi fired the security director for the Minya region. Because there was no security on the road to the monastery or forces guarding the roads around it, the terrorists escaped.
That shows the real problem–that such heavy security is needed so close to Cairo. El-Sisi responded by bombing what he said were terrorist camps in Derma on the coast of neighboring Libya, but residents say the bombs hit houses and killed civilians. It looks like a distraction–it appears that the real security problems are inside Egypt.
And so el-Sisi continued his crackdown. Yesterday he signed a tough law governing NGO’s, both foreign and domestic, requiring them to file their reports with the government before releasing them, among other things–threatening large fines and even prison terms for those who violate the new regulations. This means charities, democracy advocates, food programs and all the rest.
El-Sisi wants quiet and stability above all else, clearly above human rights. So far, at least, there is little evidence that masses of Egyptian people are ready to revolt again for the third time this decade. The top priorities for most Egyptians are getting food on the table and finding work. Democracy, demonstrations and all the rest are far down their list of priorities, and el-Sisi is building on that to maintain order.
What we in the developed West need to understand is–that’s not entirely a bad thing. A strong, stable Egypt is essential in the current, sometimes violent realignment in the Mideast, regardless of what happens internally. You’ll hear me say that we need to back el-Sisi, even if we have to hold our noses while we do it.