Egyptians worry ISIL's threat may grip their country any time

Egyptians worry ISIL's threat may grip their country any time
Tue Jul 8, 2014 19:26:10

The Egyptian public views the situation in Iraq with alarm as it finds parallels between the actions of the so-called "Islamic State in Iraq and Levant" (ISIL) in Iraq and radical groups operating in Sinai.

"Egyptians have a strong desire to protect the Arab youth from extremist ideology because armed groups like ISIL and al-Qaeda have misled many of them," said Sheikh Ibrahim Negm, media advisor to the Grand Mufti of Egypt, according to al-Shorfa.

These groups espouse an ideology which is "is completely removed from Islam and its tolerant teachings that prohibit the destruction of countries and shedding of human blood", he told Al-Shorfa.

Media and religious institutions in all Arab countries must work to educate young people and the general public that ISIL and other extremist groups have "gone astray" from Islam, Negm said.

They have done this through their faulty interpretation of sharia, he said, and they have been "carried away with their erroneous understanding of the Qur'anic verses and hadith".

Additionally, he said, they have "issued perverse fatwas to justify the bloodshed and destruction and division of the countries in which they have surfaced".

Egyptians view what is happening in Iraq as a nightmare that could be repeated in their country should the political process fail or if the government fails to contain these groups, said Ahmed Ulaiba, a researcher specialized in counter-terrorism and regional security.

Public opinion polls conducted prior to the presidential election reveal that Egyptians understand the government must put all its weight into solving economic problems and creating jobs for young people so they do not fall prey to recruitment by extremist groups, he added.

Youth must not live on the margins of society and watch what is happening in their country without having any role, as this creates a fertile environment for terrorist recruitment, Ulaiba said.

Many Egyptians view ISIL's actions in Iraq as a danger to the entire region.

The spread of terrorism might set back the region's economy once more due to the reluctance of investors to infuse funds into the market, said private bank employee Ihab Ahmed, 28.

"Unless ISIL is eliminated in Iraq and Syria", it may surface in other countries later, Ahmed told Al-Shorfa.

"All doors must be closed in the face of terrorist groups and the problems of the youth in Arab countries must be solved […] so that these organizations will not find any supporters," he said.

Retired police officer Abdul Hamid Ibrahim, 62, said ISIL "is no different than any terrorist organization in any other Arab country, because they all want to demolish the state and spread extremism and violence".

"The existence of this organization is a threat to everyone, despite the fact that it is currently confined to Syria and Iraq," he said. "Everyone must unite and eradicate it before it spreads like a cancer."

Poverty, illiteracy and ignorance of true Islam are the key reasons behind the expansion of extremist organizations in Arab countries, Ibrahim said.

"Therefore, religious institutions must educate the youth at all times about the danger of joining these groups, and the fact that working with them brings harm to Islam and distorts its image," he added.

Government employee Iman Mohammed, 44, told Al-Shorfa she is greatly concerned that groups like ISIL may reach Egypt, given its current security situation.

"We are weary of the repeated story of terrorist groups," she said. "No one knows what they want and they are incapable of understanding that they know nothing about the Islam they claim to be defending."

Every time Mohammed watches an ISIL video, she said she feels as though "we have turned back hundreds of years, to the pre-Jahiliyyah and pre-Christianity eras".


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