The French embassy in Giza has increased its security detail, following threats from Islamists who have promised to retaliate against France’s military intervention in Mali.
The French government announced earlier this week that they would be bolstering security in all foreign missions following the threats.
The decision to bolster security is, according to the French government, a precautionary measure given recent attacks on US embassies in the Arab world. According to the French consulate general in Egypt, the embassy demanded Egyptian authorities ensure
the security of its missions after calls were made for protests outside the embassy on Friday. “In response to this intervention, various extremists groups have publicly expressed threats against French interests, especially in Arab countries,” the consulate general said in a statement.
France’s military intervention is supported by a unanimous vote from within the United Nations Security Council, but France jumped the gun by sending in forces before the UN could flesh out the details. The French president Francoise Hollande defended his position by saying that the Mali government had requested their help and the UN supports the move.
African ECOWAS troops are also preparing to help the counter-offensive, following several requests by the Malian government for international intervention.
Nevertheless, Hollande’s decision to help Mali combat the extremist forces that have taken over the north has been met with condemnation from several Islamist groups across the world. The Egyptian Gama’a Al-Islamiya had called for protests outside the French embassy, and Mali Islamists warned that French citizens “in the Muslim World” are not safe from the repercussions.
The militants in Mali do not operate under a single banner, but are united in their demand for the implementation of Islamic Shari’a in Mali. There have been dozens of reports from Mali of beheadings, and other brutal punishments, for actions deemed criminal by militants.
Often such punishments are handed out in public, a strategy intended to shock the local community into compliance. Thousands of people have fled Northern Mali and sought refuge further south in places such as Bamako. The UN has said that an estimated 30,000
people have fled the rebel controlled north since the rebels renewed their offensive southwards last week. Since a military coup in May last year created a security vacuum in much of the country, the UN estimates over 230,000 people have fled from the militants.
Originally the security vacuum led the Tuareg minority in Northern Mali to declare its independence, but Islamist militants with ties to foreign terror cells such as Al-Qaeda usurped the movement. The Islamist militants have since then attempted to secure most of the country, moving further south.
Following the announcement of a military intervention, France advised 6,000 of its citizens in Mali to leave the country for their own safety. The embassy in Yemen has also been granted extra protection from the local government in preparation.