Ultraconservative Islamist party starts initiative to stop violence in Sinai

Adham Youssef
5 Min Read
"State of Sinai" militant during allegedly during exchange of fire with security forces. "State of Sinai" affiliated Twitter account.

The Building and Development Party, the political faction of Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya group, called on Saturday for ending the state of violence in the Sinai Peninsula.

The party appealed to Al-Azhar, calling for its intervention to adopt this initiative and work on modifying it to reach its goal.

The initiative started with asserting that continued bloodshed in Sinai fuels more vendettas, which incite more conflict and heavy casualties.

It also warned against the danger the conflict poses, as it “weakens the first line of defence with the Zionist entity.”

The party similarly warned that the conflict might cause foreign intervention, the expansion of the insurgency to the Delta, a chance for “takfiri” extremist thoughts to rise, and an effect on the economic structure of the country, as well as an effect on the sovereignty of the state.

The party said that the plan of reconciliation is divided into four steps: containing the crisis, pointing out the problems and solutions, setting a timetable, and forming a resolution.

The first suggested step entails that the militant groups declare a ceasefire starting 25 April, in exchange for the government stopping its military raids, as well as ending campaigns of distortion, which allegedly question the patriotism of Sinai locals.

The second step includes dialogue, holding a conference to study the needs and demands of the Sinai residents, ending the state of emergency, limiting strict security operations, and freeing detainees who are not involved in terrorism-related cases. Finally, it entailed the return of deported civilians, both Muslims and Christians.

The third step includes dropping charges against Sinai civilians, putting a moral code for the press when handling the situation in Sinai, and putting a development plan for the region.

As for the fourth and last step, it entails forming a national council from among the Sinai locals, which would announce the names of Sinai locals to be pardoned by the state and put guarantees to the conflicting sides to remain in peace.

The party ended the proposal by calling on various parties, state institutions, and personnel to discuss this initiative for the common good of the nation.

The reconciliation initiative commemorates the liberation of Sinai, which is on 25 April, calling for all factions of the country to “limit this crisis that causes a deep crack in the nation.”

Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya shifted from militancy in 1996 after making ideological revisions and reaching a conclusion to stop considering the state as an enemy. During the 1980s and 1990s, the group entered a bloody conflict with the state, leading to the death of dozens of security forces, citizens, and group members.

After the revision, the group began preaching and performing social works in Upper Egypt and impoverished areas of Cairo and Giza. After the 25 January Revolution, they invaded the political scene through a political party called the Building and Development Party.

There have been previous attempts to achieve peace between different conflicting sides in Sinai after violence in the peninsula has reached a peak that left dozens of civilians, militants, and security personnel dead. Last Thursday, a controversial video was circulated, showing the alleged summary execution of Sinai civilians by army soldiers.

The video has caused uproar in upper circles in Sinai tribes, according to local sources, but they haven’t yet channeled this anger publicly. The source, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that “an uprising of anger and dissatisfaction is building up in Sinai.”

The source added that the security forces are trying to maintain the situation by holding meetings with heads of tribes, but “the problems still exist with the youth and the marginalised.”

“We wish the state collaborates in a perfect way with the tribes in South Sinai and provides them with benefits and facilitates their business. This is not applied in the North, where alienation and antagonism are severe due to there being heavy civilian casualties,” the source explained.

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