By Abdel-Rahman Hussein
CAIRO: A group of National Democratic Party (NDP) MPs have called for criminal charges against certain media outlets over their coverage of the Alexandria church bombing on Jan. 1 due to their “promotion of sectarian disunity.”
The calls were spearheaded by MP and the president’s chief of staff Zakaria Azmi, who reportedly said that some media outlets were impeding the investigations of the bombing and that this was a crime punishable by law.
“Let security work and stop the conjecture,” local media reported him as saying last Monday.
His comments were reiterated by head of the NDP bloc in the recently constructed parliament Abdel-Ahad Gamal Eldin at a lecture where he said those who promote sectarian strife amongst the media should be shut down.
Gamal Eldin told Daily News Egypt on Thursday, “Those who instigate sectarian strife that causes disunity in Egypt commit crimes punishable under law. The emergency law is related to crimes of drug-trafficking and terrorism, but causing sectarian division is more dangerous than drugs and as dangerous as terrorism and those who do it should be punished under criminal law and the emergency law.”
Gamal Eldin refused to single out any specific media outlets he felt had done this but he also pointed out that he was not referring to any media that was covering the events, but only those who “cause division.”
However, independent MP Mohamed Abdel-Aleem Dawood reportedly said that there were sectarian issues that needed to be debated, and there were problems with both Muslim and Christian places of worship that needed to be addressed.
He was shot down by parliament speaker Ahmed Fathi Sorour who said that addressing certain issues in the wake of a terrorist attack meant that there was a relation between the two, which he insisted was not the case.
The New Year’s bombing of the Church of the Two Saints in Alexandria resulted in the death of 23 people and 90 injured. Since the attack an Alexandrian Muslim has allegedly been tortured to death. Another attack occurred on a train in Samalout when an off-duty policeman shot and killed a Christian man and injured five of his family.
Protests have broken out in the wake of the initial attack in Cairo and Alexandria, where security forces kettled and injured protestors. There has been no significant breakthrough in discovering who was behind the attack.