Egypt will light up the Great Pyramids of Giza with the colours of the French and Russian flags on Sunday night at 9:30 pm local time, as decided by the Ministries of Tourism and Antiquities, state-run media MENA reported Saturday.
The series of attacks in Paris on Friday happened two weeks after the Russian plane crash in Sinai, the aftermath of which Egypt is still enduring since the emergence of reports suggest that the plane was downed by a bomb.
No official links could be made between both incidents, since the attacks in France seem to be linked to its involvement in the attacks on “Islamic State” (IS) in Syria, especially after some witnesses told international media the attackers had said “this is for what you are doing in Syria”.
France has always been perceived as the leader of the “Crusaders” in the history of Islamist movements, according to, head of the Islamist Movements research programme at the Cairo-based Regional Centre for Strategic Studies (RCSS) Ali Bakr.
RCSS has established eight plausible reasons behind the Paris attacks, which researchers perceive as a “repeated scenario”:
- France’s secular system has become radicalised in itself, especially when it criticised the Muslim religion Charlie Hebdo-style, advocating “freedom of speech” and ignoring an outraged Muslim community
- The Muslim community in France is estimated at 6 million to 7 million, and is becoming more and more marginalised in French society
- France suddenly shifted positions by deciding to join the US-led coalition against IS
- Increased airstrikes by France in November against IS petroleum installations in northern Syria
- France made closer ties with Arab countries fighting terrorism, through arms deals with Egypt, Lebanon, and possibly Saudi Arabia
- Increasing France’s role in regional issues
- 250+ Islamic associations, including those that advocate political ideologies, exist in France
- Eagerness of the French to join militant groups, with estimations of 800 jihadists who went to Syria and Iraq, with 450 still fighting there
“IS executed their operations by coordinating with its agents inside Paris and that’s where French security has obvious shortcomings,” Bakr told Daily News Egypt.
“Those attacks are coming from us,” leader of the Egyptian Secularist Party (ESP) under foundation Hesham Ouf argued. “Our Islamic world suffers from the Wahabi ideology, the extremist version of Islam that we adopted as a region.”
According to Ouf, “Islamic State”, the Salafist Jihadist current, and others are the results of the spread of Wahabism within the Arab and Muslim world, and the direct result of misinterpretations of the Islamic religion.
Controversial reactions in local and social media
Egyptian TV host Lamees Al-Hadidy was widely criticised on social media for making a comment in which she said, “we should send Egyptian inspectors into French restaurants,” in a clear joke on international experts’ comments regarding Sharm El-Sheikh airport security.
Some local reactions were considered “outrageous” amid the drastic humanitarian circumstances, since over 300 people have been killed in the total of both incidents.
Despite Egypt’s official stance in supporting France, the hashtag #Why_Egypt spread on social media, where most users questioned why France had not been flagged as a travel destination but Egypt was, before the confirmation of a terrorist attack on the plane.
Ouf observed some “appalling reactions” in local media: “Normally, when a human being sees such incidents, they would be shocked and saddened, then eventually proceed to analyse the situation. But if your political stance will stop you from being that human, then you are a fascist, not much different from IS.”
Local condemnations of Paris attacks
A number of political parties and local NGOs have aligned with the Egyptian and international solidarity with the French people, condemning the attacks. Several issued their press statements in both English and French.
The Islamist Al-Wasat Party, headed by Aboul Ela Mady, described the attacks as “criminal operations targeting civilians”. The party also confirmed that the religion of Islam is innocent of these “heinous acts and are not the teachings of Islam”.
Head of the Conference Party Mokhtar Semeida said such “demeaning actions do not differentiate between Muslim and Christian, nor Arab or Western, because terrorism has no religion and no borders”. They demanded an international summit to be held to confront terrorism.
Furthermore, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party (SPAP), headed by Medhat El-Zahed, announced it was coordinating to send a delegation to the French embassy to offer their condolences to the “victims of inhumanity of Paris”.
Al-Dostour Party also condemned the attack, while prominent member Gameela Ismail also called for the protection of refugees from further violence. Ouf also supported the idea, although he expects more aggression against refugees.
“Europe has a radical right wing,” Ouf said. “I am against putting the blame on refugees in the latest attacks but I am aware that anybody can infiltrate any group amid the open ongoing migration movement.”
Ouf said the dilemma will remain on the table for advanced countries, to stand for humanity or to protect their national borders.
Al-Wafd Party issued a statement condemning the attacks. Meanwhile, as they were campaigning for parliamentary elections in Sharm El-Sheikh, president El-Sayed El-Badawy referred to a “conspiracy theory against Egypt”. He based it on the manipulation of the plane crash accident to the advantage of the West, led by the US, to hit the country’s economy.
Ouf is not in favour of conspiracy theories. “I believe that Western procedures followed in the aftermath of the Russian plane crash were valid and logical, even if final conclusions are yet to be made because the initial report showed something unusual,” he said.
Most Egyptians criticised foreign countries’ decision to ban their nationals form travelling to Egypt following the Russian plane crash. President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi expressed in a statement his “disappointment about jumping to conclusions before the official investigations were completed”.
“In Western standards, halting the flights to Egypt pending the results of the investigations is logical, while in our standards they are ‘hasty’ procedures,” Ouf said.
The Maat foundation, headed by Ayman Okeil, issued a statement in which it said the recent attacks prove that terrorism in nothing more than an act of aggression and organised crime against the human civilisation.
“As much as we understand the exceptional measures imposed in France for security reasons, we want the world to be understanding of similar actions taken in Egypt for the same reasons,” Maat said.
Furthermore, the statement said that countries that fund and support terrorist organisations and activities must be stopped, namely Qatar and Turkey, Okeil told Daily News Egypt Sunday.
Ouf recalled how in the “old days,” he had seen open secular environments in Cairo, Amman, Baghdad, and Damascus: “The attitude of the people did not differ from Europe, there was no such fanaticism.”
The question of how the world should combat terrorism and extremism remains a complex situation, Bakr said, noting that its needs careful analysis beyond basic security and human rights concerns.
Al-Azhar institution is currently embracing an extremist ideology and there seems to be no will, rather further radicalisation of religious speech, Ouf said.
The RCSS argued that the effects of Paris attacks, which extend to the Middle East, will be translated into more restrictions on refugees inside France and refugees heading to Europe, especially from Iraq and Syria. There will also be more French attacks against IS in Syria, that will come in favour of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.