Problems on hold
The gruesome video aired last week showing the lineup of 21 Egyptian Christians led by ruthless gladiators on the beachfront then brutally beheaded left Egypt in shock, grief, and wrath.
The 21 martyred Copts joined the ranks of Egypt’s victims in her battle against terrorism, leaving behind families whose hearts were wrenched not once but twice. First for losing their loved ones, and again for being helpless to bring their bodies back home for decent burials. As I think of the anguished families of these martyrs I can only pray for the good Lord to pour comfort and peace in their hearts.
But Egypt did not sleep that fateful night. The flood of emotions that gripped men and women overflowed into the social media and satellite channels. It was obvious that the tragedy, even though it was the Copts alone who had been savagely targeted on their Christian identity, was that of Egypt in her entirety. It was also evident that Egypt will not be brought to her knees by terrorism and will continue to battle it until she utterly overcomes it. Egyptians would not be broken on account of the ghastly, appalling crime that defied all human conscience and religious values.
As though it were not enough that Egypt is already engrossed in a battle against terrorism on her soil, another horrific episode of terrorism had hit from outside. The targeting of Egyptians—especially Copts—in Libya was not new; it has been going on for the past year or so. Egypt, however, exercised self control and respected the fact that there was a legitimate governement in Libya even though it was not in full control of the country. But this was prior to the recent horrendous crime. The beheading of the 21 Copts represented a flagrant slap in the face of Egypt; Egyptians felt that silence could no longer be an option.
That evening, it was obvious that the sense of wrath and indignity engulfing Egyptians could not have sustained rhetoric by a President or any official condemning the incident and offering condolences, or even declaring national mourning. All this would have been too predictable to quell the anger of Egyptians and their simmering emotions. Besides the loss of the 21 martyrs, the Egyptian State’s sovereignty and dignity had been gravely violated, and this could not be brushed over.
Such were the feelings which engulfed Egyptians Sunday evening. They expressed a true Egyptian national sense and a deep wound sustained with heads held high, with determination and confidence in the wisdom of the Egyptian leadership. I suppressed my anxiety as I spotted the impatience of Egyptians and their demand for a swift, strong reaction. However I realised that any military intervention to hit terrorism outside Egypt would require time and meticulous planning. Following an emergency meeting between the President and the National Defence Council the President addressed the people stressing that Egypt reserves the right of retaliation, and with the methods and timing it sees fit for retribution. We thus did not expect any swift reaction. Yet I was gripped with worry whether Egyptians would understand and be patient.
The wisdom, vision, capacity and preparedness of Egypt, her President and great army manifested themselves at dawn the following day, sooner than anyone thought or expected. The Egyptian airforce successfully targeted the terrorist sites in Libya, in coordination with the Libyan authorities. The message to Egyptians was a reassuring confirmation that Egypt’s rights are not dispensible and her dignity is inviolable. Their message to the world was that Egypt is steadily moving ahead with her battle against terrorism, and that her hand can reach it and beat it.
I thank President Sisi who said, “Egyptians must wake up redeemed”. And I thank Egypt’s great army who restored Egypt’s dignity. Our battle against terrorism is not over; we are taking it in steady steps.
22 February 2015