Egyptians can’t believe their soldiers who were kidnapped in Sinai and later released by their captors were in fact ‘kidnapped’
Seven Egyptian security officers kidnapped in Sinai some two weeks ago were released by the captors a few days later. The military spokesman Ahmed Ali who announced their release on his Facebook page wrote: “The seven kidnapped Egyptian soldiers are on their way to Cairo after their release thanks to the efforts of Egyptian military intelligence in coordination with the elders of the tribes and clans of Sinai.”
The men had been seized by militants on the road between al-Arish and Rafah near the border with Israel on May 14. Egypt stepped up its military presence in Sinai in response, and President Mursi said there would be no talks with “criminals” and vowed not to submit to blackmail. The kidnappers demanded the release of jailed Islamists.
Belittling people’s minds
The incident outraged the Egyptian public who, despite relief at the peaceful liberation of the hostages, could not help questioning what really went on. The general feeling was that the happy ending was most unexpected, even if welcome, anticlimax; and that the kidnap/release carried hidden implications. Was the Islamist ruling regime in Egypt, in complicity with the Islamist militants backed by Hamas, up to some plan that served Islamist purposes and threw Egypt and its interests to the winds?
Watani made a quick survey of the online media for the various views on the incident.
On twitter, a founder member of 6 April movement, Ingy Hamdy, wrote, “We will not have our minds belittled; how and at what price were the seven soldiers released?”
“Congratulations, Egypt. The seven soldiers are safely back, but what of the kidnappers? Treating terrorists with compassion is tantamount to treason,” activist Ahmed Maher wrote his comment, wondering, “What if the kidnappers had belonged to some other group?” Maher was alluding to the fact that the kidnappers belonged to Islamist armed militias, and were thus viewed ‘kindly’ by the Islamist ruling regime in Egypt. President Mursi had made an official announcement once the kidnapping of the soldiers had been made public, calling for care for both the kidnapped soldiers and their kidnappers in the event of a rescue operation.
Mursi’s “dazzling success”
The Muslim Brotherhood’s (MB) website hailed the rescue.
Ahmed Omar, a civil servant, wrote a message of applause to the President, praising the “wisdom” he used to bring about a peaceful end to the hostage incident in Sinai.” Omar expressed his wish to bring the criminals to justice as soon as possible.
Shafeya Maarouf, a female poet, said that, “it was a difficult choice, but the President and his officials succeeded to preserve the State’s prestige and not to surrender to criminal blackmail. Had the soldiers been released upon negotiation with the kidnappers, more such deeds would be expected.”
“The dazzling success of President Musri who, without bloodshed, liberated the hostages, has hit hard all his enemies be they politicians, seculars, opposition figures or media figures. It was enough to give them collective heart attack.” That was a post by TV sports host Alaa Sadeq.
Mohamed al-Zawahiri, the prominent Jihadi leader, said that, “releasing the seven soldiers proved that the Jihadi stream was innocent of allegations that they were guilty of conducting the kidnap operation.” He went so far as to demand that the Egyptian armed forces should withdraw from Sinai.
Magdy Himdan, a leader at al-Gabha (The Front) Party, and a member of the liberal National Salvation Front, believes that the entire kidnap/release operation was no more than a well-played scenario that aimed at distracting public attention from the current campaign of Tamarud (Rebel) that aims at bringing down President Mursi and which has met huge public response. “Who can believe that the jihadists released the kidnapped soldiers so peacefully, without any demands, conflict, or violence? And where are those jihadists? Shouldn’t they have been caught?
Mustafa Bakry, previous MP and journalist, said that, “Mursi exploited the kidnap/release incident as though he were on an election trail. He gave himself full credit for the liberation of the soldiers, forgetting that, instead, he should have borne the full brunt of their kidnapping in the first place. To say nothing of the mock he has made of the prestige of the Egyptian State.”
Salah Sharaby, a journalist at al-Wafd paper, wrote, “The declarations made by MB figures on the incident reveal that the MB have no scruples about blatantly propagating untruths. They deal with Egyptians as though they are gullible and so easy to deceive.”
On Facebook, however, among the most circulated posts was one that read: “Thank God the seven soldiers have been released. But why haven’t others who were kidnapped in earlier incidents been released too? Because those were really kidnapped, stupid.”
But maybe the most pertinent question was one posed by Soliman Shafiq: Why didn’t the Islamist regime in Egypt condemn the kidnapping, and why did they refrain from branding the kidnappers as ‘terrorists’?
31 May 2013