Egypt Is Failing to Deal With Its Sinai Insurgency

President Sisi, like his predecessors, thinks brutality will defeat militants. It won’t.

Comments: 160

  1. Apart from criticizing of the Egyptian rulers, does Ms. Eltahawy have anything to suggest, how to combat and eradicate the terrorism? The plans for economic development of North Sinai and other depressed areas would not produce immediate results. These are the solutions of lotus-eating armchair-liberals, touchy-feely, and goody-goodies.

  2. The successive rulers for years, if you read her closely, has been doing the samething, brutally killing, torturing and sometimes setting the local farms aka livelihoods on fire to root them out. What's are the success? Militarily sounds good and macho but when asked to accout of its success the default is always name calling: liberal pacifist. There lies the madness: doing the samething and expecting a different outcome.

  3. I think Ms. Eltahawy's major point is that there are no quick-fix solutions. The roots of current terrorism across the Middle East in the name of Islam have been developing for quite a long time thanks to the behavior of governments like those of Egypt, which have often been supported (or kept in power) by Western governments who wanted stability at all costs. I don't believe the issue here is who's liberal or conservative; it is about who has a thorough understanding of the complex history of the region.

  4. What results has brutality brought us, immediate or otherwise? Has terrorism ended? No. If anything, it just gets worse, morphing into different forms, with no apparent lack of recruits. Of course economic development in depressed areas will not produce immediate results. But results will come and when they do, everyone, except terrorists, wiil thrive because of it.

  5. The question now is if North Sinai will be loyal to Egypt or become pro-Israel. Sisi better have some talks with Israel and Washington.

  6. Don't be silly. Israel has better things to do than to take on people who are ten times more trouble than they're worth. Egypt is stuck with them, and that's really too bad for Egypt.

  7. You can bet that the Egyptian, Israeli, and U.S. governments are already working in close collaboration - and have been for years.

  8. "It is unclear who carried out the attack, though groups claiming affiliation with the Islamic State are known to operate in the area." True, no one has claimed responsibility for this mosque attack but the attack bears all the hallmarks of an attack by ISIS. Even the Egyptian President Sisi recently expressed his concern that "as ISIS militants flee Iraq and Syria they will come to Egypt". Egyptian security forces face almost daily attacks from ISIS-aligned militants, whom they have been battling in northern Sinai for years. In October 2015, 224 people were killed when a bomb brought down a Russian passenger jet that crashed in the Sinai Peninsula. ISIS' affiliate in Egypt claimed that attack. Mosque attacks have never happened but this is a Sufi mosque, known for being the birthplace of Sheikh Eid al-Jariri, a Sufi cleric considered the founder of Sufism in the Sinai Peninsula. ISIS hate Sufis whom they consider heretics so it is not surprising that they chose this mosque. President Sisi has to defeat the ISIS "militarily" there is no other way, After all this is a war on terrorism.

  9. There is no such thing as a war on "terrorism". That is the brainwashing tool used to keep us, the people, quiescent while our leaders do as they please. A war can only be conducted against an actual enemy. "Terrorism" is not an actual enemy. Who is? To Sisi and his think-alikes in the U.S. and elsewhere, it is the people of conflict regions. Hence precisely targeted random drone killings and the creation of more and more recruits for terrorist organizations. This strategy, which in truth is the failure to strategize, is worse than nothing.

  10. Totally agree. Ever since Napoleon occupation of Spain the concept of war on terror has only led to massacres, torture , privation of freedoms, and ultimately failure. There clearly is an enemy, but it is not a war

  11. @Thomas Zaslavsky - Binghamton NY - What you write here is what someone at the New York Time should be writing. All we get is that some attacks in the US are terrorism or are carried out by "terrorists" and others are not terrorism and are not carried out be terrorists. Who at the New York Times could write that first column: War On Terrorism Is An Oxymoron or Does anyone in the U.S. government, past or present, understand that there can be no "war on terrorism"? And for that matter, why are our drone attacks viewed as the just actions of a free-world country instead of being seen for what they often are, murder (takes me back to early Homeland). Dual citizen US SE

  12. It took a long time for England to cease regarding -- and using -- Australia as a penal colony. This is largely because penal colonies are useful things to have in which one might bury the troublesome. If anything causes Egypt to pay serious attention to Sinai after this horrific incident, it will be that ISIS may have caused it, and they represent a serious threat, not merely to the penal colony but to the motherland.

  13. So sad that you are all too right.

  14. Tell me, which country is succeeding?

  15. Thank you Ms Mona for telling us what is going on in Egypt.

  16. 2 comments about the horror pictures from Egypt MS Eltahawy: the first is, that like other similar pictures the world sees from the Muslim world, I appreciate that you did not mention Israel at all. It is time that Muslims, especially Arabs, will understand that Israel is not a factor in the carnage of innocents Muslims projected from your world. It also teaches us Israelis what will happened to us if we show weakness. Second, you are correct in your assumption that a "carrot approach" by the Egyptian government may solve part of the problem but only a very small part. What we see in the Sinai is not a "Bedouin problem" it is a Muslim problem, a Sunni-Shiites problem, entwined with poverty and lack of proper education. Egypt has 100 million people to feed and there is no way it can be done so the "crazies" have broad operational leeway to act. I really wish that your conclusion that Sisi needs to seriously commit to antidotes to terrorism: jobs, dignity and a life worth living but I am afraid it will not work and can not be done.

  17. Israel has 6 million Christian Muslim Arab Palestinian Israelis under it's dominion by occupation, blockade/siege, exile and 2nd class citizenship that denies their divine natural equal certain unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Israel is the number one state sponsor of terrorism with nuclear weapons in the Middle East. Israel is not a civil secular plural egalitarian democracy for all people. There is no American state nor territory nor possession named Israel. But Israel and Israelis receive more favorable treatment than African and Puerto Rican Americans. The Arab Muslim Palestinian Bedouin were not the perpetrators of the Holocaust. European Christian nation states and faiths were. Jews were not the first nor the last ethnic faith group to occupy this land.

  18. The author says: Those who are serious about Egypt’s security have long pleaded for development for the marginalized and neglected North Sinai." And yet the mosque belonged to a MINORITY Muslim group ... how does that jive with this attack where ostensibly disgruntled minorities have expressed their hate and ire? The problem is the deep hostilities that people of different religious beliefs hold toward out-groups in the region. Even the Muslim Brotherhood have some extreme views about the Shia Muslims who are the largest religious minority in the Muslim world outside Iran and Iraq. Such animosity is NOT going to be alleviated with development alone -- as Saudi Arabia's financial help to promote rigid version of Islam outside its borders attests to. While one certainly doesn't want to alienate its own people to fight its own government's misguided policies, a long-term and more abiding solution is spreading the notion that human life is more important than human beliefs.

  19. Arif, could you please clarify the following: "While one certainly doesn't want to alienate its own people to fight its own government's misguided policies..." Thank you.

  20. @Pitilesss, I mean it's not, in general, in the interest of the rulers to have policies in place that they KNOW will turn out to be unsuccessful and will create violent unrest -- unless a government is so malicious that it wishes to harm its own people deliberately for some perverted ends. In other words, a government, too, can make honest mistakes, without meaning to.

  21. Thank you, Ms. Eltahawy, for spelling out what should have long since been apparent - that scorched-earth approaches in Sinai (and elsewhere) are futile and counterproductive. It is not enough even to say that ISIS necessitates a military approach, because Sinai has incubated terrorists long before the Islamic State existed. ISIS is, however, taking full advantage of the circumstances and ideology in Sinai. The Egyptian military and police forces have used heavy-handed techniques for years on end in Sinai and have nothing to show for it but lost lives, civilian and uniformed. Only mutual mistrust grows. The non-extremist citizens of Sinai (who are the majority) can be valuable in driving terrorists from their midst, but the Egyptians government will have to: show themselves trustworthy; show Sinai residents that life will be better without Islamist violence; better integrate Sinai with the rest of the country, as it is currently tied mostly through tourist areas. Trump again spoke of a fabled military triumph against terrorism. This same man who spoke lightly of torture and extrajudicial killings as options. Well, Egypt has used both unsparingly, and they are none the safer for it.

  22. I entirely agree. When will the world, indcluding the US, stop trying to beat terrorists at their own game? It has not worked and it will not work. Terrorism thrives on brutality- its own and that of its opponents. Give people economic opportunity, a just legal system, and a sense of belonging to the community, and terrorism will eventually wither. We need to stop wasting time and resources on endlessly futile attempts to kill off terrorism, when we should be putting those efforts and resources into developing stable communities where terrorism can no longer sustain itself. Our response to terrorism since 9/11 has had all of the subtlety of a bludgeon and the effectiveness of scattershot. It's not too late to try a different approach.

  23. Amen to everything you say. But the US somehow thinks that waging forever war abroad won't come home. It did once but they failed to acknowledge even that.

  24. Right on! But America annually spends more on it's military than the next eight nations combined. Including 9x Russia and 3x China. America uses less than 1% of it's annual budget on humanitarian foreign aid. The major recipients of American foreign aid is focused on military arming the likes of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, etc. The entire State Department annual budget is roughly equal to three Ford class aircraft carriers aka $36 billion.

  25. "Give people economic opportunity, a just legal system..." Great idea! (How, again?)

  26. "He needs to seriously commit to ... jobs, dignity and a life worth living." The lack of those is the root cause of many things, such as crime and drug abuse. Yet there is a tendency in many countries, not least the US, to adopt "militaristic" solutions like the "War on Drugs", rather than addressing the root causes. These have little or no effect and quite often have effects in other areas; for example clamping down on drugs tends to increase crime.

  27. Less stick and more carrot by developing the neglected areas sounds good. The current polices sound good too but aren't working. Any evidence that any of those approaches work?

  28. Ok, but light years better than Morsi. I recently returned from a trip to Egypt. The business owners of Egypt, Sunni, Coptic, and Other, support Sisi. A soft touch will not crush ISIS. Profitable development and investment won't occur without security progress. Sisi is very good for Egypt.

  29. I'm sorry, but why should I care? I have too many things to care about already. I can only care about so much. I am sorry for your problems. But they do not rise to the level of my concerns. And I'm not being facetious -- all of these modern concerns want my attention, but I cannot give to all and remain healthy.

  30. Sometimes it may seem difficult to care, as we are exposed to one tragedy after another, mostly in far away places that seem unrelated to our lives and over which we have no control. Yet, when we do not care, I believe we suffer in certain ways. We run the risk of isolating ourselves from the suffering of others. When many people do this, large groups of people, even nations fail to understand the workings of the world, and their own, sometimes subtle participation in the madness. Just to share one of what could be many examples: what if the weaponry involved in some of these horrific faraway incidents is being produced close to our own homes? I believe we each have a responsibility to be aware of what is happening around the world, and to do what we can in our own small ways to set wrongful things right. When we turn our eyes away, we harden our hearts, even if we do not realize it. To some degree, we are all guilty of this, but it is not healthy for ourselves nor the planet. I am grateful to the journalists who struggle and manage to publish these articles, as we would otherwise be ignorant of the reality of the world we live in.

  31. The “your problems” that you are referring to are our problems — caused by the billions in weapons we send the Egyptian military every year and the billions more they get from Saudi Arabia who buys them from us. Egypt is the second largest recipient is US aId (almost all military) You are a taxpayer subsidizing this carnage. You better care.

  32. why did you bother to read the article and write a response if the issue doesn't matter to you?

  33. Thank you Mona for this courageous coverage. As you know the US media has been poor in its coverage of international issues, and also tends to be one sided when it comes to Middle Eastern affairs. This carnage is shocking for its organized level of many targets. I hope things settle down there.

  34. The dictatorship of Sisi can't deal with this, because the dictatorship is the cause of this. At the end of Mubarak's time, his supporters were down to about 15% of the population. The rest were: Westernized "students" about 10%, radical Islamists now tearing up the place at about 25% on the far other side, and a middle 50% of moderate but not Westernized Muslims who were the traditional middle of the country. Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood were that middle 50%. There were problems among them, but they voted against the radicals and against the dictatorship. The Westernized students were their kids and most educated siblings. There was not so much open hostility there as there was to dictatorship, and to radicals bent on craziness instead of a better life in Egypt. Morsi had a narrow margin of control in revolutionary times, and the security state and economy were still run by holdovers from the dictatorship. He made mistakes, and other mistakes were imposed on him. His own worst mistakes he backed off from quickly, as with his brief attempt to rule by decree. Remember there was not yet an elected Parliament, nor a Constitution. He came first. Morsi was the moderate middle attempting to control the Islamists off to his side, half his strength. When the dictatorship came roaring back, it was the other extreme 15% attempting to crush everyone, itself the "proof" of what Islamists said, that moderation had no future. Things then exploded. The dictatorship ignited that.

  35. Religious murder needs no motivation outside of a helpful victim to kill. Conquistadors didn't bash the skulls of newborn South American natives because they were oppressed, they did it because they could. Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction. - Blaise Pascal, philosopher and mathematician (1623-1662)

  36. Egypt suffers from the same political dysfunction of Bashar al-Assad's Syria with a difference, the tribe forcing its will is the Crony Capitalist Military lead by General Sisi. Operationally the other difference is that they try to put down the rebellion with American, instead of Russian, fighter aircraft and helicopters.

  37. I have seen Ms. Eltahawy's frequent appearances on TV and I respect her, but here I disagree. The Sinai is a thinly populated desert area...and mostly flat. It is NOT like overcrowded upper and lower Egypt along the Nile, and it is not like mountainous Afghanistan. (And the terrorists are not seeking a social development program...quite the opposite.) The Sinai is thus a perfect place for counter-terrorist operations by flooding the area with troops, concentrating most of the population there into controlled areas, and declaring a "free-fire" zone in the rest of the peninsula. It is absurd that the Sisi regime has yet to get a handle on terrorism there. It is for plain lack of effort.

  38. Really? These Sufi were murdered because Sisi wasn't committing sufficient funds to development and poverty amelioration? By that logic, if Trump were to cut the Social Security cost of living adjustment senior citizens in the US would murder the nearest congregation of, well, I don't really know what. The Sufi were murdered because they are considered heretics by their murderers. End of story.

  39. This is the same Mona Eltahawy that supported the 2013 military overthrow of a moderate Islamist government in Egypt. That coup likely played some role in radicalising Islamists against democratic rules and peaceful methods. Certainly Islamic State used that coup in their anti-democratic propaganda. In Egypt today violent radical Islamists share prison space with non-violent Muslim Brotherhood activists; this exposure is more likely to radicalise Brotherhood people than moderate the IS radicals. Eltahawy has since, I think, come to regret supporting the coup, and I'm glad about that, but some self-reflection on her part would boost her credibility.

  40. Nonsense. The Muslim brotherhood was a disaster at governing. Look at the number of attacks on Coptic Christians while morsi was in power. The Sisi government has many problems, but the discrimination the Copts have faced for many years became outright open attacks under morsi. I know. I'm Coptic and have many family still in Egypt. For his part Sisi hasn't defended religious minorities as much as he should. However to call the MB moderate is factually incorrect. They advocate a theocracy with sharia law. The only good thing in recent egyptian history was morsi's overthrow.

  41. Al Sisi will see the daesh as his enforcers and therefore his friends. WHy should he care what goes on in this portion of Egypt, that is a literal and figurative wart attached to Israel and the Nile, created by religious extremism. It is not really considered part of ordinary, ordinary Egypt where killing Coptic Christians is OK, but the people don't go after those they consider their own. Something is different about all religion in the middle East, people and thiir thinking are reduced to the lowest common denominators of violence and brutality. The rulers will use the 3 days of mourning to see just how long it takes to shut the people up and then go about their business. This is pretty much the way religion has been carried on on the SOuthern shore of the Med since Roman times.

  42. There is no easy answer for this. However we need to identify the problem at its root: extremist wahabbi Islam imported from Saudi Arabia a few decades ago. Unfortunately a decent number of egyptian Muslims share the terrorists' hatred toward those who don't share their religion. This is why attacks against Copts continue to go unpunished by local residents and government officials. Without a true reformation of Islamic beliefs the extremists will continue to recruit willing militants to kill the "infidels". The poor, forgotten residents of non-Islamic nations do not become terrorists and kill religious minorities. Poverty and joblessness are problems throughout the world. Terrorism is a problem with special distinction in Islam.

  43. The bedeuins as allies, i’m not so sure. They have been suspicious of Cairo regardless of who is at the helm. The Bedeuins have also been involved in criminal activities: kidnappiing refugees, demanding ransom up to $40,000 per head, raping, killing and torturing refugees. If all else fails they operate on them to harvest organs. Successive Egyptian governments have been unable to project their power in Sinai, ever since the territory was reinstated into Egypt in 1982. IS is not the only problem in Sinai. The lawlessness is endemic. Economic neglect is part of the story but i’m Afraid the issue is much more complex and has proven intractable. But I agree bombing is not going to bring solution here or througout North Africa, with Boko Haram or with Al-Shabab. Maybe this tragedy will bring some attention to the plight of refugee slaves languishing in Sinai.

  44. This can be carried out only when certain groups are dehumanized and their lives and suffering no longer matters to the attackers. America is headed that direction with Trump's admonition to his followers to act, like punching and rouging up demonstrators and "...I will pay your legal bill"!

  45. Sadly, this is part of Islam's history and culture after they've let their miscreants fester for 1400 years. I'm thankful to live in a society that chases down, arrests, and incarcerates killers. Although on a much larger scale, this reminds me of when ISIS burned a Jordanian pilot - the Jordan king made threats, but little came of it. It's unlikely that Sunni nations will ever wipe out Sunni terrorists, though they'll go after Shiite Iran and Houthis in Yemen.

  46. Not sure I agree with the author’s conclusion. President Assad’s brutality seems to have paid off against the militants in Syria. Perhaps success depends on the intelligent application of brutality, sad to say.

  47. I was struck by the coverage of an outraged local correspondent for a well-known non-American international news organization. Paraphrasing, but closely: "In the past, the militants attacked police and military targets and Christian churches, but now they attacked inside a mosque for the first time, killing Muslims as they prayed."

  48. It’s about time the NYT upped its game on terrorism journalism. This article articulates ill-informed, muddled thinking. The world is full of grievances. Terrorism as a response results from the proliferation of ruthless nihilistic ideology. It is increasing in violence and scope due to advances in technology that make it cheaper and easier to cause mass death. It is facilitated by the proliferation of secure internet channels for communication among like minded individuals who support, plan, fund and execute. You cannot invest in factories when terrorists kill the factory workers, as they did recently in a cement factory funded by the government in North Sinai. You cannot achieve economic advancement in the absence of security. There is no carrot-based quick-fix. This struggle with terrorism will last as long as civilization will last. Terrorism will ebb and flow everywhere. Where it flares up, you can reduce its severity by persuading communities that nihilistic ideology behind the destruction is devoid of human and religious logic; by making it costly for tight-knit communities to harbor terrorists and by incentivizing their rejection; by applying logistical pressure, especially on communications, mobility and funding; and finally by liquidating threats and individuals who have been brainwashed. Once security permits, economic opportunities can help maintain peace. That’s the respite we seek in Egypt. It’s hard, but it can work.

  49. The following statement by Ms. Eltahawy appears to be obviously misleading to those who know better, and utterly bewildering to those who don't: "It was the first time that Islamist militants — who have been attacking security forces and Christian churches for years — have gone after Muslim worshipers." Those in the know would instantly realize that Ms. Eltahawy is glossing over the fact that these innocent Sufis were killed by those who do not consider them to be heretics and not real Muslims. And those not in the know would be left confused about possible motive for this attack. I cannot be certain of Ms. Eltahawy's motivation here. Maybe it is a ham fisted attempt to say, "See Muslim on Muslim violence is happening too." We know it is happening Mona but it only proves that this violence has its roots in the religious dogma of the killers not because of US Foreign Policy or Israel's treatment of the Palestinians.

  50. No justice; no peace. Sisi and the Salafis seized power in a military coup with the aid of Saudi Arabia and Israel who were horrified at the fall of Mubarak. Donald Trump and his failed generals (unless you call Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria successes) embrace the old, proven failed tactics of oppression and torture. So they with Saudi and Israel will prop up the nasty regime. The question is will Egypt go the way of Syria?

  51. All those blaming this violence on Sisi's legitimacy, do not know what they are talking about. First, Morsi was installed by a slim margin through the election meddling of Hilary and our state department in the Egyptian Presidential election. Second, there are many types of Democracy and one size does not fit all. Certainly, US Styple elections do not work in Egypt. (Note that the rest of the world laughs at our electoral college.). In Egypt there is a tradition of powers of attorneys (POA) dating back to the time when a delegate of Egyptians attempted to negotiate with the British an end to Egyptian occupation, and the British refused to negotiate because they did not have standing. So they collected hundreds of thousands of POAs and negotiated a treaty. Sisi, had over 20 Million powers of attorney urging him to take on Morsi. Third, Sisi is not perfect but without him Egypt would become Libya or Seria, 2 fine examples of our state department handy work.

  52. Do not blame the US State Department for Libya or Syria. There is no Egyptian 'Democracy' of any kind unless you think Saudi is yet another form of Democracy. SiSi is illegitimate and the repression is real, ask the Muslim Brotherhood. The key point you miss is that Morsi was elected? Just as the US buffoon, Trump, was elected. The world is extremely right to laugh at the electoral college. Finally, the violence in Egypt will continue to ramp up because Sisi is using tactics proven to cause chaos and hate; see Syria.

  53. Interesting comment, if true, though it appears highly subjective. And really, ya lost with with the “Hillary” blame throwing.

  54. This tragedy is undoubtedly the worst case of government-related violence in modern Egyptian history since the 2013 mass murder of protesters by el-Sisi's government. ( ) Mona Eltahawy clearly explained the complicated elements that led to this crisis. Her thoughtful, nuanced, practical and positive approach is a blessing. While I do not claim to speak for the American government (his nasty ignorant tweets speak volumes); on behalf of the American people, we stand united with the Egyptian people in this time of tragedy.

  55. We all need to remember that the leading victims of Islamic terrorism are Muslims, by a huge margin. It is sad to read the comments to this article and find zero condolences to the families and friends of the innocent victims who lost their lives in this massacre. I am not a Muslim, but my heart goes out to the families and friends of the murdered, who were only trying to practice their religion at their local place of worship.

  56. At some point people have to question just what is the root cause of barbaric behavior on the part of religious fanatics. Those who claim that economic conditions drive people to terrorism conveniently forget that the core of Al Qaeda came from Saudi Arabia where the theocratic state has very high per capita income. True, the source of that income is state handouts from its oil reserves. Nonetheless, its not the lack of jobs or economic opportunity that paves the way for terrorist wannabes to become terrorists. The reality of Islamic terrorism is that it is fueled by cradle to grave indoctrination of people by agents of theocracies. Clerics are those agents and they are funded, encouraged, supported and defended by the theocratic tribal leaders. The fount of Islamic terrorism is Wahhabism and its offshoots. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are the biggest sponsors of Islamic theocracy and terrorism is integral to their domestic and foreign policy. Ironically, Iran's theocracy while long on bluster and every bit as kleptocratic as Russia or any drug lord domain, has been relatively quiet on the terrorist front. The reality is that neither diplomacy nor economics (benign or bribes) will defeat culture or ideology, especially when the ideologues control the police and propaganda of the state. So long as the theocrats who prosper because of the status quo remain in power, terrorism will persist.

  57. You forget that Iran funds, supports and directs Hezbollah, which is a terrorist organization.

  58. Several years back I served as an observer in the Multinational Force. Bedouins we encountered frequently stated: life under Israeli occupation was much better than Egyptian rule; the development of Red Sea resorts began as an unjust land grab; the Egyptian Army is an occupation force. The present conditions in the Sinai are the same found in every failed state - corruption, extremely limited opportunity, young men with guns. Labeling violent events in the Sinai as “ISIS inspired” is inaccurate and incomplete.

  59. Zionist inspired? Papist inspired? Evangelical inspired? Capitalist inspired?

  60. Excellent article Ms Eltahawy: why should anyone be surprised, Sisi is merely continuing the program off our guy Mubarak, I do disagree however that Morsi should be included with these other American/Israeli puppets: if for no other reason Egypt’s first elected President was not allowed enough time to do anything: as soon as the powers that be in the region decided he and his followers must go they went: murdered, detention and tortured. I am in complete agreement there should be a rejuvenation of the areas of which you speak and considering the billions Mubarak and his cronies stole from the country, were that repatriated I doubt money would be an issue. We were a witness to some of the extraordinary wealth of some Egyptiansin Portland as during the Arab Spring the children of Egypts elite were residing in Portlands luxury towers along with their Ferraris and Range Rovers. Quite a sight seeing these young men hotrodding around town ignoring rules that would apply to us mortals due to their diplomatic status. I had the displeasure of meeting one of these arrogant men as he was aided in moving an enormous gilt mirror out of a luxury apartment after “ the action was over” in his homeland, good riddance. While on the subject though, Miss Eltahawy, perhaps you could dash off a missive to our elected officials: Chicago and Baltimore could use a little rebuilding and perhaps some jobs, six hundred murders this year doesn’t speak well for our ignored citizens in Chicago.Thank you!

  61. I hear Morsi's people couldn't balance a budget. Less time in religious school learning religious texts by heart and a little more time learning Excel spreadsheets and basic economy rules might have extended his rule... just saying.

  62. Morsi belongs in a category of his own: He was not democratically elected as there were election abuses throughout the country indicating his election was rigged. During his tenure, Egypt's Coptic Christians were murdered and their churches burned by his Muslim Brotherhood brethren with his govt giving a wink and a nod. He allowed the free flow of Iranian weapons and bombs through tunnels into Gaza which Hamas rained down on Israeli civilians on a daily basis. The Egyptian economy had high unemployment and inflation, and he was trying to illegally implement Sharia law against the Egyptian constitution . The Egyptian people were celebrating his removal. I guess it's better to be an Iranian puppet!

  63. Jonny: Speaking of , hows your boy Macron doing in the polls now that the voting public knows everything he said was a lie. An excellent example of someone groomed for the position by powers that wish to manipulate the Presidency and found the right fall guy, kind off a French version of George (The Shrub) Bush. Spread sheets are for wonks not leaders, to qualify for that position you need to have actually spent some time among those you purport to represent, not at private clubs yucking it up with the “King Makers”.

  64. A Sufi mosque was targeted for mass murder but, according to this article, the attack was the result of the failure of the Egyptian government to address the economic needs of the people of the Sanai region. Seems like a stretch to me.

  65. The insurgency has been going on for four years, and no one claims the Egyptian security forces have not pulling out all the stops (mass arrest, collective punishment) to fight it. Still 1000 security have been killed and rather than the situation getting better, over 200 civilians were just killed in an operation where the killers were able to bring in something like a couple dozen killers with several vehicles. Something isn't working!

  66. The theoretical explanation behind the terrible terroristic attack on the armless defenseless worshipers is the lack of faith. The faith is the belief in the God Commandments and Rules. Both the perpetrators and the victims allegedly believed in the same Book, the Quran. Where did the hatred toward the unsuspected locals come from? The killers weren’t the faithful people. They fully ignored God’s words and acted upon the instructions of their delusional clergy that focused solely on the ancient books written by many humans that introduced the number of useless and irrelevant customs, habits and dogmas. Those rituals divided them into the many varieties of the sects, groups, clans and tribes. Instead of focusing on what they had in common, the killers obsessed over what made them different from the victims. That’s exclusively the fault of the clergy that brainwashed the terrorists into believing that the key principles of the faith were irrelevant and that the miniscule nuisances were crucial. If you truly want to destroy the terrorism, don’t chase the Al Qaeda and the ISIS. They are the victims too. Target and reform the clergy that doesn’t understand the faith and foolishly worships the ancient Arab cultural dogmas from the Old Age…

  67. Faith is not the same as kindness. ISIS believe the Sufi are "Murtadd" who have violated God's law ("God’s words") and must be killed. The rationale usually giving for their murder is that by calling themselves Muslims but also visiting tombs of Sufi saints (and other alleged violations) they have become "traitors to Islam". It's far from just the conservative clergy who believe this!

  68. Hugh. the clergy is the key. It spreads the wrong ideology. The bad clergy is as dangerous as the bad teachers, You have to beat down the clergy in the public debate to eradicate the ideological source of the terrorism. The faith is much more than kindness. It is a system of values. The faith consists only of the Book. Visiting the tombs, the clergy or the mosques is completely irrelevant because none of them is prescribed by the Almighty. It means either both the Sufis and the Wahhabis are equally wrong for going to the mosques or both actions are irrelevant to the pure faith. There is no substantial difference between the Wahhabis and the Sunnis. There is no clergy, no mosques and no saints in the true faith...

  69. Hugh, Per the Quran the humans have no right to determine who the believers are so the Wahabbis have no right to make any such a decision regarding the Sufis. If they killed the latter as the unbelievers, the terrorists have permanently denounced the faith in the Almighty. That's what the governments should be targeting - their system of values, not their bodies...

  70. This idea that a kinder, gentler government will reduce the incidence of terrorism is disproven regularly with attacks on innocent people all over the world. There is no justification or excuse for the attack and murder of these Sufi worshipers. They did nothing except belong to a minority religious group that doesn't fit into the warped world view of the cowards who planned their death.

  71. I don't think she's suggesting ISIS will respond to kindness, just that the localswho know where and how ISIS is hiding, training, planning in the Sinai, (but who rightly scared of informing on them) may well respond.

  72. Kinder and gentler does not work if the opposition thinks you can't go into the next mode - brutal and medieval. That's all these guys understand. Do both in parallel but be smart- figure out what the ordinary Egyptian really wants and give it to them and then take it away when they get cowardly with the extremists...

  73. It's always a bunch of guys with weapons. Literally. Not a bunch of women and children with books and toys. Guys with guns. Bombs. Swords. Knock it off, guys. Please evolve. We don't live in caves anymore. And please don't point out the one in a thousand cases of the woman who participated, usually with her husband whom she has been conditioned by her society to follow. It's statistically irrelevant.

  74. The absence of a sufficiently robust rule of law makes it difficult to deal with the insurgency in Egypt. In any case it is not the insurgency in Sinai that is important, rather it is the insurgency of the army that is eating away at the core of the country.

  75. Mohammed Morsi injected into an plural & relatively secular Egyptian nation,divisions between the nation's co religionist & a spiteful HATE. Venom spewed forth from his mouth.Poisonous Venom. The Venom has spread all over Egypt & divided the mind of a great nation. The once docile Muslim Brotherhood reared its head with the assumption in office of Morsi. The effect of his polarising behaviour is reflected by the extreme hate as seen in today's horrific killings. Egypt was never this type,it is the cradle of civilisation & the Egyptians Masses always lived an harmonious life with his co religionists,not any more. Sinai faction is a appendage of Muslim Brotherhood. President Sisi is a healer & needs now more than ever the full support of the world in dealing with this menace.

  76. 'President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, like his most recent predecessors Mohamed Morsi and Hosni Mubarak, rarely mention the Sinai Peninsula, other than to celebrate its liberation from Israeli occupation in 1982.' Thd irony here is that in 2017 the Bedouin tribes of the Sinai Peninsula would be better off if they were still under Israeli occupation. Let him rule who rules best.

  77. Don't know much about the Sinai Peninsula but I am pretty sure the Israelis could manage that place like gang busters and make it super productive. They are super good at making things live and thrive in the desert...

  78. There’s something that I don’t understand (I’m not a professional on this topic so no surprise there) about this topic. Why would ISIS attack Muslims ? I thought that their goal was to retaliate to the country’s and cultures that had wronged them in the past. If any one has some insight to this I would be immensely appreciative if you informed me

  79. Hi Kye, I would like to address your question. In short, ISIS is specifically a Sunni Muslim operation. The attack was on a Sufi mosque, meaning a different sect of Islam. Extremist Sunnis don't consider either Sufis or Shiites (a different sect of Islam) to be even the same basic faith as them. I wish there were a good analogy for this dynamic. The closest, which is imperfect, would be how the Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland fought. I hope that helps. Thanks for writing.

  80. NM, for the Christian analogy think Thirty Years War, Catholics vs. Lutherans vs. Calvinists. It was not pretty. But many historians feel that it did eventually lead to the Enlightenment. In the case of Islam, one can only hope.

  81. ... Kye-simple: because Muslims can't agree on how to interpret the same century old text. Someone needs to step up and spell it out for them or everyone will have a different view of the prophet's teachings. I'm sick and tiered of hearing about this religion that is being transformed into a freak show. Can someone PLEEEASE step up and reform it!!!

  82. These problems go back to the mistake made when Israel handed the Sinai back to Egypt. If the Sinai had remained under Israeli control, it by now would be developed and prospering. Instead, under Arab rule, it has become a Petrie dish for the incubation of Islamic Jihad.

  83. True. I have rarely seen a people as efficient as the Israelis. They combine religion and everyday life seemlessly... why can't Arabs be more like them??

  84. this likely would not have happened had Israel not returned the liberated Sinai to the Egyptians.

  85. Egypt is an iconic cradle of human civilization. From the unification of the Two Lands aka Upper and Lower Egypt aka Kemet aka the Black Land by the Old Kingdom Pharaoh Narmer to the conquest of the Hyksos and the Macedonians is 3200 years of history. The Romans followed the Macedonians followed by many other empires ending with the British. Egypt is the most populous Arab nation. Both the lead 9/11/01 hijacker Mohammad Atta and the current head of al Qaeda Ayman al-Zawahiri are Egyptians from socioeconomically privileged well educated backgrounds. Ayman is an MD. Atta was an architect and engineer. Hassan al- Banna the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood was an Egyptian. The modern intellectual light of the Muslim Brotherhood Sayyid Qutb was also Egyptian. From Gamal Nasser to Anwar Sadat to Hosni Mubarak to Abdel Fattah el-Sisi Egypt has been ruled by military dictators. Their autocratic misrule had the Muslim Brotherhood devolve into al Qaeda then ISIS and who knows what is next. The Soviet Union replaced imperial British rule over Egypt by socioeconomic military alliances followed by America. America arms and gives diplomatic cover for military dictators in Egypt. America does likewise for the royal fossil fuel theocratic autocrats in Saudi Arabia and Zionist Jewish supremacist Israeli Empire. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi crushed the Arab Spring in a military against the 1st democratically elected leader in Egyptian history Mohammad Morsi. The whirlwind is coming.

  86. Mona, I respect you immensely. After your arm was broken during the Egyptian Uprising and you wrote in Foreign Policy a utmost revealing article about the hatred of men towards women around which pivots much of Islamic frustrations and backwardness, I quote you: “SO WHAT IS TO BE DONE? First we stop pretending. Call out the hate for what it is. Resist cultural relativism and know that even in countries undergoing revolutions and uprisings, women will remain the cheapest bargaining chips. You—the outside world—will be told that it’s our ‘culture’ and ‘religion’ to do X, Y, or Z to women. Understand that whoever deemed it as such was never a woman. The Arab uprisings may have been sparked by an Arab man—Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire in desperation—but they will be finished by Arab women.” Keep writing and exposing the grim truth as you can do best. Thank you!

  87. This is the solution to the problem and why carnage happened. The key structural deficiency of the Islam is that is essentially a polytheist system of belief. This could be proven easily. The Islam consists of two parts – the Koran and the Hadiths. According to the Muslims, the first part came from the Almighty. The second part is the alleged practice of Prophet Mohammed. Under those conditions it’s obvious that the Islam is theoretically defined by two deities – God and a man, Allah and the Prophet… Putting a human at the same level with God created a dual deity system, the very bases of the polytheism. The Western world doesn’t know that this faulty system was established many decades after the death of Prophet Mohammed, thus without His authorization or supervision. Actually, Prophet Mohamed specifically prohibited the followers from idolizing Him personally, including both His physical appearance and physical deeds. Unfortunately, the Arab tribes revered only the first part while indulging with the second, equally banned, imitations. All the distortions and anachronism within the Islam are stemming from this second part – the Hadiths. That transformed the true faith into a polytheistic religion. How come that the Arabs haven’t recognized this obvious malpractice over the last 14 centuries? How come that the western world failed to point at this fault and help them out? Was it intentional or ignorant?

  88. In 1952, the military wing of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) deposed the King, and installed the political system presently in place. The system supports the objectives of the MB, provided the MB does not challenge the military, and generations of Egyptians have been indoctrinated, through school curricula, with MB theology. The objectives of the MB were largely accomplished. First, they ethnically cleansed Jews. Second, they confiscated the property of foreigners (especially Greeks), so they left on mass. Third, they outlawed the Bahaii religion and put its followers in Jail. Next, they began attacking Coptic Christians at remote provinces. Now the Copts do not have a place to go like the Jews and are not wealthy enough to leave like the Europeans. So they took the war to Cairo, attacking middle-class Copts. Simultaneously they moved against Sufi and Shiite Muslims. At every stage, ordinary Egyptians acquiesced because they were not Jews/Greek/Bahaii/Coptic/Shiite. Nothing will change until ordinary Egyptians understand that the MB ideology is Evil and that they are next.

  89. Absolutely right. Until the moderates (ordinary Egyptians) wake up and stop being afraid of their fellow more extreme muslims nothing will change. However it starts with placing the rights of people above faith. You can't run a country or an economy with people praying 3-5 times a day and competing over who is the most devout. STUPID.

  90. Merely being a strongman tyrant won't deter ISIS. el-Sisi, who behind his fatigues is certainly a Sissy, needs to realize this for his sake, and history's sake. This was an attack on a brand of Islam they hated, yes, but also a feeler attack for when they decide to send some cars and bombs for their real would-be grand prize: the fabulous(ly blasphemous, to them) idols of the Pyramids. That will make Palmyra seem like a bottle of Palmolive by comparison.

  91. SR.. Sisiis a sissy?? you gotta be kidding me. The guy took out Morsi from the Muslim brotherhood whose henchmen could not balancer a budget and keeps Egypt in the modern world. Egypt could be blasted into the 5th Century if the extremists had their way andf say and that would mean no more tourism and freedom. No, he's a tough guy whose dealing with a cancer that needs invasive surgery.

  92. Do you really think there can be dialog with the people who send two dozen murderers to wipe out a minority religion while they worship?

  93. Thats not the author’s point at all. In fact, this sort of limited, brutal thinking exascerbatesa bad situation. (That kinda was the point.)

  94. The idea is to stop helping them recruit more disaffected as followers

  95. Same old same old. Tough guy will fix problems, they get worse. The universal truth about terrorism that no one will admit is it is simply push back from losers in a winner take all system. Get rid of religion, address inequality but preserve innovation, that's the solution. Start with education and honesty in the press. It's too much he said she said and too polite to nonsense like religion and idiots like Trump. And get money out of politics.

  96. Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld blew a hole in the Middle East for no good reason, turning a local catastrophe (Hussein) into a global one. Why Dick&Don walk free is a question that any true democracy should ask itself.

  97. I agree that the reason that the US went into Iraq was based on wrong intel about the weapons of mass destruction. VERY SAD; BUT I'm so happy the guy and his family are dead... Saddam gave new meaning to the term sociopath.

  98. Cheney and Rumseld are causing attacks on Mosques (!), by Islamists (!)? You have to use some twisted partisan logic to get there.

  99. It has been now unprovoked some six decades ago, after 1967, that the Judeo Christian alliance has declared war on Islam, under the guise of War on Terror hoping to eradicate it but achieving the very opposite ALL types of covert and overt war means have been used including the ridiculous charge against Iraq being, under the secular Baath and Saddam, pro Islamist terror to justify the criminal conquest and destruction of Iraq through a WESTERN, Judeo Christian supported alliance , outright war of destruction and de institutionalization, What followed both was the growth in variety and quantity of so called Islamist movements . The said alliance led by the USA and Israel, insisted on pursuing their war on Islam despite the blatant failure of their war failing to realize that its only outgrowth has been the enhanced status of Islam and the proliferation of so called Islamist movements thus achieving the very opposite of what they set up to achieve

  100. If the people correctly understood the faith there would be no Muslims, no Christians and no Jews. The true faith unites the people. Where are the differences coming from? The ancient tribes mixed the local cultures with the faith to turn them into the different religions. It's the cultural differences that separate three monotheistic religions. The official way of communicating with God was the language of the locals - the Hebrew, the Latin and the Arabic. The "faithful" names are the personal names of the ancient tribes. The main differences between three monotheistic religions are not related to the faith but to the ancient human cultures, dogmas, customs and habits... The ancient tribes turned themselves and their behavior into the divine requirements...

  101. Are you even reading the news, let alone this article? This was an attack on a MOSQUE. Don't you get it? There is war being conducted by radical Islam against ANYONE who is not an Islamic purist. Maybe it is comforting for you to imagine that the West is being punished for what you consider to be its crimes (of existence? of self-defense?), but that is not what it is happening. This is a war for the triumph of the Caliphate - against anyone who stands in its way.

  102. "The Judeo Christian Alliance declared war on Islam". That an easy answer. Who attacked whom in 67?. Tic Tock....Wow, you sure know your history. What role might Political Islam have in all this? Fundamentalism? The War being waged right now has its roots in the War within Islam and modernity as much as Islamists percieve others at war with "Islam"?. What would Mohammed think today if he lived in our moden world? Would he be a monotheist? We all need to come to a more inclusive and peaceful understanding.

  103. Discontent is simmering all over the Muslim world. Populations is multiplying due to polygamy and lack of education, woman in particular. Almost all countries are ruled by autocrats. Mullahs, militants and orthodoxy is fighting modernism every step of the way. In some countries like Saudi Arabia, the rulers are trying to bring some reforms by taking absolute control of the governing. In Egypt such control is not possible due to many diverse interests, vast population and lack of resources. There is no perfect way to bring modernism to these countries. Until and unless the ruling class agree to give up their power structure and Mullahs agree to respect plurality in their societies, there will be many upheavals in Muslim world in coming years.

  104. The U.S. provides Egypt with over $1.4B in aid every year. A bill should be introduced which requires that aid to be withheld unless the humanitarian principles outlined in this article are followed in an official outreach program whose activities are piblicly and transparently reviewable.

  105. Why do you care that they get modernism. Now birth control is essential, otherwise they can have whatever political structure they want or will tolerate, that is not any of our concern unless they bother us.

  106. The supposedly educated US doesn’t get the law of diminution at the margin either. The more of anything there is, the less each unit of it is worth.

  107. Our bloated military budget, support for dictators and the hapless war on terrorism has brought the U.S. to be seen as the arbiter of disagreements among Muslim sects that have no corollary in our secular society. Until we are attacked and a proper declaration of war is proclaimed, our role and that of other nations affected by terrorism should be changed to a stringent policing and prosecutorial model. Our troops should never again be put in harms way to satisfy the demands of Realpolitik. We saw how horrifically that played out in Vietnam and now Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and other places I have left out or am only vaguely aware of. My capacity for grief is at a low ebb, as I am sure many others' are. I appreciate Mona's idealism and suggestions for social and economic solutions but with corrupt regimes any aid supplied to correct disparity goes into sinkholes of waste and kleptocracy. This is money better spent at home rectifying our own injustices. With our State Dept. being dismantled and global cooperation at a standstill, I believe the best we can do is protect ourselves and our longstanding allies while the whirlwind of Muslim sectarianism plays out and hopefully subsides. I no longer fear a security state and certain losses of freedom as I believe these would be temporary. The alternative that has played out, random, horrific bloodshed and the death of innocents is not the kind of world I want my grandchildren to have to witness.

  108. Justice, compassion and honesty are needed--and yet are in short supply.

  109. Once freedoms are lost in the name of security they are gone forever.

  110. Justice??? My idea of justice is to follow the rule of law, who knows what that is over there? Compassion? Absolutely no compassion for terrorists or those that either support or tolerate them. Honesty?? Sure the president was honest on what needs to be done and who needs to do it. Who is not generally the US.

  111. 10 million in 1900. 35 million in Egypt in 1970. 100 million today despite massive outmigration to the west. The Nile is not getting any bigger. If only they could control their population so these masses of young men could have a life. No wonder they all want to go to Germany.....and those that cant become radical.

  112. The first flowering of civilization in Egypt was destroyed by overpopulation and the Nile drying up. Soon the Nile will run dry from upstream diversion to water a new Chinese breadbasket.

  113. Follow the money. My bet is that all roads lead to the Koch brothers and friends. They want to create chaos around the world, keep people in fear, make average people feel helpless and hopeless and take it over. What better way than to fund supposed "terrorist" organizations? What better way for people to get over fear than turn to "religion" then fight about which is best. It's the Take-Over-The-World 101 playbook used by the catholic church during the "christian crusades" and Hitler. The difference is that WE THE PEOPLE can and will stop their attempts to destroy the world with OUR votes, consumer boycotts, general worker strikes, protests and calling, writing, e-mailing, tweeting and putting pressure on OUR lawmakers to force them to save social/economic justice in The United States of America and around the world. NOW is the time!

  114. Njglea, C'mon. This well-researched article deserves serious, fact-based commentary. Paranoid delusions about the Koch brothers--who are as much to blame as unicorns--are not the way to go.

  115. The North Sinai mosque carnage that claimed more than 300 lives though unpardonable and invites strong action against the perpetrators, yet also highlights a serious governance deficit and complete neglect of the development needs of the population in general and the people inhabiting the Sinai peninsula in particular, which makes this region vulnerable to radical influence and a launching pad to undertake terror attacks against the innocents.

  116. Egypt will not contain its population growth before it destroys itself.

  117. Mona, yes it is the fault of the various dictators who ruled Egypt since the days of Gamal Nasser; but please look at who and how this carnage takes place. It is being claimed by the ISIS off shoot the one who profess to have the only correct interpretation of Islam. These are the followers of the Saudi Ideology/interpretation that M.B.S. and his reformer cult follows. The Saudis have propagated this hateful ideology throughout the world including right here in the US through the Madrassahs they fund. The same Saudis who were responsible for our 9-11. The same Saudis that Tom Friedman tells us are reforming (for 70 years). The same Saudis who are the cause of the largest genocide happening in Yemen. President Sisi (I'm no fan of him) took a stand against the Saudis in joining bombing of Yemen and then not joining M.B.S.'s anti Iran rant. BTW ISIS has never attacked any Israeli or Saudi interest anywhere in the world; just wondering. ISIS has predominately attacked and killed Muslims, whether in Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, Somalia, Afghanistan, or Pakistan. Blaming just Sisi for this attack on a mosque in Sinai is being short sighted, try to look at the big picture. As much as I would like to see this evil eradicated, pruning branches is not the answer. The snake's head must be crushed and that is Saudi Arabia.

  118. Absolutely not, to even consider that shows a lack of understanding at all.

  119. Please elaborate Do you know Saudi/Egyptian history?

  120. MONA ELTAHAWY Writes more from the perspective of a person seeking to solve problems by pursuing justice. Bernard Lewis, Professor Emeritus of Princeton, wrote that the central organizing principle of Muslim culture is honor, while the central organizing principle of Jude-Christian culture is justice. While justice can be measured objectively, honor cannot. Until the parties to the conflict in Egypt's Sinai or anywhere else, for that matter, adopt her viewpoint of logic, fairness and justice, things will remain as they are. Namely, waiting for the next terrorist attack, waiting for the next bombing at a mosque, market or village. The next car bomb. The next rocket attack. The next terrorist detonating a wired vest full of explosives. When pursuing honor, there is always a sense of injustice that can never be resolved. The reason is because the religious figure's writings, sayings or "words" dictate how people must think and how they must act. For a problem to be solved by pursuing justice, the parties to the conflict must believe that they can live with the resolution and that the resolution is both safe and fair. In pursuing justice, there is an acceptance of the imperfection of human endeavors. They involve flexible problem solving where imperfect outcomes are just. Just imperfect. By contrast, the religious strictures regarding honor are absolute, authoritarian, idealized and perfectionistic. They involved polarized thinking--that things are all good or all bad.

  121. @John Smith: Nice to read that insight of Bernard Lewis cited by Mr. Smith regarding distinction between Judeo-Christian concept of justice compared to the notion of honor emphasized in the Arab world. Read Professor Lewis's works while a contractor in S.A. generations ago, often on the terrace of my apartment in Jiddah while reclining on my Yemeni bed: Too hot to remain inside. But author does not answer fundamental question in her otherwise well written piece, which is what is at stake in the Sinai Peninsula that is worth the lives of thousands of police officers and their Islamic militant enemies?Oil and other natural resources? Government's fear that if the Sinai secedes, its action will set in motion secessions elsewhere?We know why, for example, central government in Leopoldville, aided by UN "casques bleues," set out to end the secession of Katanga in 1961, since breakaway province was and is source of more copper than any other region in the world, and whose wealth was essential to the viability of the central government, but what riches lie in the Sinai that appears worth the expenditure of so many lives on both sides? Author does not inform us.

  122. Well said. A quick survey of literature seems to support the honor filter by which society remains "human" in its inhumanity. The Iliad is replete with this metric for behavior and to your point, I don't think we have, and maybe never will, escape the gravitational pull of honor as our motivator and transcend it into a more rational "justice" framework. Our poor attempts to eviscerate emotional responses in resolving problems are tenuous indeed, rooted in the rule of law and dispassionate structures to assure fairness and justice in the face of our all too human survival instincts. Not sure how to purge our instincts, religions have tried, rational thinking of humanism and science have tried, but honor, begetting respect, begetting perceived strength = survival in societies from time immemorial. Dukakis famously waffled in his response to a hypothetical reaction to his mother attacked, displaying a weakness in character perceived and rejected. His response was to appeal to justice, the electorate wanted honor.

  123. It is all a silly charade of projecting human nature onto the mindlessness of nature itself.

  124. Egypt is choking on the desertification of their tourist trade. They are a nation unemployed. Trapped by that service industry in this monolithic economy. There is no safety net, no mechanism to ameliorate the listless hopeless bottom rung of the country, by far is their largest component. A narrow elite, "protected" by an all-powerful, yet impotent military class. The set-piece of Egypt has not changed. As an Egyptian ex-patriot shared, these (Nasser, Sadat, Mubarak, Morsi and Sisi) are the first indigenous rulers since before Alexander the Great. How can we expect the Egyptian government to be any incarnation of an enlightened Western democracy. Yet, the winner-take-all mentality of the military, over any opposition or any dissenting voice, dooms the country to endless cycles of violence, insurgence and repression. In this milieu the shared scourge of an opportunist ISIS or al Qaeda will twist the legitimate aspirations of a disenfranchised populace to the simplistic horror of Jihad laying waste to civilization and freedom in the name of Allah. Extremism leaves no safe haven. No one is perfect enough. But if the military murder rape and torture those people, what else can they do?

  125. I learned a new term from a book "KTF" that means kill them first. Now sure they need the assistance of tribes out there. Their previous focus on arresting, torture, etc. was not effective, so just KTF.

  126. And with the US currently eviscerating its State Dept, there will be little help for Egypt, unless it involves us selling more munitions. The reality is,the US should have been more focused on fixing the underlying ills that fuels Islamist extremism (esp. since 9-11) but instead spent nearly two decades waging more and more war. If we spent 1/4 of those monies on real hard-core diplomatic efforts on the can only wonder.... There were, are still, any number of "diplomatic" moves the US and the West could have done (remove western troops from Saudi Arabia) in order to, at the very least, reconcile the "sins" we were allegedly committing, so to undermine and gut the excuses given for the Jihad against us. But we reverted to the same old songs and dances. Wage War! Kill them, use body counts to measure success. Use new technologies without evaluation as to the broader effects and risks. While waging domestic war on our Diplomatic efforts, which is now being exacerbated by the Trump Admin, and its Buffoon Squad. The same of course could be applied to our domestic issues. Instead of waging wars, on drugs, poverty, etc, we should have been waging reason, logic and proactive solutions on our problems. But that's another story...

  127. The definition of insanity is to repeat the same thing over and expect a different outcome. I grow in Egypt, we never had sectarian violence or issues of Sunnis versus sufis. The current regime has every interest in flaming the fire by brutally acting against insurgents and punish the local population. They have no incentive to quell the violence as they continue to claim that they fight terrorism on behalf of the whole whole world. Since they failed in improving lives of the Egyptians and every other project. It is becoming their reason to exist to fight terrorism.

  128. The issue with Bedouin tribes is that they often play many sides off each other for a profit. Bedouin from the Sinai bombed the Israel-Egypt gas pipeline several years ago, have infiltrated terror cells and provided intelligence to the Egyptian government, colluded with and practiced human, weapons, and drug trafficking between Libya, Egypt, Israel, and Gaza, developed tourist industries in South Sinai that cater to Israeli tourists, etc etc. In other words, the savvy Bedouin follow the money in order to maintain their lifestyle. Egypt could build a university in ElArish that attracts upward thinking Egyptians from the mainland. They could cooperate with Israel to develop a stronger economic zone along the border that employs the local Bedouin. They could develop tourist zones on the Mediterranean coast, and factories in the same area. Egypt could develop infrastructure projects that bring more mainland Egyptians to the Sinai and of course they could open up to Gaza and allow Gazans to participate in all of this as well. Unfortunately, as Eltahawy pointed out, Sisi only seems interested in military "solutions," which only seem to lead to further military "solutions." It seems that the Sisi government is happy to keep its focus on the mainland while letting the Sinai remain restive and lawless.

  129. Most Egyptians are traditionalists. Bad governance, corruption and authoritarianism are Egyptian traditions. Egyptians must deplore the massacre in the Sinai but most of them are probably happy with Mr. Sisi. After all. he's observing those traditions.

  130. Military dictatorship always loose because the government has no touch with the people. The barrel of gun can not be source of power in modern world. Democracy may not be perfect but no other system is better than democracy. The country should belong to people. Military dictator Sisi has no support from the citizens and he is in a bubble. Trump supports all the macho dictator including Sisi but that is not enough to rule Egypt. He should learn from the history. All the dictators place in dustbin. Only solution is to call for a fair election.

  131. Eltahawy's ending is true. Military teaches people discipline, routine, and reliability—but also fosters stupidity and lack of creativity! Military folks do things without thinking—so does Al Sisi. But how did he succeed in coming to office via a coup? The answer is simple: it is ignorance. Unfortunately, most of the current populations are ignorant and they are led and driven by the State-TV Shows, which dictate them what to think and how to live. If the majority of population was educated and well-cultured, Sisi’s coup would never pass. The only solution is in people’s hand: stop watching TV and start reading and educating your kids. In ten or fifteen years, you will not be fooled again.

  132. Who are these Sinai ISIS people. If they are Egyptians then obviously we have an internal war identical to what is going on in Afghanistan for almost 20 years now - don't be surprised if the US will send their advisors to Cairo before New Years.

  133. It is a very sad day for the entire humanity to have this kind of the journalism and the editorial policy. What insurgency? The insurgency is waged against the government and the military, not against the innocent defenseless neighbors and civilians. Our world is falling apart along all the seams. Everybody is failing us – our elected officials, our politicians, our journalists, our intellectual, our academics, and our clergy. The worst war criminals from the WWII and the latest conflicts are being officially reinstated, celebrated and idolized. The governments have been waging the senseless foreign wars for decades and centuries. The clergy is publically praying for those directly responsible for the deaths of thousands innocent civilians and neighbors. The governments are stealing the money from the rest of globe and the future generations. The intellectuals are celebrating the current course as the historic accomplishment and progress. The problem is that every bubble and human stupidity unavoidably burst, sooner or later, and we are publicly proven wrong and foolish. The day of reckoning is in front of us, have no doubt about it!

  134. The victims of recent terror attacks have been happy people engaged in public activities, and the attackers ad hoc operators not controlled by any government.

  135. Who is crazier here, the terrorists or the White House? That is really tough question! The terrorists killed more than 300 peaceful villagers attending the mosque prayers because the victims were allegedly the unbelievers. The key accusation was that the victims weren’t the true believers. Who is solely in charge of determining who the believers are? Only the Almighty! The conclusion is that the terrorists blamed the victims as the unbelievers because the former preferred to act as the Almighty thus being guilty of the worst kind of blasphemy. After the 9/11/2001 terrorist attacks committed by the extremely small group of the Wahabi Sunni Arabs, the White House blamed Afghanistan, a non-Arab country, for the existence of the terrorist organization. Where did the terrorists come from? They were from the alleged regional American allies - the Saudi Arabia and Egypt - that were a cradle of the radical Wahabi ideology and provided all the necessary logistics for the terrorist attacks – the leaders, the members and the financiers. Afterwards our government blamed Iraq, a semi-socialist country with the best regional treatment of the women and religious minorities at that moment, thus diametrically opposite to the radical Wahabi ideology, for being another patron of the terrorist movement… Isn't it tragic that the analytical abilities of our government are no better than the terrorist ones? Don't they understand relationship between a cause and a consequence?

  136. "Instead, he needs to seriously commit to antidotes to terrorism: jobs, dignity and a life worth living." Nonsense. The writer is writing for her secular Western readers, in an attempt to make "sense" of the Egyptian Islamist violence, and she offers the solution most attuned to Western ears, "jobs, dignity, blah, blah, blah." The reality is that many Islamists, in Egypt and throughout the Arab world, hail from solid middle-class backgrounds, including the last deposed Egyptian President, Morsi. What is left unsaid is that Egypt, like the rest of the Arab and Muslim world, is in the throes of a long-running battle between Islamic fascism v. nationalism v. Shi'a v. Sunni v. civil society, v. the rule of Islam. What Egypt really needs is a government determined to make peace, a real peace, with other democracies throughout the region, and to establish institutions which will be immune from Islamic fascism in all its guises. Missing from this article is any mention of the "cold peace" with Israel, and its courageous architect," Anwar Al Sadat, murdered by Islamic fascists nearly 40 years ago. Sadat made it possible for this Israeli to visit an ancestral home in Alexandria, and to speak Arabic with every day Egyptians, although a government "minder' was never far away. I sure do miss him. I only wish the author of this piece did as well.

  137. I have read this type of thinking a lot over the last few years. We will make everyone nice if we just hand out sugar cubes. It doesn't matter how murderous, and brutal they are. Suddenly Sugar Plum fairies will appear dancing and we will all live in the Land of Sweetness. But we can look to the past to see how that works out. In September 1938, the Munich Agreement was signed to appease Hitler. That was almost immediately followed by 80 million lives lost in war. How about North Korea? We took them off the terrorist list and offered to help them with food and other needs. Today they have nuclear and hydrogen bobs and the missiles to carry them. That even scares their pals the Chinese. Groups like ISIS aren't looking for sugar. Those killed in the attacks by similar militants are not just statistics quoted in an op-ed to imply its not the militants brutality that caused the deaths. Appeasement didn't work with Hitler. It didn't work with Kim Jong-un or his father. You would have to have something laced in your own sugar cube to really believe these militant groups just want to be friends

  138. How do you stop a car engine? You shut off a gas supply. You don’t bomb a car to accomplish this simple objective. How do you stop the terrorism? You don’t bomb it. You shut off the energy source. What is the energy source behind the terrorism? Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya? Not really, not at all! The key energy supply behind the rise and spread of the terrorism is the faith. You embrace the faith and deprive the terrorists from the fuel. To be faithful we have to understand it better than anybody in this world, including the pope, the ayatollahs, the muftis, the sheiks, the patriarchs, the cardinals, the priests and the rabbis… I explained it our media outlets and the government how to do it sixteen years ago, but they ignored the advice. They opted out to bomb the terrorism. One cannot bomb the terrorism into a submission because it’s just an idea. The shrapnel can hurt it. You take the Quran. You read it carefully. You understand and implement it better than your adversaries do. You don’t construe them as your enemies. If you prove to them you understand God better than their terrorist leaders they will trust you, not them. A pen and a soul are stronger than all the swords, airplanes, the missiles and the drones in this world…

  139. Islam, the religion of peace.

  140. Please, let me reiterate the facts. Those terroristic idiots just killed more than 230 defenseless, peaceful, and armless countrymen attending the regular mosque prayer. Is there any similar kind of fools in this world? Yes, tragically and unfortunately, there is an identical bunch of losers. That would be our American government! How do you manage to wage the 16-year long war on terrorism against that kind of loners and spend several trillion dollars in process?! Why has the White House failed to isolate this craziness and madness? It happened because the US Presidents wasted the decades and the piles of money by targeting the terrorist bodies instead of their system of values. If the State Department succeeded in proving their worldviews, concepts and the understanding of faith as wrong, the Muslims would themselves take care and eradicate them, free of charge… When you have two idiotic group of leaders fighting each other nobody is capable of prevailing…

  141. I have read this type of thinking a lot over the last few years. We will make everyone nice if we just hand out sugar cubes. It doesn't matter how murderous, and brutal they are. Suddenly Sugar Plum fairies will appear dancing and we will all live in the Land of Sweetness. But we can look to the past to see how that works out. In September 1938, the Munich Agreement was signed to appease Hitler. That was almost immediately followed by 80 millions lives lost in war. How about North Korea? We took them off the terrorist list and offered to help them with food and other needs. Today they have nuclear and hydrogen bobs and the missiles to carry them that even scare their pals the Chinese. Groups like ISIS aren't looking for sugar. Those killed in the attacks by similar militants are not just statistics quoted in a op-ed to imply its not the militants brutality that caused the deaths. Appeasement didn't work with Hitler, It didn't work with Kim Jong-un or his father. You would have to have something laced in your own sugar cube to really believe these militant groups just want to be friends

  142. "Instead, he needs to seriously commit to antidotes to terrorism: jobs, dignity and a life worth living." Alas I do not think that this will convince ISIS. Not now and not in a decade. And this was ISIS, at least according to The Independent and Reuters.

  143. They're not interested in this life. They want to take a fast track to a fantasy hereafter.

  144. The NYT and American liberals supported Mubarak's toppling Mubarak's dictatorship was broken with a proper vote and the Army has undone it all. The western powers cheer on. Good, honest Muslims were encouraged by the West to strive for enlightened behavior and go to the ballot box. They did. Upon - fair - election, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) won and reacted predictably. al-Sisi was begged by all non-religious segments of society (a minority, but with means), to topple the MB and Morsi. He did. American liberals have not a trace of self-awareness in the carnage they've created by their democratic, and bottom-up power structure, Middle East fantasies. It is fantasy. We witnessed similar fantasies in Libya. Overthrowing Gaddafi was the biggest foreign policy disgrace of my lifetime. Backed by progressive papers like the NYT. And spearheaded - of course - by SOS Clinton (and the CIA) Whether Morsi was an Islamist or a Liberal or indeed an alien from outer space. If you start being choosy with your democracy you will have chaos. Egypt is now a mess because of al-Sisi - a general despot who has been bought by the dollar and has his Saudi Arabian chums to thank for it. There is only one thing more disgusting and dangerous than than Arab and Muslim dictators in the Middle East: its the monumental duplicity of western powers in their support and pursuit of them, which, feels as old as the pyramids. Yup, our leaders are corrupt dictator-coddling con artists. Trump fits right in.

  145. Nothing aids terrorism more than making life appear not worth living.

  146. In spite of the endless number of the clergy members, the intellectuals, the academics, the journalists, the politicians, the historians, the elected officials, the professors and the aid workers, the humanity still believes that the hatred is controlled by the killings of those we hate. Not at all! Hatred is our own weakens and it could be eliminated exclusively by improving ourselves and our system of values. Hatred is the symptom of our personal weakness and shortcomings, not of the world around us… If we were fooled or defeated by somebody else, it happened because we were stupid, weak, naïve, greedy and divided… Hatred is just a cover up for all our weaknesses and deficiencies. The objective of hatred is to blame somebody else for our faults. That is why hatred is eternal. We are incapable of eliminating of our own foolishness..

  147. An "umma" is a place of harmonious coexistence of diversity, not monotonous uniformity.

  148. Dear Steve, I fully agree with you. It's the faith with its unifying principles that brings the people of different gender, age, race, ethnicity and culture into harmonious coexistence... At least that's its theoretical role...

  149. Our differences make mutually beneficial exchanges possible. Uniformity of values makes all exchanges zero sum propositions at best. Mohammad the Prophet's day job was trading as a caravan manager.

  150. Today we read that this mosque was attacked because it is Sufi. The murderers claim that Sufism is idolatrous because Sufis make a practice of maintaining and visiting the tombs of dead religious figures, which ISIS claims to offend God. What could possibly be more idolatrous than murder on such a pretext? Psychotics projecting a human personality onto the indifference of nature will kill this planet

  151. Steve, it's possible to defat the wrongful ISIS ideology in the several sentences. They are killing the innocent civilians under the pretext that they were the unbelievers, In the Quran, the book that the terrorists claim to believe in it's strictly prescribed it's exclusive God's prerogative to determine who's believer and who isn't. That makes the terrorists and their preachers the unbelievers. The Quran prohibits the believers from killing anybody who is not attacking us because it's allowed strictly in the self-defense. It means the Quran prohibited the 9/11 attacks too, but the terrorists believed more in a man that wrote the fatwa authorizing the massacre than the Holy Book...

  152. Can't help but recall my experience volunteering with at a community in Israel near the Sinai border in Egypt. There we were, a group of Jews planting flowers and trees. In the far off distance we could see little plumes of brown smoke where the Egyptian air force was bombing ISIS. It is hard not to be struck by that juxtaposition: one people volunteering to plant trees; another people busy blowing each other up. It's a shame that the Sinai isn't still part of Israel. It could be a lovely place.

  153. Let’s use the terrorist attack on the Sufi mosque in Egypt that killed more than 300 innocent civilians to analyze again the 9/11 attacks that killed more almost 3,000 civilians. From the perspective of the faith and the Quran there is absolutely no difference between those two massacres because the Commandments and the Rules from the Holy Book are universal and don’t depend on race, nationality, country or continent. It’s forbidden to attack or kill the people that are not attacking us. Only the pure self-defense is allowed. The Quran verses are clear. The Al Qaeda leaders and perpetrators thus tried to bypass the Quran and asked for the religious authorization from a local cleric. They were patiently waiting on his fatwa (a religious order) Simply said, those who willfully disobey the God words and follow any single human cannot be the believers. This truth should have been the main strategic line of attack on the Al Qaeda after the 9/11 – stripping them off any religious mantra or credibility and portraying them as the group that turned their backs to the Holy Book. Deprived of the faith-based authorization and backing of the Quran, the Al Qaeda would have been just a miniscule group of several hundred individuals that could have been destroyed by a simple police activity, and without any war, aggression or occupation…

  154. This murder of others on the pretext that reverence of their own dead is idolatry that offends God is one of the most ludicrous examples of schizoid idiocy in religion.

  155. The worst kind of blasphemy is to trivialize the true faith and turn it into something irrelevant and unimportant. Who cares if those people visited the graves of their predecessors?! There are so many neutral things in our lives that are just a matter of taste and not a matter of faith. The faith is just the set of universal principles that are truly limited in scope because those are designed to last till the end of times. If those faithful principles were loaded with the unimportant and useless details, those would very soon become anachronous and obsolete. The true faith is just a very limited number of the crucial principles in order to be universal in reach and duration. If the faith prescribed us how to dress, then what’s appropriate for the desert areas would be deadly for the North Pole and otherwise… That’s why the faith does not cover the details at all. It has to be universal in nature…

  156. Egypt has to be one of the most corrupt countries in this region...granted there is a lot of competition. I worked in the Sinai as part of the multinational force observers group (verifying the border as the Sinai was gradually returned to Egypt). The Egyptian troops across from us were a pitiful sight. They were conscripts, illiterate, poorly fed, most without proper shoes, given useless equipment, most of it non-functional. Yet whenever some big brass wanted to show off, he would land at one of their OPs in a shiny, polished Blackhawk helicopter--part of the millions in military aid the US doles out yearly to this corrupt military class of criminals. I assume the same "soldiers" are still out there, and being expected to carry on this fight against an enemy they (and their leaders) will never be able to beat. It doesn't surprise me that these poor guys are pretty much restricted to their armed camps and don't go out unarmed. The Sinai was not like that in the 90s.

  157. One wonders how many Egyptian soldiers have worms too.

  158. It’s much more important whether the soldiers have the brains than the worms. If they have the worms they will suffer a little. If they don’t have the brains they will blindly follow their stupid leaders into the bloody conflicts all over the world and lose their lives in vain…

  159. Here is the critically important question. How come that I have the right to describe as the unbelievers the terrorists who killed the innocent mosque goers during the prayers in Sinai but they don’t have the right to declare those victims as the unbelievers? See, I don’t make any specific decision regarding any single person, thus I am fully compliant to the Quran that reserved such an exclusive right for the Almighty. I just state a general rule that those who don’t believe in God but blindly follow any cleric directing them to act opposite to the God Commandments are the unbelievers. I just reiterate what is already stated by the Holy Book. In contrast, the terrorists that killed more than 300 innocent civilians had made the final and irrevocable decision about those specific individuals, thus encroached upon the exclusive God’s prerogative and committed the worst kind of blasphemy. Strip the terrorist organizations of their religious and faith-like camouflage and you will make them completely powerless, miniscule and irrelevant…

  160. Here is another critically important clarification. Could any terrorist potentially killed during the attack on the Sinai mosque be promoted to the status of martyr? Not really! Not at all! If only the Almighty has the right to determine whether somebody was a believer or not, then only God has the right to determine whether somebody died fighting on His path or not. No clergy member has the right to make this kind of decisions, so the clergy cannot declare anybody as the martyrs. The humans are not authorized by the Holy Book to make such a call. Proving that the clergy members have no idea what they are doing could be done very easily in Syria. Both the Sunnis imams and the Shiite mullahs are branding the fighters that were killed in a bloody civil war as the martyrs. From God’s perspective only those who love, help and protect their neighbors are the true believers. The true believers don’t hate their neighbors but love them. Hatred and the wars are the most obvious indicator of the lack of true faith… “Fighting” does not mean you are trying to kill somebody. It means you are trying to share God’s messages around in tolerant and peaceful way. Shooting a gun and killing somebody is very easy. Patiently dealing for years with a stubborn person is much more demanding and tempting, reserved for the strongest and most faithful individuals among us…