On Friday, November 24th, a brutal attack in Egypt took the lives of over 300 people and wounded over a hundred more. Sadly, the death toll continues to rise. Hundreds of people gathered at the Al Rawdah mosque in Bir-Al-Abed, a town in northern Sinai, for what they thought would be their normal Friday prayers. However, between 25 and 30 terrorists attacked the mosque, setting off bombs and shooting at the congregation. Even as people fled and ambulances began to arrive, the armed men continued their massacre. The heavily armed attackers allegedly had an ISIS flag and were dressed in military uniforms. At this time, no group has claimed responsibility for what may be the worst attack in modern Egyptian history.
So, why would a Muslim extremist group brutally attack and kill hundreds of Muslims during their prayer? The northern Sinai region of Egypt has been under a state of emergency since 2013 due to militant attacks in the religion. One of the major terrorist groups in the region, Sinai Province, is affiliated with ISIS and has attacked churches in the past. The Al Rawdah mosque is considered to be the birthplace of a Sufi cleric and it is known that the people of that area are part of a branch of Islam known as Sufism. This branch of Islam is known for its mystics and Whirling Dervishes, and it is generally accepted by other Muslims. However, some Jihad groups, such as ISIS, consider those who practice Sufism to be heretics. Therefore, they would not see the Al Rawdah mosque as a bastion of their version of Islam, but rather as a house of heresy. This would explain the awful reasoning behind the attack.
In response to this attack, the Egyptian Air Force carried out strikes against terrorists in the surrounding areas. The Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has vowed to use “brute force” to bring the perpetrators to justice. Meanwhile, leaders from around the world have also condemned the attack.
While this event happened far from the US, it is important to remember that the people who were affected by this barbaric attack were all human, just like us. Tragically, hundreds of people, including children, were killed by men who were all trying to spread terror. The people in northern Sinai will never forget about the horrible, pointless deaths of the innocent people who were peacefully practicing their religion. This event serves as a reminder that there are people around the world who live with the threat of terrorism every single day, and that if we are fortunate enough to have peace in our communities, we should be thankful. However, please don’t forget about all of those who are not as fortunate.
Hi, my name is Kathryn Kuhar and I am a 19-year-old sophomore at Harvard College studying Government. A fun fact about me is that I’ve lived in Hawaii, California, Belgium, and Turkey.