Church Bombings in Egypt
ChurchBombings in Egypt
Attacksthat occurred in the two Coptic Churches in Egypt on 9th April 2017were one of the most devastating events demonstrating the existenceof the conflict between the Islamic State, the Egyptian government,and Coptic Church. The attack that shocked many individuals in Egyptand other parts of the world occurred on Palm Sunday one of the mostrevered celebrations by Christians (Hendawi, 2017). The attackssignify the existence of the conflict between Egyptian governmentsthat is now diffusing to unarmed Civilians. This conflict seemsdeeply rooted in hatred and thus the need to evaluate the articlethrough conflict theory. The topic of this study is Church bombingsin Egypt. This study seeks to analyze an article written by HamzaHendawi in the Toronto Star on 9th April 2017 and evaluate it throughconflict theory (Hendawi, 2017).
Terroristattack on two churches in Egypt was one of the most devastatingattacks that occurred on 9th April 2017. The attack took place whilethe group of Christian’s worshipers was celebrating Palm Sundaykilling 37 individuals and wounding more than 127 others (Hendawi,2017). A group referred to as Islamic State claimed to be responsiblefor the attack. The first bombing attack was carried out at theChurch of Saint George located in the Tanta city that is along theNile killing more than 26 people and wounding at least 70 people(Hendawi, 2017). The second attack occurred in the Cathedral of SaintMark that is found in Alexandria one of the ancient coastal cities inEgypt killing more than 11 individuals and wounding at least 37others. The second attack happened minutes after Pope Tawadros IIfinished the services and thus he was able to escape the attackwithout being harmed. Islamic state soon declared through Aamaq Newsthat they were responsible for carrying out the attack havingreported in the past that they were targeting to attack Christianchurches in Egypt (Hendawi, 2017). The terrorist attack occurredduring the onset of the Holy Week and at the time when Pope Francisis about to visit Egypt.
PopeFrancis criticized the attacks expressed his condolences to PopeTawadros II who he declared as his brother (Hendawi, 2017). Thebombings also took place during the time when Pope Francis wascelebrating mass to mark Palm Sunday that took place at St. Peter’sin Rome. Sheikh El-Tayeb who heads the Al-Azhar learning center inEgypt, Islamic Hamas and Israel condemned the attack. The attackcaused a lot of fear because Islamic extremists had been battlingsoldiers and police in Sinai Peninsula but currently seems to targetcivilians (Hendawi, 2017). The extremist had also claimed the attackcarried out by a suicide bomber in a Church in Cairo in December 2016killing thirty individuals who were mostly women. There has also beenkilling in Sinai Peninsula targeting civilians in the recent pastforcing a large number of Christians to move from these areas toother safer areas in Egypt. Egypt has continuously battled Islamicmilitancy from the year 2013 after the overthrow of elected presidentwho was affiliated with the Islamist group (Hendawi, 2017).
Otherthan bombing and killing civilians the Islamic State also claimed tobe responsible for the downing of passenger plane belonging toRussian while flying over Sinai in the year 2015 killing 224passengers on board. Coptic Christians are one of the Middle East’soldest groups and have always complained of being discriminated inthat the government has done little to protect them (Hendawi, 2017).Egyptian media also reported that the church in Tanta was targeted inMarch 2016, but the attack was not successful. Members of the CopticChurch supported the military action that culminated to the overthrowof President Mohammed Morsi who was affiliated with the Islamistgroup. The support made the members of Islamists militancy vow thatthey would attack churches belonging to Christian after theirpreferred leader Mohammed Morsi was overthrown (Hendawi, 2017).
Theabove incident can be evaluated through conflict theory that wasfirst described by Karl Marx. According to the theory, theindividuals in the society are always in conflict (Segre, 2016).Unlike functionalism where parts of the community are workingtogether, the proponent of conflict theory asserts that groups orparts are in constant competition for resources or power. Conflictperspective describes different aspects of the social world byidentifying the groups that have power and capability to benefit fromcertain social arrangements (Segre, 2016). The theory may be used toelucidate diverse social phenomena such as revolutions, wars,discrimination, wealth, domestic violence, and poverty. Conflicttheory mostly revolves around ideas regarding social inequality,different resources distribution, and conflicts that might existamong classes or groups of people.
Accordingto this theory, society or various factions within the society are inconstant conflict in that there is no consensus or any form ofconformity among these groups (Segre, 2016). The argument is that twogroups are always competing and thus the conflict between them is abasic component. Accordingly, one group works to control and suppressthe other group. The struggle is meant to maintain social order whereone group benefits while the other groups lose the battle. Accordingto this theory, terrorism is a response to an act of injustice.However, such understanding may be misguiding to the terroristbecause they are guided by unrealistic goals, frustration, ignorance,illiteracy and violent behavior (Segre, 2016). According to theirunderstanding, any form of conflict/misunderstanding must be resolvedthrough wars, attacks and other acts of aggression. As such,conflicts always arise as the issues and differences between groupsarise.
Individualsand leaders all over the world have always sought ways of solvingconflicts among them. Conversely, when the problems they are facingare deeply rooted in other issues such as ideological beliefs, itbecomes tough to solve such problems (Stern & Berger, 2016). Forinstance, it is complex to resolve conflicts when they are engrossedin ideologies such as religion. According to conflict theory, thegroups will always be in conflicts indefinitely as long as there isno balance of power or resources. Although it may not be true toargue that terrorist activities are rooted in religion, statisticsshows that 83% of all the terrorist activities carried out between1980 and 2003 were rooted in religion (Stern & Berger, 2016).
Terroristgroups like Islamic State use violence and take it as the only way inwhich they can maintain power or remain relevant. Terrorism is viewedas the weapon of the weak, but terrorist sees it as means and aweapon to achieve their objectives, defend their position, andsolidify their religious beliefs. According to Islamic Stateideology, any group that does not agree with the way they interpretIslam is an apostate or an infidel (Segre, 2016). Consequently,itfollows that religious form of violence must be waged by theextremist to suppress the group that fails to interpret Islam intheir view. Inability to have a common understanding regarding theinterpretation of Islam leads to conflict between Islamic states andany other group.
Conflicttheory is the most relevant theory to evaluate the article that hasbeen described because there is the conflict between Islamic Stateand Coptic Christian group that is based in Egypt (Stern &Berger, 2016). Besides, there is the conflict between the Egyptiangovernment and Islamic State because the two groups are fighting inSinai Peninsula over control of the territory. The reason is thatIslamic State declared that they were responsible for the attack andhad planned other attacks in the past leading to the death of manypeople. The conflict is deeply rooted in religion because the attackwas directed to a Christian group in the two attacks and in anotherattack that happened in the past. For instance, according to thearticle, an attempt to attack in Match 2016 was planned while thesimilar attack was conducted at a Church in Cairo in December 2016killing 30 people (Hendawi, 2017).
Moreover,attacks are going on in Sinai Peninsula targeting Christian thusforcing them to migrate. Accordingly, there is the persistentconflict between Islamic State and members of Coptic Christian Churchin Egypt. Correspondingly, Coptic Christian Church under PopeTawadros II had supported the overthrow of Islamic State preferredleader Mohammed Morsi (Hendawi, 2017). At the same time, applicationof conflict theory is evidence because Islamic State aspires toremain relevant by attacking Christian group so that they can instillfear in members of the community. Islamic group conducted majorattacks to the army, police and Christian group to demonstrate thefact that they are a major fighting force.
Accordingto this theory, Islamic State utilizes all the measures at theirdisposal to cause a revolution by attacking an unarmed group ofCoptic Christians (Stern & Berger, 2016). Through these attacks,the group hopes that they will be identified, accepted other memberof Islam religion and possibly gain more support and membership.Accordingly, the group intention is to acquire social status andclose the gap of social inequality which according to them existsbetween them and the Coptic Christian group (Stern & Berger,2016). Essentially, the group members may wish to be accepted andrecognized by the community the way Coptic Christian group has beenapproved (Segre, 2016). To achieve this objective, they intend tofight the other group through terroristic attacks thus bringing outthe conflict. At the same time, the conflict between the Egyptiangovernment and Islamic State is demonstrated through persistentconflicts between the two groups in the Sinai Peninsula. IslamicState fights to gain control of the Sinai Peninsula or the entirecountry as they had achieved when President Morsi was in power (Stern& Berger, 2016). The reason is that they felt the loss aftertheir preferred president Mohammed Morsi, was overthrown.
Theattack that was carried out by Islamic State in Egypt on 9th April2017 was another blow to the Coptic Church that has suffered otherattack in the past. It was conducted in both cities of Tanta andAlexandria in Egypt killing 37 and wounded more than 120 others. Theattack happened at the time Christian in this region and other partsof the world were celebrating Palm Sunday. The attack can beevaluated through conflict theory because it shows that there existeda conflict between Egyptian government, Islamic State, and CopticChurch. As such, Islamic State wanted to be recognized as a dominantforce in the region that is entitled to recognizable social status.Correspondingly, the Coptic Church had supported the overthrow oftheir preferred leader, and thus Islamic State wanted to carry outrevenge through the attack. Consequently, conflicts arose between thetwo groups culminating in an assault. The conflict has been inexistence for a long time between the Islamic State, the Egyptiangovernment and Coptic Church and thus the three groups are inconstant conflict over social status power. The battle betweenIslamic State and Egyptian government over Sinai Peninsula could bearising because of disagreement on control vital resources.
Churchbombings in Egypt kill 44, wound 126
TANTA,EGYPT—Bombs tore through two Egyptian churches in different citiesas worshippers were marking Palm Sunday, killing at least 37 peopleand wounding around 100 in an assault claimed by the Islamic Stategroup.
Inthe first, attack, a bomb exploded at Saint George church in the NileDelta city of Tanta, killing at least 26 people and wounding over 70,officials said.
Later,an explosion hit Saint Mark’s Cathedral in the coastal city ofAlexandria, the historic seat of Christendom in Egypt, killing atleast 11 people and wounding 35 just after Pope Tawadros II finishedservices. His aides later told local media that he had escapedunharmed.
ISclaimed the attacks via its Aamaq news agency, after having recentlywarned that it would step up attacks on Egypt’s Christians.
Theblasts came at the start of Holy Week leading up to Easter, and justweeks before Pope Francis is due to visit the Arab world’s mostpopulous country.
CBCTV showed footage from inside the church in Tanta, where a largenumber of people gathered around what appeared to be lifeless, bloodybodies covered with papers. Regional Deputy Health Minister MohammedSharshar confirmed the toll.
Egyptiansgather at near a church in Alexandria after a bomb blast struckworshippers gathering to celebrate Palm Sunday.  (STRINGER/ AFP/GETTY IMAGES)
Acrossthe street, neighbour Susan Mikhail, whose apartment has a clearbalcony view of the church and its front yard, said the explosionviolently shook her building midmorning, at a time when the churchwas packed.
“Deaconswere the first to run out of the church. Many of them had blood ontheir white robes,” she told The Associated Press. Later, the moreseriously wounded started to come out, carried in the arms ofsurvivors and ferried to hospitals in private cars, she said.
PopeFrancis decried the bombings, expressing “deep condolences to mybrother, Pope Tawadros II, the Coptic church and all of the dearEgyptian nation.” Word of the attacks came as Francis himself wasmarking Palm Sunday in St. Peter’s Square.
Egyptianswheel away a body near a church in Alexandria after a bomb blaststruck worshippers gathering to celebrate Palm Sunday.
GrandSheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, head of Egypt’s Al-Azhar — the leadingcentre of learning in Sunni Islam — likewise condemned the attacks,calling them a “despicable terrorist bombing that targeted thelives of innocents.”
BothIsrael and the Islamic Hamas movement ruling neighbouring Gaza alsocondemned the bombings.
Atleast 37 people have been confirmed killed in the attack, which hasbeen claimed by Daesh, also known as ISIS or ISIL.
Thebombings add to fears that Islamic extremists who have long beenbattling security forces in the Sinai Peninsula are shifting theirfocus to civilians.
AnIslamic State affiliate claimed a suicide bombing at a Cairo churchin December that killed around 30 people, mostly women, as well as astring of killings in the restive northern Sinai that caused hundredsof Christians to flee to safer areas of the country.
Thegroup recently released a video vowing to step up attacks againstChristians, who it describes as “infidels” empowering the Westagainst Muslims.
Egypthas struggled to combat a wave of Islamic militancy since the 2013military overthrow of an elected Islamist president.
Sunday`sblasts came at the start of Holy Week, and just weeks before PopeFrancis is due to visit the country.  (KHALED DESOUKI)
TheSinai-based IS affiliate has mainly attacked police and soldiers, buthas also claimed bombings that killed civilians, including thedowning of a Russian passenger plane over the Sinai in 2015, whichkilled all 224 people on board and devastated Egypt’s tourismindustry.
Egypt’sCopts are one of the oldest Christian communities in the Middle East.They have long complained of discrimination and that the governmentdoes not do enough to protect them.
Egyptianmedia had previously reported that the church in Tanta had beentargeted in the past, with a bomb defused there in late March.
TheCopts were largely supportive of the military overthrow of IslamistPresident Mohammed Morsi, and incurred the wrath of many Islamists,who attacked churches and other Christian institutions after hisouster.
Segre,S. (2016). Contemporarysociological thinkers and theories.London: Rutledge.
Stern,J., & Berger, J. M. (2016). ISIS:The state of terror. New York : Eco Press, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
Hendawi,H. (2017,April, 9). Churchbombings in Egypt kill 44, wound 126.Retrieved fromhttps://www.thestar.com/news/world/2017/04/09/church-bombings-in-egypt-kill-37-wound-dozens.html
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