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Egypt Denies Asking Christian Residents to Leave North Sinai | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A Christian man who fled el-Arish stands outside the Evangelical Church in Ismailia, 120 kilometers (75 miles) east of Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, February 26, 2017. (AP/Nariman El-Mofty)

Cairo – Several members of the Egyptian parliament demanded to check the country’s security plan against ISIS in north Sinai, in what seems a doubt of the government’s ability to end the attacks of the terrorist organization.

The request comes after hundreds of Egypt’s Coptic Christians have fled the Sinai Peninsula following a number of killings in recent weeks by suspected militants.

Speaker of the parliament refused the demanded saying that strategies are confidential and are not subject to any parliament in the world.

Egypt’s Minister of Interior Magdy Abdel-Ghaffar defended his country’s security strategy on Sunday saying that the ministry has not asked any citizen to leave North Sinai.

Since Friday, Christian families began leaving their homes in north Sinai after ISIS terrorists have shot and killed at least seven Christians in separate attacks in Sinai’s el-Arish city.

Evangelical Church in the Suez Canal city of Ismailiya began receiving displaced citizens.

The speaker pointed out that no parliament in the world demands its army to present a security plan to secure the area.

He added that everyone in this world knows that the armed forces and police are fighting terrorism on behalf of the entire world.

The speaker stressed that the parliament more than once stood a minute of silence for the martyrs of the police and army who lost their lives while fighting terrorism in difficult areas. He also mentioned that Minister of Social Solidarity, governor of Ismailia and a number of MPs visited the displaced civilians to see to their needs.

MP Samah Saad said that the murder against the officers in Arish is part of the attacks against forces that have been happening for years now. She added that Coptic families should be secured against the attacks that threaten their religious identity.

In addition, MP Margaret Azar said that terrorism targets both the army and the Coptic families. She added that Ministry of Housing promised to provide places to all families that were displaced.

Azar demanded the armed forces to send messages of reassurance for the families in the area.

Minister Abdel-Ghaffar held a meeting with top security officials on Sunday during which he said that the ministry has not asked any citizen to leave North Sinai.

During the meeting, Abdel-Ghaffar said the ministry is responsible for the safety of all citizens across the whole state, including North Sinai, vowing to continue the fight against terrorism, sparing no effort.

He praised the achievements of the security forces, stressing that the citizens should trust the forces’ capabilities to defend the country.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail ordered the establishment of an operations room to coordinate the provision of services to the families.

In addition, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi hailed the “strategic and special” military relations with the United States.

Presidential spokesperson Alaa Youssef said that Sisi met on Sunday General Joseph L. Votel, commander of the US Central Command (CENTCOM), in the presence of Egyptian Minister of Defense Sedki Sobhi and US ambassador to Egypt Robert S. Beercroft.

The meeting tackled the latest security developments in the Middle East and international efforts to eradicate terrorism and ways to restore security and stability in the region.

Both sides discussed several issues of common interest and ways to restore stability in the Middle East – in addition to increasing military cooperation in exchanging military expertise between the Egyptian armed forces and their American counterparts.

Sisi emphasized the importance of strategic Egypt-US relations, namely in military cooperation, suggesting its expansion to face the parallel increase of extremism and terrorism threats to the region and the world.

Sisi told Votel Egypt has, over the past three years, spared no effort in its fight against terrorism and extremism, Youssef added.

The two countries are convinced that this is the perfect way to end conflicts, spare further bloodshed and restore peace and stability to the region.

For his part, Votel described Egypt as “one of our most important partners in the region,” a statement by the US embassy said Sunday.