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Why is Egypt Being Targeted Now? - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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It is too early to know the reason and the motives behind the terrorist incident that took place on Sunday in the famous tourist district of Al-Hussein in Cairo which left one French tourist dead, and injured 24 others tourists of various nationalities.

The rudimentary planning of this terrorist act does not detract from its seriousness or the size of the ensuing carnage, rather the danger of this terrorist act stems from the site that it targeted, as well as its timing. To target the Al-Hussein tourist district is to target Egyptian tourism as a whole, and the Egyptian economy in its entirety. The district in which the attack took place is a center of tourism for all who visit Egypt, whether they are tourists or not. Tourism in Egypt is a key sector for the country, and in 2008 achieved revenue in the region of $11 billion, which is equivalent to 11 percent of the Egyptian gross domestic product [GDP], while also providing employment to around 12 percent of Egypt’s total workforce.

The number of tourists visiting Egypt last year also reached a peak of almost 13 million foreign tourists – three times the size of the same statistic in 2000 – from all over the world.

All of the previous figures indicate that this attack is an attack on the Egyptian economy, and an attempt to hit its vital tourism sector. It does not matter whether this attack was carried out by a large organization, a small cell, or even individuals.

Since the events of 9/11 in New York terrorists have begun to target larger numbers, in uncomplicated criminal operations that are shocking at first glance. Targeting soft [civilian] targets in order to spread terror, in addition to focusing on vital economic sectors, which is something that we have seen in various locations. The seriousness of this attacks timing lies in the fact that the Arab region is still unstable and volatile, and that Egypt stands at the heart of these crises today. It is easy here to propound conspiracy theories, or point the finger of accusation; all according to [promote] one’s own purposes and objectives.

The most important thing is that this attack reminds us of the dangers of terrorism and the terrorist mentality, and that while terrorism still has a breath in its body, it will target any country or sector so long as our society does not stand vigilant [to this threat] or falls to the belief that terrorism is no longer harmful; rather than operation on the basis that there is [still] a long road ahead [to achieve this].

Here we must recall that the justification of terrorism is what nourishes terrorists and terrorism. If we still do not know who committed this bombing [in Cairo] and their motives for doing so, then we must not facilitate [blind] accusations, just as we similarly must not convey any justifications for terrorism.

Anyone that says that they condemn criminal acts “but” that Egypt’s youth are angry, or that the conditions lead to this [act of terrorism] is justifying terrorism. The word “but” should not be present when condemning terrorism.

All that we need to combat terrorism is to remove any justifications for terrorism in any way, shape or form, and put in its place the condemnation of violence regardless of any reasons or justifications; for the fire of violence burns everybody and everything.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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