Cairo- Egypt’s former Mufti Dr. Ali Gomaa has survived an attempt on his life, after gunmen opened fire at him in a Cairo suburb on Friday, missing the cleric but wounding a bodyguard and a Mosque labor worker, the interior ministry said.
Dr. Gomaa’s office spokesman told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the attempted assassination took place when the cleric was on his way to a mosque near his house in the October 6 suburb. Four people were involved, two of which hiding out on top of an abandoned building, and another two assailants who staged the assault.
A Muslim Brotherhood sub-movement, known by Hasm, claimed the attack against mufti Gomaa.
The attack comes at a time that the Muslim Brotherhood terror group prepares to commemorate the third year marker on security forces disbanding protesters marching in support to the toppled president Mohamed Morsi mid-August, 2013. Hundreds were killed at the time.
The pro-Morsi protests were then known by the Rabaa al-Adawiya demonstrations, given that they took place at Cairo’s Rabaa al-Adawiya Square.
A former government official warned that the attempt on Gomaa’s life was part and parcel of a Brotherhood plotting a return to the political arena in Egypt.
Mufti Gomaa is considered one of the fierce religious figures standing against the terror group. This is not the first time that the cleric had suffered assaults—the Muslim Brotherhood had opened gunfire against Dr. Gomaa on March 2014, an assault so serious that it led to rumors of his death.
Gomaa later told Egyptian state television that after the attack, he “conducted the Friday prayers as a message to these people.”
“This attempt is a message aimed at creating fear,” he in a telephone interview.
In an interview with the CBC Extra, Gomaa said this was not the first attempt on his life and derided the assailants as “very stupid.”
“They blew up my house in Fayoum,” he said, referring to a province southwest of Cairo. And assailants had also “tried before from the park” outside his Cairo home.
Gomaa was the mufti — the government’s official interpreter of Islamic law — for a decade until 2013.
He strongly backed the army’s overthrow of Brotherhood-backing Morsi that year and the subsequent deadly crackdown on his supporters.
Since stepping down as mufti, Gomaa has remained one of the country’s top Islamic scholars.
Gomaa is known for his moderate views on religion but is hated by the Brotherhood for supporting the crackdown against them during Morsi’s overthrow.
He is a member of the council of senior scholars in the Al-Azhar institute, the top body in Sunni Islam’s most prestigious center of learning, and has hosted a religious affairs program on television.