Thursday 22 February 2018

Isil finally reaches Cairo, but the Egyptian president's own laws are creating terror

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Photo: Reuters
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Photo: Reuters

Robert Fisk

So it's back to Egypt's ghastly prisons, no arrest warrants, fearful interrogations, and a presidential state of emergency which brings the army back on to the streets. But it's also a frightening prospect for President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in the aftermath of the church attacks and the slaughter of 45 Coptic Christians - for it means that Isil has "crossed the canal", something which his army has been trying to prevent for months.

Donald Trump may think that Mr al-Sisi has done "a fantastic job in a very difficult situation" but in fact he's done a deplorable job, presiding over multiple disappearances of anyone the police don't like, allowing torture to resume in police stations (we should not forget the Italian student found tortured and murdered beside a highway outside Cairo), and pretending that the Muslim Brotherhood, whose government he overthrew in a coup d'état, is Isil.

It is not. The unspoken fact is that much of the Sinai peninsula has been under Isil control for months as the puritan gunmen of this most horrifying phenomenon have attacked Christians and soldiers and police in the land between the Suez Canal and Gaza. Mr al-Sisi felt able to claim - how often do we hear this nonsense from world leaders - that he was "winning the war against terrorism". In fact, his pernicious laws are creating more terrorism by isolating thousands of young people from any hope of a return to democracy.

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