Egypt sets up ‘national council’ to combat ‘terror’
CAIRO – Agence France-PresseEgypt has created a “national council” to combat the rise of Islamist “terrorism” which has targeted its security forces and Coptic Christian minority, in a presidential decree issued on Wednesday.
The decree, published in Egypt’s official gazette, sets up a “national council to combat terrorism and extremism” by adopting a “global national strategy.”
The council is to be chaired by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and will comprise the sheikh of Al-Azhar, the highest Sunni religious authority in Egypt, and its Coptic pope, as well as the parliament speaker, premier and cabinet members, including the youth and sports minister.
A primary task of the high-powered panel will be to develop “job opportunities in the regions hit by extremism,” to examine the prospects for industrial zones and of amendments to existing legislation.
Egypt has been fighting an insurgency waged by the Islamic State jihadist group based in North Sinai province, where hundreds of soldiers and policemen have been killed since the military’s ouster in 2013 of Sisi’s Islamist predecessor Mohamed Morsi.
At the same time, new groups have attacked security forces in other parts of the country, including the Hasam group -- an extremist movement the government says is linked to Morsi’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.
IS militants have killed dozens of Copts in church bombings and shooting attacks in Egypt since December, and the group has threatened further attacks.