Immediately text messages started coming in: Cairo explosion near Khan outside Hussein Mosque; The explosion was by the mosque, at least 4 ppl died; Hear about the bomb? Got any info?; and the list goes on. I don’t think I’m alone in what I did after receiving these messages. I quickly turned on the BBC and flipped back and forth to CNN, got on the computer as I was met with im’s from friends here and quickly searched news sites. Then a friend called with confirmation from the embassy about the bombing. I immediately sent out texts to all of my friends relaying messages.
Varying reports surfaced, and while it is the next day, I’m still finding inaccuracies among different news agencies/sources. The bombing took place yesterday afternoon in the Khan el-Khalili, a large bazaar and popular tourist destination. The last attack in the area took place in 2005, killing two French citizens and an American. Reports conclude that one French woman was killed in yesterday’s attack, in addition to about 20 others being injured (numbers aren’t conclusive).
It is said that two bombs, targeted at tourists in the nearby café, were dropped from a nearby hotel. The second bomb failed to detonate, although Egyptian authorities said they successfully defused it. One eye witness praying at Hussein Mosque said he saw three men from the third story, and authorities have reportedly detained three men suspected in the attack.
All of those injured are not per the bomb, but the stampede that ensued afterward. However, this does lead to concerns that more violence may occur as tensions over Egypt’s stance regarding the Gaza conflict continues. The Muslim Brotherhood, the main opposition group in Egypt, has denounced attacks although many still speculate their genuineness. The Brotherhood has long been the model for Islamic political movements and has close ties with the Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas.
I first learned about the Brotherhood shortly after my arrival to Cairo. I was told that the Brotherhood was seemingly a peaceful organization that wished to dispel the long and what some may refer to as ineffective ruling of President Mubarak. I was told this story of the Brotherhood meeting as Egyptian soldiers immediately stormed the premises and detained members. Egyptian emergency laws prohibit gatherings of more than five people and permit prosecutions on such vague grounds. I was later told by an Egyptian that this was in the best interests for most, especially westerners, as the Brotherhood would impose harsh conservative Islamic code and eventually drive foreigners out of the country. One Egyptian simply told me, "I don't like them, they have bad thoughts." Another Coptic Christian added, "They want to destroy all of us. They want us to pay in for our safety, but still destroy us like in the 6th Century."
The Brotherhood currently occupies a small percentage of seats in the Egyptian Parliament, unable to make any decisions, but making their presence known.
While that story is simply heresy and opinion based, what I will say is that the Brotherhood does believe in enforcing Sharia as the law of the land. Sharia is Islamic law and while I am not well-versed on the subject matter, I do know that it scares many westerners with the implications that basic rights – especially for women – are denied. However, you may click on the Wikipedia link and through that do your own research (as we know anyone may post on Wiki and perhaps it isn’t the best reference tool).
I also want to note that for those of you reading this, please be mindful that there are extremist in every religion and it isn’t fair or just to associate these actions with all Muslims.