The Sufi al-Rawda mosque in the town of Bir al-Abed was attacked yesterday during Friday prayers.
Armed militants detonated a bomb inside the packed mosque and then proceded to open fire on the panicing frenzy of worshippers. 305 people were killed in this attack along with 128 severely wounded. Officials are naming it the deadliest attack terrorist attack in Egypt’s modern history, surpassing the events of the Sinai insurgency of 2013. Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi has vowed to respond to the bombing with “brute force.”
According to witnesses, dozens of gunmen arrived in off-road vehicles to the packed mosque before detonating a bomb and opening fire on escaping worshippers. The gunmen were reported to have set several parked cars surrounding the mosque of fire to block escape routes for civilians.
“They were shooting at people as they left the mosque,” a local resident who had relatives there told Reuters news agency. “They were shooting at the ambulances too.”
Who were the targets?
The al Rawda mosque is known by locals to be a gathering for Sufi Muslims. Sufism is a mystical branch of Sunni Islam that focuses on the inward search for god and shuns anything materialistic.
Even though Sufis are widely accepted across the majority of the Muslim world they are seen by some as heretics for their practices. Alexander D. Knysh, a professor of Islamic studies at the University of Michigan describes Sufism as a “very wide, amorphous movement” practiced within both the Sunni and Shiite traditions.
“The opponents of Sufism see the shrines and these living saints as idols,” Mr. Knysh explained. “Their existence and their worship violates the main principle of Islam, which is the uniqueness of God and the uniqueness of the object of worship.”
Tension Behind the Attack
The Sinai Peninsula is no stranger to massive terrorist attacks. This is only the latest attack in the Sinai Insurgency that began in 2011 following the Egyptian revolution. Mr
President Trump stated in multiple tweets that he planned on calling the Egyptian president to talk about the “tragic terrorist attack” and reinforcing the need for a border wall and travel ban.
Friday morning President Trump tweeted condemning the attack, referring to it as “horrible and cowardly.”
The White House also released an official statement condemning the attacks and offering their condolences to the families affected.