By Libya Herald staff.
Cairo, 16 February 2015:
There has been a horrified reaction worldwide to the explicit videos posted by IS in . . .[restrict]Libya showing the decapitation of 21 Egyptian on a beach near Sirte.
The video was the more terrible because, unlike IS videos from Syria, the cameras did not cut away. YouTube has since taken down the posting.
The outrage at the film has ranged from governments to human rights organisations. But most especially Egyptians have been shocked and incensed by the images.
Though those massacred were Christians, on Egypt’s streets Muslims and Christians alike have expressed outrage and profound sadness at the horrific event.
Said one Cairo taxi driver, “We are Muslims and we are Christians, but we are all Egyptians and this affects us all.”
Egyptians across the board have been calling for revenge. There was mass approval, from church leaders and on the streets, of the airstrikes carried out today by Egypt against IS targets in Libya
Streets near one of Cairo’s largest churches, in the Abassiya area, were blocked off as people streamed into the area to offer their condolences to Cairo’s Copts. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi visited Coptic Pope Tawadros II to offer his condolences to Egyptians Coptic community. Sisi has declared an unprecedented week of national mourning in Egypt.
Cairo’s Al-Azhar University released a statement condemning the murders, saying: “This barbaric and savage act is not related to any religion and is the work of diseased hearts.” Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam also visited Pope Tawadros to extend his condolences.
At both Egypt’s largest Coptic church and also the largest Evangelical church, Egyptian Christians gathered this evening to pray for the victims’ families, for Egypt and for Libya.
Meanwhile, in Minya, where most of the victims came from, grieving residents were clad in black as a memorial service was held at a church there. Afterwards, residents held a demonstration, condemning the killings.
Libyans living in Egypt also expressed their condemnation of the killings. A small crowd of Libyans gathered at Libyan Community Club in the Cairo suburb of Maadi to hold a press conference this evening. A statement was read condemning the act and offering condolences to the families of the victims.
Some Libyans stated their approval of the airstrikes. Others were concerned about Egypt’s interference in Libya.
One Libyan man who has been in Cairo for several months and wished not to be named told the Libya Herald, “I am worried that there will be backlash against any remaining Egyptians in Libya as a result of these airstrikes.”
The international community has been swift in reacting. In the US, a White House statement said that IS “barbarity knows no bounds” and condemned the attack as a “despicable and cowardly murder”. Secretary of State John Kerry called Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry and offered the US’s condolences.
The Canadian government released a statement that declared, “Barbaric acts such as this do not shake our resolve but, rather, confirm the rightness of our cause and the vital necessity of our mission” against the Islamic State.
Meanwhile UK Prime Minister Cameron also released a statement of condemnation. “Our efforts to defeat the monstrosity of Islamist extremism must not waver,” Cameron’s statement read, adding, “Libya must not become a safe haven for terrorists.”
France’s President, Francois Hollande, expressed “determination of France and its allies to fight” the IS.
Germany, Saudi Arabia, Iran, UAE, Armenia, Jordan and the GCC also expressed their condemnation of the event and offered condolences to Egypt and the victims’ families.
Likewise, the Beida-based Libyan government also released a statement condemning the attack. Hamas released a statement condemning the act and calling it a “distortion of the image of Islam”.
The UN Security Council statement declared: “This crime once again demonstrates the brutality of ISIL, which is responsible for thousands of crimes and abuses against people from all faiths, ethnicities and nationalities, and without regard to any basic value of humanity.”
Religious groups and human rights organisations joined in the condemnations. At the Vatican, Pope Francis offered his condolences and prayed for the victims’ families.
Human Rights Watch, while condemning the killings, expressed concern about retaliation measures taken by Egypt and Libya.
“The response to this latest atrocity must not meet savagery with savagery and should protect civilian lives. Authorities in both Libya and Egypt should not feed the fire that this group seeks to stoke,” declared Hanan Salah, a researcher with Human Rights Watch.