Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat’s assassination showed terrorism was emphasising a message to Egyptian authorities. It was a message that not only could they easily get rid of a top official, but that they could also defeat the state’s information, security and political system, according to analysts.
Coinciding with three attacks last week in Kuwait, Tunisia and France, the incident in Egypt sparked international reaction.
Egypt has a particular experience with militant groups based on the Muslim Brotherhood’s threatened use of violence in case they are pursued. The state assume the group is the root of all hostilities as well as militant groups such as “State of Sinai” and others.
This has put other countries in dispute with Egypt, namely the US, Qatar and Turkey. Meanwhile, Gulf countries were considered allies of Egypt in the 30 June movement.
For his part, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry participated, with the international community, in countering terrorism efforts and combating militants, including France’s Charlie Hebdo march, attended by world leaders.
The global community reacted through officials and through media to the elimination of Barakat.
On the one hand, Saudi Arabia, one of Al-Sisi’s strongest supporters, backed him up once again, despite some speculation that political bilateral relations could become tense over the kingdom’s alleged support of the Brotherhood in Yemen.
Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir issued a statement strongly condemning the “terrorist attack on Barakat”. He added that his country stands in solidarity with “sister country” Egypt, its government and people in protecting their soil and restoring stability.
Furthermore, the Saudi Council of Ministers headed by King Salman Bin Abdul Aziz released a similar statement at the end of a Monday meeting in Jeddah regarding the latest regional and international developments, which also tackled the recent attacks in Tunisia, Kuwait and France.
As for media coverage, Barakat’s killing ran intensively on Asharq Al-Awsat, based in London, with headlines reading “the assassination of the most ruthless fighter against terrorism”. Local Saudi news website Okaz also covered the incident with details related to the security of the prosecutor’s motorcade.
The UAE seemed to announce a firm stance, by using the words “reiterates solidarity with Egypt”, as the country’s permanent representative in the Arab League’s emergency meeting Monday declared “full support and efforts to Egypt”.
Tunisia, Sudan, Yemen and other Arab leaders telephoned Al-Sisi and offered condolences.
Meanwhile, the Qatari Foreign Ministry released a short statement denouncing the assassination and saying the country “rejects political violence and killing regardless of the reasons, motives or justifications”.
The news went almost uncovered in Qatari newspapers, with the exception of publishing the FM’s statement. As for Al Jazeera network, coverage on Barakat relied on second hand sources concerning the official side, but Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson’s comments were quoted, in addition to a separate story regarding Amnesty International’s report on oppressed youth in Egypt.
As for foreign reactions, the US State of Department issued a firm statement in which it said it “condemns in the strongest possible terms the terrorist attack”, and reaffirmed standing firmly with the Egyptian government against terrorism.
They also focused on other injured civilians in the attack as did the UN’s Secretary-General who stated that he hoped for the “full recovery of the injured and calls for those responsible for the attack to be brought to justice”.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International (AI) focused on civilians’ human rights violated in Egypt, warning against further death penalty sentences as justice to Barakat’s death.
However, Said Boumedouha, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Programme Director at AI seemed to be justifying an inciting speech known as “Nedaa Al-Kenana“, which promoted the killing of officials from police, military and judicial, because of their violations, despite describing the assassination as a cowardly and cold-blooded act of murder.
The European Union spokesperson in Brussels briefly re-affirmed “its commitment to support Egypt in its fight against terrorism”. France, Britain, Italy also expressed support, while German Foreign Ministry issued a brief statement of condolence.
Last but not least, the Turkish comment on the killing was the shortest of all. It was one line published on the Turkish Foreign Ministry website that read: “We condemn the terrorist attack that targeted Egyptian officials.”