The legal and security vacuum created by the government’s inability to enforce the rule of law in Sinai is being exploited by hard-line Islamists who aspire to establish a parallel state governed not by Egypt’s constitution — now suspended — but instead by a retrograde interpretation of sharia that relegates women and religious minorities to second-class citizenship. One sharia judge in Arish was so outraged by the impunity with which police and soldiers killed hundreds of Morsi supporters in Cairo on Aug. 14 that he posted on his Facebook page a faux verdict calling for the public execution of Sissi, Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim and other “infidel” officials. For now, that “ruling” is only symbolic, but the judge is optimistic that it will one day carry the force of law in the Islamic state he hopes to see established in the Sinai.
In a second detailed account of violence in the Sinai, Mohannad Sabry in Al Monitor describes an attack on August 28 on the police compound in Sheikh Zuwayed, a town in the northeastern corner of the Sinai. He quotes an unidentified government official as saying:
“The sophistication of the Sheikh Zuwayed attack and the planned distraction while the suicide bomber hit the police compound shows the power and intelligence of the attackers and how effective, or weak, the security operations are,” the employee noted. “The intensity of extraordinary security measures rises with increases in attacks, and residents of north Sinai feel that their suffering under harsh security measures is in vain. They aren’t sympathizing with the police or the military anymore.”
Egypt’s military and police forces continue to suffocate north Sinai with exceptional security measures. Despite moving the start of the nationwide curfew from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., in the border towns east of the Mediterranean port city of al-Arish, its enforcement begins at 4:00 p.m. and includes a shoot-to-kill policy around checkpoints and security facilities.
The Egyptian newspaper, Al Masry Al Youm, has published pictures of the destruction that the attack wreaked on the main street of Sheikh Zuwayed.