It is time for France to add combating radicalism to combating terrorism as a mutual interest with Egypt

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France has been maintaining a policy of commercial opportunities, security, and migration concerns in relation to Egypt since 2011. According to the Egyptian State Information Service, the value of trade between Egypt and France amounts to 2.6 billion euros annually, and France is Egypt’s sixth largest importer. In 2014 Egypt started becoming France’s number one weapons importer by the signing a contract to buy four Gowind corvettes at a value of about €1 billion, this was followed in February 2015 by Egypt becoming the first export buyer of the Dassault Rafale with an order of 24 aircraft. This deal in turn was followed by a purchase of a FREMM (Frégate Européenne Multi-Missions) multipurpose frigate, then Egypt signed a deal for the sale of two French Mistral helicopter carriers and a military satellite, noting that in just 18 months, Egypt ordered roughly US $8 billion worth of French weapons and services. President Francois Hollande attended the inauguration of the new Suez Canal in 2015 and Reuters quoted Jean-Yves Le Drian ex French minister of defense and current minister of foreign affairs in June, 2017 saying: ““Egypt is the central element for regional stability and when it sways the whole region sways.”

With President Emmanuel Macron in office Libya became a priority for France, furthermore, Egyptian and French efforts resulted in the signing of the Paris cease fire agreement between the Libyan Army led by General Khalifa Haftar and UN-backed prime
minister, Fayez al-Sarraj. Khalifa Haftar has been backed by Egypt and Emirates for his campaign on jihadists in Libya. In July 2016 France 24 published a report saying that with the «Balkan route» via Turkey officially closed, and growing instability in Libya, people smugglers have quickly adapted to a new route taking migrants from the Egyptian coast, where many Syrians have temporarily sought refuge, across the Mediterranean. This of course has been a major concern that the French and European governments are seeking solutions to with the Egyptian government.

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The question now is arms sales, migration control, trade and the Libya coordination the only scope Egypt and France can find common interests in? I believe not. There is a very important front that I see overlooked in current diplomatic relations between the two countries, especially that France is paying a heavy price internally represented in the loss of lives of French citizens to Islamic terrorism in numerous ongoing attacks. In 2016 and 2017 alone the following attacks took place in France; January 2016 a Jihadi rammed his car twice into 4 soldiers protecting a mosque in Valence and another jihadist wearing a fake explosive belt attacked police officers in the Goutte d’Or district in Paris with a meat cleaver, while shouting «Allahu Akbar». June 2016 a police officer and his wife, a police secretary, were stabbed to death in their home in Magnanville by a jihadist. July 2016, a 19-ton cargo truck was deliberately driven into crowds celebrating Bastille Day on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. July 2016, an Islamist staying in a holiday resort, in Garda-Colombe, attacked a family of four with a kitchen knife. He told prosecutors he was offended by their lack of suitable clothing. July 2016 two terrorists attacked a church during a mass, killing an 86-year- old priest. August 2016 a rabbi was stabbed in Strasbourg by a man reportedly shouting Allahu Akbar. August 2016 a policeman was wounded in a melee attack in a police station. The assailant was arrested by other policemen. He tried to kill the policeman because «It represents France.” September 2016, a 29-year- old attacker injured a nurse and the police were called to the scene, upon which a policewoman was seriously injured. September 2016, a prisoner in a radicalization prevention unit wounded two prison officers.

The detainee first assaulted a supervisor with an artisanal weapon. A second supervisor, posted at the entrance to the exercise yard, was also injured when he tried to help his colleague. September 2016 two Islamists attacked an author and his son, with
blows to the head and stomach. The author, who wrote a book on ‹Jihad›, lost consciousness. September 2016 a terror raid took place in Essonne. A suspect attacked a police officer with a machete and was apprehended by his colleagues. February 2017 a
soldier near the Louvre museum opened fire on a man who attempted to enter the museum with a machete. The man was shouting «Allahu akbar» and injured the soldier›s scalp. March 2017 a policeman was shot and injured in the Paris suburb of Garges-les-
Gonesse by an attacker who was later shot dead at Orly Airport near Paris after trying to grab a soldier’s firearm. April 2017 an Islamist opened fire on police officers on the Champs-Elysees. June 2017 an Algerian islamist attacked a police officer with a
hammer in front of Notre-Dame de Paris. He was shot by a second policeman and arrested. He claimed to be a «soldier of the caliphate.” June 2017 a jihadist rammed his car into a police car. He was killed and the Department of Interior stated that explosives, assault rifle and handguns have been found in his car. August 2017 a man rammed his car into soldiers near their barracks outside Paris. He was arrested on the highway after a shootout. October 2017 a man stabbed two women at Marseille train station. Attacker was shot dead. He was heard shouting ‹Allahu Ackbar›. All these attacks had one common element which is hate. Left wing politicians in France have been trying to explain this hate by lack of education, lack of integration and lack of wealth, but Muslims who grew up facing the same problem in Egypt like president Sisi have another explanation, he calls it evil ideology and deviated religious teachings. Maybe it is time for the French government led by president Macron to listen to him and to his call for an Islamic religious reform. Maybe it is time for France and Egypt to join efforts to face this evil ideology rather than being politically correct about it. Maybe France is eliminating tolerance by tolerating those who don’t tolerate others and maybe France is also destroying diversity by accepting those who ideologically don’t accept others.

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