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Extremism Under Sisi

His Repressive Policies Have Worsened the Problem

EgyptianPresident Abdel Fattah el-Sisi walks to attend a meeting with Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir (unseen) in Cairo, Egypt, October 2016. Amr Abdallah Dalsh / REUTERS

Anyone seeking evidence of creeping Islamist radicalization in Egypt under President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s repressive regime need look no further than the bombing of the Coptic Orthodox church in Cairo on December 10. The attack, for which the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) claimed responsibility, killed 25 and wounded around 50. The suspected suicide bomber, 22-year-old Mahmoud Shafiq Mohamed Moustafa, had been arrested in 2014 by Egypt’s security forces when he and one of his classmates were passing by a protest for the opposition. He was tortured and spent a year in prison without being charged with any real crimes, according to one of his lawyers. Moustafa’s path to radicalization reveals the ease with which extremists capitalize on Sisi’s repressive policies to draw support from young Egyptians.

Although political and social scientists have extensively debated the causality between state repression and radicalization, there is ample evidence that the

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