More than 300 people are dead from a terror in attack at a mosque in Egypt, executed by a team of gunmen who took 20 minutes executing victims who appeared for worship services.
Between 25 and 30 terrorists carrying the Isis flag arrived in five SUVs, took positions across from the mosque’s door and windows, and just as the imam was about to deliver his Friday sermon from the pulpit, they opened fire and tossed grenades at the estimated 500 Sufi worshipers inside.
When the violence finally stopped insider Al-Rawda Mosque in Bir al-Abd northern Sinai, Egypt, more than 300 people, including 27 children, had been killed and 128 injured.
As the gunfire rang out and the blasts shook the mosque, worshipers screamed and cried out in pain.
A stampede broke out in the rush toward a door leading to the washrooms. Others tried desperately to force their way out of the windows.
After the initial assault, those still moving or breathing received a bullet to the head or the chest, others tried to force their way out the windows.
Survivors described the scene, with children screaming as they watched parents and older brothers mowed down by gunfire or shredded by the blasts. Some marveled at their narrow escape from a certain death. Some families lost all or most male members in the massacre.
So composed were the terrorists that they methodically checked their victims for any sign of life after the initial round of blazing gunfire. Those still moving or breathing received a bullet to the head or the chest, the witnesses said. When the ambulances arrived they shot at them, repelling them as they got back into their vehicles and fled.
Friday’s assault was Egypt’s deadliest attack by Islamic extremists in the country’s modern history, a grim milestone in a long-running fight against an insurgency led by a local affiliate of the Islamic State group.
Al-Rawdah Mosque was in a sleepy village by the same name in Egypt’s troubled northern Sinai.
Sufism is a strand of Islam that eschews materialism and emphasizes the inward search for God.
Sufi adherents are responsible for some of Islam’s most famous and beloved literature, including the poems of Rumi. Followers promote values such as tolerance and pluralism.
Sufi believers can be Sunni or Shiite, though the majority are Sunni.
They see Sufism less as a sect than as a way of being, a set of beliefs and practices that lead followers closer to God.
“It is nothing more than the spiritual dimension,” Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf told the New York Times. “It is Islam, but we focus on meditation, on chanting sessions, which enable the Muslim to have his or her heart open. The myths people have about Sufis are analogous to the myths people have about Muslims.”
“Opponents of Sufism see the shrines and these living saints as idols,” said Alexander D. Knysh, a University of Michigan scholar on Islam. “Their existence and their worship violates the main principle of Islam, which is the uniqueness of God and the uniqueness of the object of worship.”
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