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Egyptian bishop Mouneer Anis critical of British tourist withdrawal after Sinai crash

13 November 2015

AP

In mourning: an Orthodox priest looks on as a Russian jet brings back bodies of victims from the Sharm el-Sheikh air crash, at Pulkovo airport, in Russia, on Friday

In mourning: an Orthodox priest looks on as a Russian jet brings back bodies of victims from the Sharm el-Sheikh air crash, at Pulkovo airport, in Rus...

THE President-Bishop of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Archbishop Mouneer Anis, has criticised the British Government for ordering its citizens to leave Red Sea resorts after a Russian airliner crashed over Sinai on 31 October.

He said that his country deserved support, not punishment, and that the result would be yet more unemployment in Egypt’s vital tourism industry.

All 224 people on board the flight from Sharm el-Sheikh to Moscow were killed. The crash was almost certainly caused by a bomb exploding in a baggage hold.

Archbishop Anis said on Tuesday that Egypt’s economy was already struggling after the revolutions in 2011 and 2013, and that the subsequent drop in tourism had had a profound effect. "In this context," he said, "the news of the fall of the Russian aircraft came as a shock to all of us.

"We were saddened for those who lost their lives, and for their families. We were shocked, also, that the British Government, instead of supporting Egypt in its fight against terrorism, decided to withdraw all British from Egypt."

He pointed out that, after the London bombings in July 2005, "no country evacuated its tourists from Britain," and the international community "stood by Britain".

Over the past two years, Archbishop Anis said, Egypt had been countering terrorism, and had made good progress. Terrorism, however, was still being confronted in the northern Sinai.

"One can imagine," he said, "how fighting terrorism drains the financial resources of the country, and, sadly, results in the loss of civilians, policemen, and army soldiers.

"Now it is sad to see millions of young Egyptians losing their jobs in tourism after this decision [by Britain], which led to a similar decision from Russia. In his supporting letter to me, Archbishop Justin Welby said that Egypt is ‘unjustly suffering’."

Archbishop Anis said that he hoped that the British Government would "co-operate more in order to improve airports security, knowing that fighting terrorism is very difficult for all governments of the world."

He concluded: "My prayer is to see the international community working together in fighting terrorism. This will also help in reducing the numbers of refugees."

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