Worshippers pack Egyptian mosque one week after massacre

Dozens of Muslims, including religious and army leaders, packed an Egyptian mosque for Friday prayers a week after extremist gunmen massacred more than 300 people in the house of worship, AFP reported Friday (December 1st).

The mosque in Rawda village in North Sinai had been cleaned and renovated following the massacre by suspected "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) gunmen in time for the weekly Friday prayer.

The head of Egypt's Second Field Army Khaled Mogawer, which is fighting ISIS in Sinai, could be seen in live footage aired on state television, sitting between the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayeb and the country's mufti Shawqi Allam.

Worshippers could be seen spilling out of the mosque into its plaza.

Al-Tayeb later gave a speech in which he described the attackers as "cowardly cancer".

Egyptian authorities tightened security measures at key locations surrounding the mosque ahead of the Friday prayers to secure the worshippers, Egypt's Ahram Online reported.

ISIS in Egypt had warned the mosque, which is associated with Sufis the extremists call heretical, to stop holding mystical rites.

Witnesses and authorities had said the attackers were flying ISIS's black banner, but the group has yet to claim the massacre decried even by its supporters.

Analysts and officials say ISIS, responsible for atrocities around the world, may not claim responsibility following the backlash even from extremists.

On Wednesday, President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi ordered the Egyptian army and police forces to restore stability and security in the Sinai Peninsula within three months using "utmost force."

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The black terrorism which committed the most horrible crime against humanity must be defeated now and it must go without return after it fell in a great way. It won’t stand on its feet any more, as the eyes of those tyrants have lost sight and targeted a house of worship. They killed worshippers and spilled their blood although they came for the noblest of goals, which is to worship God, the One and Powerful, and to perform one of His rites, which is to perform Friday prayers. Terrorism has gone bankrupt and its state has disappeared. The best response was what happened the following Friday when Muslim leaders and scholars, headed by the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, prayed there.