CAIRO: An Al-Azhar convoy of doctor and preachers left to North Sinai Wednesday with 10 tons of food and 800 blankets to be present in areas where extremist ideologies spread, the institution announced.
The convoy includes three doctors who will examine patients for free, as well as four preachers. The cities targeted are Sheikh Zuwayed, Rafah and Arish, according to an Al-Azhar Facebook statement.
North Sinai has been the site of terrorist attacks by Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM,) and the government has responded with heightened security campaigns. A buffer zone of one kilometer has been evacuated along the borders with the Gaza Strip to eradicate smuggling through hundreds of tunnels under the frontiers. The buffer zone was announced after an attack on Egyptian soldiers in Arish that killed 31, and injured dozens more.
Thousands of locals evacuated have been compensated by the government, but unverified pictures surfaced on social media, in which ABM members appear to hand out cash to civilians affected by military operations in the area.
In December, Al-Azhar announced it would establish an Islamic mission center (Da’wah) in Kerdasa, a blue-collar town in Giza and a stronghold of the Muslim Brotherhood, where some of the most violent protests took in the aftermath of the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.