Worshippers pack Egyptian mosque a week after massacre
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Worshippers pack Egyptian mosque a week after massacre

North Sinai religious leaders condemn jihadist terrorists who killed more than 300 as 'cowardly cancer,' 'brothers of devils'

  • Egyptians listen to a Muslim cleric at the Al-Hussein mosque in Cairo during celebrations of the birthday of Islam's Prophet Mohammed, known in Arabic as "al-Mawlid al-Nabawi", on December 1, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI)
    Egyptians listen to a Muslim cleric at the Al-Hussein mosque in Cairo during celebrations of the birthday of Islam's Prophet Mohammed, known in Arabic as "al-Mawlid al-Nabawi", on December 1, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI)
  • Egyptian Muslims pray in front of the shrine of Al-Hussein, Islam's Prophet Mohammed's grandson, at the Al-Hussein mosque in Cairo during celebrations of the birthday of Prophet Mohammed, known in Arabic as "al-Mawlid al-Nabawi", on December 1, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI)
    Egyptian Muslims pray in front of the shrine of Al-Hussein, Islam's Prophet Mohammed's grandson, at the Al-Hussein mosque in Cairo during celebrations of the birthday of Prophet Mohammed, known in Arabic as "al-Mawlid al-Nabawi", on December 1, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI)
  • Egyptian Muslims visit the shrine of Al-Hussein, Islam's Prophet Mohammed's grandson, at the Al-Hussein mosque in Cairo during celebrations of the birthday of Prophet Mohammed, known in Arabic as "al-Mawlid al-Nabawi", on December 1, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI)
    Egyptian Muslims visit the shrine of Al-Hussein, Islam's Prophet Mohammed's grandson, at the Al-Hussein mosque in Cairo during celebrations of the birthday of Prophet Mohammed, known in Arabic as "al-Mawlid al-Nabawi", on December 1, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI)
  • An Egyptian Muslim girl stands next to the shrine of Al-Hussein, Islam's Prophet Mohammed's grandson, at the Al-Hussein mosque in Cairo during celebrations of the birthday of Prophet Mohammed, known in Arabic as "al-Mawlid al-Nabawi", on December 1, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI)
    An Egyptian Muslim girl stands next to the shrine of Al-Hussein, Islam's Prophet Mohammed's grandson, at the Al-Hussein mosque in Cairo during celebrations of the birthday of Prophet Mohammed, known in Arabic as "al-Mawlid al-Nabawi", on December 1, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / KHALED DESOUKI)

CAIRO, Egypt — Dozens of Muslims, including religious and army leaders, packed an Egyptian mosque for Friday prayers a week after jihadist gunmen massacred more than 300 people in the house of worship.

The mosque in Rawda village in North Sinai had been cleaned and renovated following the massacre by suspected Islamic State group terrorists in time for the weekly Friday prayer.

Egypt’s Second Field Army chief, Khaled Mogawer, which is fighting IS in Sinai, was 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.

The cleric who gave the prayer sermon tried to console the relatives of the victims, saying the dead were now in paradise, while condemning the gunmen as the “brothers of devils.”

“God wanted to take martyrs from you. Why, because God loves you,” said the preacher Abdel Fattal al-Awari.

He recounted a saying by the Prophet Mohamed who, when asked whom God tests the most, responded: “The prophets, followed by the most exemplary.”

Discarded shoes of victims remain outside Al-Rawda Mosque in Bir al-Abd northern Sinai, Egypt. a day after attackers killed hundreds of worshipers, on November 25, 2017. (AP Photo)

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

Tayeb later gave a speech in which he described the attackers as “cowardly cancer.”

IS in Egypt had killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers in attacks, and since last year more than 100 Christians in church bombings and shootings.

They had warned the mosque, which is associated with Sufis the jihadists call heretical, to stop holding mystical rites.

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

The Rawda mosque, roughly 40 kilometers west of el-Arish in Egypt’s Sinai, after a gun and bombing terror attack, on November 24, 2017. (AFP/Stringer)

Analysts and officials say IS, responsible for atrocities around the world, many not claim responsibility following the backlash even from jihadists.

Despite being a community in mourning, hundreds of Sufis in Cairo later Friday celebrated the birth of the Prophet Mohammad, in a Mawlid.

Mawlids mark the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, and those of the sect’s saints. IS follows the puritan Salafi theology and views the practice as an unlawful innovation in Islam.

Hundreds of men and veiled women prayed and chanted invocations in front of the mausoleum at the Al-Hussein mosque in the capital.

Egyptians walk past bodies following a gun and bombing attack at the Rawdah mosque, roughly 40 kilometers west of the North Sinai capital of El-Arish, on November 24, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / STRINGER)

Security was tight, with electronic gates at the street leading to the mosque and also at its entrance.

Many plain-clothed police were also deployed in the area to ensure security.

“Those who want to create differences between Sufis and Sunnis want to sow discord,” said one celebrant.

The Mawlid is celebrated every year in Egypt and in many Muslim countries. A procession is also often held but was cancelled this year in Cairo for security reasons after last Friday’s attack.

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