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Egypt's Islamists under fire over Shia mob killings

Salafist Nour Party condemns recent violence but warns against 'insulting and demonising' figures revered by Sunni Muslims

Ayat Al-Tawy , Monday 24 Jun 2013
Mob attacks Shias in their home in Egypt's Giza district leaving 4 killed
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Views: 10736

Giza prosecutors have ordered the arrest of 15 people implicated in the murder of four Egyptian Shias in attack by Sunni Muslims in a Giza village on Sunday, an incident which has heightened sectarian tensions in an already polarised country.

Prosecutors have discovered the identities of some perpetrators of the vigilante murders, a security source told state news agency MENA.

Four Egyptian Shia Muslims were killed in a mob attack, allegedly led by Salafist sheikhs, in the town of Zawyat Abu Musalam in Giza governorate on Sunday afternoon.

Residents surrounded a house of a prominent Shia local after being informed he was hosting a religious gathering, beating the guests and setting the house on fire, according to reports.

Head of the Shia Current in Egypt, Mohamed Ghoneim, condemned the murders, which he described as "lamentable" and "traumatic."

In a phone-in with Dream satellite TV channel on Monday, the Shia leader blamed the incident on what he perceived as the growing extremism of religious channels and pragmatic "political calculations."

He went on to cite what he sees as attempts by the Muslim Brotherhood, the group from which President Morsi hails, to 'please' Salafists, in order to win their backing in advance of planned anti-government protests on 30 June.

Ghoneim went on to ask for international protection for Shias in Egypt, vowing to launch a campaign to this end.

Inflammatory anti-Shia rhetoric by some hardline Islamist clerics has been on the rise recently, apparently as a result of the growing conflict in Syria, as well as a recent thaw in Egypt-Iran ties.

There is no official tally of the number of Shia Muslims in Egypt. Analysts believe adherents to the Shia faith in Egypt number between 500,000 and one million.

While some critics blame the Salafist-oriented Nour Party for igniting anti-Shia sentiment, the party has rejected any suggestion of involvement.

"We have warned the regime about looming sectarian friction, amid acts of insulting and demonising the Sahabah [the companions of the Prophet Mohamed] which will shock the fabric of Egyptian society, but it paid no heed," party spokesman Nader Bakkar said via Twitter late on Sunday.

Dogmatic divisions between Shia and Sunni Muslims include differences over the place of the Prophet Mohamed’s companions with each side favouring some over others.

Bakkar said, however, that his party "does not accept the shedding of Egyptians' blood and dragging them in such an appalling way."

The hardline group, as well as its ideological parent organisation the Salafist Call, has been largely blamed for the rising extremist rhetoric against Shia Muslims. Posters bearing the logo of both the Salafist Call and the Nour Party have recently appeared in a number of Egyptian cities demonising the sect and its followers.

Salafist parliamentarians have also expressed misgivings over the restoration of diplomatic ties with Shia-majority Iran, and plans to encourage Iranian tourists to visit Egypt. One MP in May went as far as branding Shiites "more dangerous than naked women" and a threat to national security.

The Salafist Call, however, dismissed on Monday attempts to link it to the incident, asserting its precept severely condemning violence.

Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood was also quick in denouncing the killing.

"Bloodletting of Egyptians is prohibited, a Muslim or Christian...a Sunni or Shia, it is prohibited," said Essam El-Erian, deputy head of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party in a statement posted on his Facebook page.

Whoever takes part in inciting murder or promoting hate speech is taking part in a heinous crime, he added.

President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood have recently thrown their weight behind a call for jihad in Syria by fellow Sunni Islamists across the Middle East.

The already embattled president has been censured by his opponents for failing to curb sectarian utterances against Shia Muslims made by his Islamist backers at a Syria solidarity conference last week, during which he announced that Egypt would cut diplomatic ties with Damascus.

The president’s office said in a Monday statement in response to the mob killings that "the state will not be lenient with anyone who tampers with Egypt's security or the unity of its people."

Prime Minister Hisham Qandil also condemned the incident as contradicting all "religious doctrines."

The Egyptians against Religious Discrimination, an independent group fighting religious sectarianism in Egypt, denounced in its statement on Monday what it described as a series of sectarian crimes under the Muslim Brotherhood's rule.

Morsi’s rule “opened the door for sectarian strife between Egyptians,” claimed the statement.

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27-06-2013 05:00pm
Islam at work
The greatest religion practiced by the worst people in the world.
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25-06-2013 03:21pm
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25-06-2013 06:35pm
they did the same in bangladesh,was the only difference,that there waere no cameras availlable for you? this religion has a deeeep problem,which is founded in the late verses of the khoran itself

Farrukh Sajjad
25-06-2013 09:15am
Egyptian Muslims beware of takfeeri terrorists
I warn the revolutionary nation of Egypt to beware of Salafist/Takfeeri terrorists. They have made the peaceful nation of Pakistan as a living hell. Firstly they stated targetting shias, then the sunni Muslim, who differed with their interpeation of religion and now at arndom they commit suicide attacks kilkling innocent students, citizens, security personnel and what not. While the Salafis have every right to hold their religious interpetation close to their heart and also propogate it but they should not enforce it at the point of sword. It is very strange that leaders of Nour Part are in gact justifying these henious crimes by saying that as shias are involved in insulting companions of prophets their murder is perfectly right. I also wonder that why they are so afraid of Irani tourists when the tourist from every country even Israel are allowed in Egypt. Are they afraid of revolutionary ideology of Iraninans for which bthey have no reply. Let me make it clear, shias do not insult companions of prophets, however they have political differences with them. Having difference does not mean insulting anybody. Even in todays's world many persons are opposed to the Government of day or oppose the manner in which the Government is elected. It does not mean that they are subjected to sword. Muslims should realize that doctrinal difference between Muslims exist right from the day when the Holy Prophet passed away from this world and they still exist. It is the need of hour that Muslims should present a bright face of Islam by building tolerant societies in their countries. The salafists and their extremist accomplices are bent upon disfiguring the true face of Islam and try to portray it as a religion of extremists and bigoted people, so that people should stop attracting towards Islam. I sincirely hope that honorable nation of Egypt will rise against this tide of extremism financed by Saudi petro dollars and in cline with American and Israeli interests.
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Hanin Abou Salem
24-06-2013 10:00pm
United we stand divided we fall
Peace be upon you, Every single Muslim must realize that Allah is our Supreme leader, prophet Mohhamad(PBUH) is our role model and the Quran should be our constitution we will truely be protected from hell on this earth and beyond. United we stand divided we fall, Hanin Abou Salem Political Analyst and researcher
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Sam Enslow
24-06-2013 06:38pm
Under whose authority?
How does a mere human determine if God, religion, or His Prophet (PBUH) have been insulted or demonized? I was always under the impression that was God's job and that Muslims as individuals will answer to God (and God alone) for their actions while of Earth. Is it not haram to tell another their lifestyle is not pleasing to God? Accepting that the Holy Koran is the revealed Word of God and perfect, it is read by very imperfect human eyes. Since in Islam there are only about five humans said to have been perfect, I find it surprising that so many Islamists believe they fit this category. Unless one is prefect, he can be questioned. I hope they have not fallen into the error of equating their emotions and reasoning with God's. In fact, I have been told it is haram to assign human emotions to God.
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Mona Jakobi
25-06-2013 01:39am
history shows
that human beings - no matter which religion - always felt superior to other religious groups. I never understood and - probably never will - the reason for that. the only explanation for this behavior seems to be getting power and therefor being perfect in the eyes of God. but who dares to say that he is perfect? who can know what is perfect in the eyes of god? why do some religious groups claim to know the one and only truth? to me it is simply arrogance which is not at all what human beings are all religions!

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