Amnesty International has warned of rising sectarian violence against Egypt’s Shia Muslims after Sunday's mob killing in Giza.
The attack took place, allegedly led by Salafist sheikhs, in the village of Zawyat Abu Musalam. Hundreds of people surrounded the house of a local Shia leader after hearing he was hosting a religious gathering. The mob then beat him and his guests and set the house on fire, killing four.
“Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi must urgently tackle the unprecedented level of sectarian violence against Shia Muslims and ensure they are protected from further attacks,” Amnesty’s statement read.
Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International, demanded Egyptian authorities immediately order an investigation into the killings and “send a clear message that carrying out attacks and inciting violence against Shia Muslims will not be tolerated.”
Sahraoui criticised the police's failure to stop the killings and questioned whether hate speech played a role in inciting the mob.
Amnesty said eyewitness accounts show police officers and members of the Central Security Forces were present at the scene but failed to rescue the victims.
Accounts also allege that Salafist and other Islamist groups have been inciting hatred and violence against Shia over the past few weeks, including during Friday sermons and by distributing pamphlets calling for their expulsion from the area, the report stated.
Amnesty also mentioned that during a conference on 16 June attended by President Morsi in support of the Syrian revolution several prominent Sunni sheikhs, including Sheikh Mohamed Hassan, used sectarian speech against Shias, and Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya’s Mohamed Abdel-Maqsoud called them “unclean.”
“By not disassociating himself and his government from the hatred and incitement against Shias expressed during an event at which he was a speaker, President Morsi failed to signal that attacks against Shia Muslims will not be tolerated,” Sahraoui said in a press statement.
“It is deeply troubling to think of security forces standing still in the face of such gruesome violence. Only political will can stop this pattern of inaction during sectarian violence,” she added.
President Morsi and Islamist parties have come under fire since the killings on Sunday, which many blame on sectarian hate speech.
Egyptians against Religious Discrimination, an independent group fighting sectarianism in Egypt, on Monday denounced what it described as a series of sectarian crimes under Muslim Brotherhood rule.