Egypt's Sufis to form popular committees for self-defence

Ahram Online , Monday 1 Apr 2013

Popular committees will be formed to protect Sufi shrines and mosques after spate of attacks blamed on 'radical Salafists'

Sheikh Fouad
A fire ripped through the Sheikh Fouad shrine and mosque near Tal in Menoufiya (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Sufi orders in Egypt are to form popular committees to protect their shrines and mosques from "radical Salafists," a Sufi leader has said.

Alaaeddin Abul-Azayem, founder of the Azamiyya Sufi order, made the announcement on Sunday, hours after a Sufi shrine and mosque were torched in the city of Tala in the Nile Delta's Menoufiya governorate.

"As arson attacks against shrines have increased in Egypt, several Sufi orders are planning to take serious steps to form popular committees to protect shrines and mosques," Abul-Azayem told Turkish Anadolu news agency.

Abul-Azayem, who heads one of the largest Sufi orders in Egypt, accused "radical Salafists" of attacking Sufi shrines and festivals.

"If any Sufi shrine is demolished, all of Egypt will not be silenced whether Sufi or not," he added.

A fire ripped through the Sheikh Fouad shrine and mosque in Tala, to the north of Cairo, for almost two hours on Sunday, destroying the contents of the mosque but leaving the structure of the shrine intact.

In April 2011 fire erupted at Sidi Ezzeddin mosque and shrine in the same city. Nobody was charged over the incident but locals blamed radical Islamist groups.

Salafists condemn Sufism and consider Sufi shrines a form of idolatry.

There are estimated to be at least six million Sufis in Egypt.

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