Egyptian Salafist: "Shia Are More Dangerous Than Naked Women"

Written by  Published by:Shiite News
Published in Middle East
Thursday, 16 May 2013

egyptA statement from a member of Parliament of the ultra-conservative Salafist Nour Party has argued that Shia are “more dangerous than naked women” in comments that have brought on an onslaught of sardonic comments as well as anger from Egypt’s activist community, who have urged the government

to make it clear that discrimination will not be tolerated.

According to a report in al-Ahram – a government-run daily newspaper - members of the committee called on Tourism Minister Hesham Zaazou to discuss the issue in the council, the country’s upper house of parliament which is holding legislative powers until a house of representatives is elected.

The committee, headed by Fathy Shehab El-Din of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), reportedly had an argument on the effects Iranian tourists could have on Egypt.

“The Shias are more dangerous than naked [women],” MP Tharwat Attallah of the Salafist Nour Party said during the meeting instead of doing anything against the enemies of Islam and Muslims such as Zionists and imperialists led by the Israel and the U.S.

“They are a danger to Egypt’s national security; Egyptians could be deceived into [converting to] Shiism, giving it a chance to spread in Egypt,” he added.

Activist Nora Osman said that “this fear of the Shia is ridiculous in this country. We’ve had them traveling here for decades and there was no problem, but now with the rise of the conservatives, it has become one. Doesn’t make sense to me.”

Egypt’s minority Shia Muslim population has long struggled for acceptance in the majority Sunni country. It is not looking to get better for the group, however, with the country’s Grand Mufti warning of the spread of Shiism.

“Propagation of Shiism means spreading rifts and divisions,” said Sheikh Ali Goma’a, Egypt’s former state-appointed Grand Mufti two years ago.

“We advise the wise people among the Shiites against the misplaced propagation of Shiism, which will cause instability and threaten social security,” Goma’a said at a lecture during a week-long forum hosted by the Islamic Research Center, an influential arm of the Sunni world’s most prestigious institution al-Azhar.

In 2012, Shia activists were detained by Egyptian officials in what was seen as another attempt to push the group outside the norms in Egypt. With the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood to the top of the government, Shia in Egypt continue to face hardships in practicing their faith.

The February detentions came less than one month after Egypt’s security closed the Hussein Mosque, arguing that the Sunni majority in Egypt would become enraged over seeing Ashura celebrations in Cairo. The celebrations mark the killing of the Prophet Mohamed’s grandson Imam Hussein.

“It is not new for us Shia in Egypt,” said Ali, 34.

“This is my country, but I feel there is so much pressure on me to be someone I am not and to believe in things that are not my own,” he said.

The reason is simple: he is Shiite. In Egypt, a predominantly Sunni Muslim country, the minority Shia have been arrested and forced into silence.

In 2011, Egyptian police arrested at least four Shia Muslims, including a visiting Australian citizen. They were charged with insulting and denying tenets of religion, judicial sources were reported saying.

Security officials reported that the Shia men were part of a group of 24 that were rounded up last week in Cairo. According to the police, most have been released, but it is still unclear how many remain behind bars.

“This is the struggle we face on a daily basis and have been forced to live in silence and fear of what the police would do if they found out we were Shia,” Ali continued.

The Australian man’s family alerted the Australian authorities after Safaa al-Awadi, 44, did not return to Perth when scheduled.

He was freed one month later after facing charges of blasphemy.

Seven other Shiites have been in detention since mid-2009 and charged with “forming a group trying to spread Shi’ite ideology that harms the Islamic religion.”

In 2010, Egypt’s Minister of Religious Endowments, Mahmoud Hamdy Zaqzouq, said in statements during a meeting with the Grand Mufti of Mount Lebanon, Sheikh Mohamed Ali Jouzo, that Egypt has “no mosques belonging to any religious or sectarian schools.” He added that there are no Shia Mosques in Egypt.

The minister stressed that all mosques and religious institutions that number some 104,000 are subject to full supervision of the Ministry of Religious Endowments.

Followers of Shia doctrine believe the Prophet Mohamed should have been succeeded by his cousin Ali rather than his companion Abu Bakr, who is considered the first Imam. Ali was the fourth in traditional Sunni belief.

Making matters difficult in Egypt is that Sunnis believe any suggestion that Abu Bakr was not the rightful successor is akin to blasphemy.

“We live under these conditions every day and most of the time I keep my mouth shut, but for our government to insist that we don’t exist is insulting and wrong,” added Ali.

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