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The Shiite Scare in Egypt

Reporting from Cairo, Holly Dagres writes that Egyptian Shiites are increasingly being targeted for persecution by ultraconservative Salafists as well as by the government.
Muslims visit the Hussein shrine at the Hussein mosque after Friday prayers in Old Cairo June 15, 2012. Activists called for a protest on Friday and Islamists warned that the gains of the revolt that toppled Hosni Mubarak could be wiped out after Egypt's supreme court dissolved parliament and ruled to keep his last premier in this weekend's presidential race. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh  (EGYPT - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS RELIGION) - RTR33NP2

“No to Iranian tourism in Egypt.” “We reject the existence of Iranian Shiites in Egypt.” “Islam has no Shiites.” These sentiments were among the messages on signs held by some of the several dozen Salafis protesting in front of Al-Azhar University against an Iranian official visiting Cairo to attend a Sufi conference commemorating the birthday of Aisha, the wife of the Prophet Muhammad. Some Egyptian newspapers reported that the Salafis stormed the conference, causing it to end earlier than expected.

In November 2012, Shiites had been prevented from entering Cairo's al-Hussein Mosque to commemorate Ashoura, the martyrdom of the prophet’s grandson Hussein at Karbala. The decision was made after a group of Salafi and Sunni movements filed a petition to bar Shiites from entering the mosque. Similarly, in October 2011, Egyptian authorities denied the registration of the Shiite Tahrir Party because it was “based on religious principles,” even though other parties with religious affiliations — for example, the Freedom and Justice Party (Muslim Brotherhood) and al-Nour Party (Salafists) — were not only allowed to register, but also to participate in elections.

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