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HRW: Lynching of Shiites in Egypt follows months of negative rhetoric

Published: Updated:

Human Rights Watch expressed alarm on Thursday over the lynching of four Shiites by a mob led by an Egyptian Salafi Sheikh in Greater Cairo on Sunday.

The rights group said the violence in the village of Abu Musallim comes after months of anti-Shiite rhetoric.

“The brutal sectarian lynching of four Shiites comes after two years of hate speech against the minority religious group, which the Muslim Brotherhood condoned and at times participated in,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at HRW. “This horrific incident in Abu Musallim shows that Shiite can’t even gather in the privacy of their homes to celebrate and heightens fear of persecution among all religious minorities in Egypt.”

The ruling Muslim Brotherhood, which President Mohammed Mursi is affiliated with, were involved in propagating the hate speech, HRW warned, adding the Egyptian government must “recognize that Shiites in Egypt are at risk,” and should “take protective measures to ensure their protection and equal rights.”

Al-Azhar, Egypt’s main center of Islamic learning and authority, also “publicly called for an end to the spread of Shiite Islam in Egypt.”

The police failed to intervene and halt the mob attack on a house of Shiites, who were gathered for a religious feast, they arrived three hours late, HRW said, adding the investigation ordered by Mursi needs to examine their failure.

“Mursi should state unequivocally that Shiites in Egypt have the right to practice their religious beliefs without fear and intimidation, something he has failed to do.”