- Middle East/North Africa
A spokesperson for the Salafi movement in Alexandria has said that the religious minority of Baha’is poses a threat to Egypt's national security.
Abdel Moneim al-Shahat, a prominent Salafi leader and former parliamentary candidate, said that the state should move to protect itself from those who claim that the Baha'i faith is a religion. Shahat has previously claimed that watching and playing football is prohibited under Islam, in the wake of violence following a Port Said football match.
"We will prosecute the Bahai's on charge of treason," Shahat said, in a telephone call with al-Haqiqa (The Truth) TV program host Wael al-Ibrashy on Dream 2 channel. "We as Salafis refuse to deal with Baha'is, because they do not exist by virtue of their faith.”
According to Shahat, Bahai’s are not entitled to rights under Islam because they do not belong and are not recognized by the religion, and any new constitution should not include an amendment protecting their rights. He cited an Al-Azhar ruling that said Baha’is are not Muslims.
Baha'is, who number between 500 and 2,000 in Egypt, call their faith's 19th-century founder, Bahaa, a prophet -- sacrilege to Muslims who believe Mohamed to be God's final messenger.
Rights activists say Baha'is face systematic discrimination in the conservative Arab country, which does not officially recognize the faith. In 2008, Baha'is won the right to obtain government identity papers so long as they omit any reference to their faith.