Shia leader Salem al-Sabbagh said Egypt’s Shia minority community would freely commemorate Ashoura in al-Hussein mosque on Thursday, and would not allow the Salafis to prevent them from the event.
“Salafis are waging a campaign against the Shias,” Sabbagh told Al-Masry Al-Youm, pointing out that such Salafi campaigns aim to “confuse the government.”
The Shia leader added that the decision of Endowment Minister Mohamed Mokhtar to prevent Shia celebrations came “to prevent Salafis from causing a strife in the community.”
He noted that they’re going to commemorate the event by visiting the mosque individually and praying, but to continue the rest of the rituals at home.
He vowed that Shias would be quiet and would keep the sanctity of the mosque as to stop “the strife the Salafis want to ignite.”
The Egyptian Shia community have demanded greater protections in the country’s new constitution expected to go to public referendum by the end of the year, particularly more emphasis on freedom of religion as well as protection from discrimination and hate speech.
Ashura is the biggest event in the Shia Muslim calendar, and includes chanting and self-flagellation to commemorate Hussein, Prophet Mohamed’s grandson who died in the battle of Karbala in Iraq in the year 680. The vast majority of Egyptian Muslims follow the Sunni denomination.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm