Omar Makram imam says he has survived 4 assassination attempts

The imam of the Omar Makram Mosque off Tahrir Square said Friday that an unknown assailant tried to shoot him dead seven days ago in what was the fourth attempt on his life since the 25 January revolution began last year.

Mazhar Shaheen, a prominent imam known for giving Friday prayer sermons at Tahrir protests, told the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper three bullets were fired at him while he left his mosque, but they struck a nearby lamppost.

“And I expect the next [assassination] attempt will succeed,” he said, “so I have written my will and I always leave my house expecting it to be the last time.”

Shaheen said the first assassination attempt was on 3 February last year, when he found a large explosive device in one of the closets of his mosque. The second, he said, occurred the next day, when a masked gunman stormed the mosque looking to kill Shaheen. “But he was arrested,” Shaheen added.

“The third attempt was on 11 February 2011, which was the Friday that [former President Hosni] Mubarak stepped down,” he recounted. “That day I received a direct warning from a sensitive security body not to deliver the Friday prayer sermon. I received direct threats that orders had been issued to liquidate whoever delivered the Friday prayer sermon. … But I did not care, and after the sermon ended, I found some people approaching me in a suspicious manner in the crowd, but the Tahrir youth saved me.”

He added: “I received direct murder threats on 27 May of last year, the day dubbed the [Second Friday of Anger].”

Shaheen said he considers the recent attacks on a number of MPs and political figures “orchestrated incidents” and is not surprised by them.

“I have spoken about [such incidents] for over three months, and I said we are entering a phase of political assassinations. This scenario started with tarnishing the revolution, then the symbols of the revolution, and all that is related to it, then mistrusting and accusing each other of treason. I expect a wave of assassinations of [political] leaders and figures during the next few months, and that is very dangerous,” Shaheen said.

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