Egypt Independent

Politician wants asylum for Egyptian Shias in Netherlands

An Egyptian Shia

politician has said he filed a request with the Dutch government to grant asylum to Egyptian Shias, citing reports alleging that the Netherlands had started granting asylum to Copts.

Speaking to Al-Masry Al-Youm, Bahaa Anwar Mohamed, board member of the Ghad al-Thawra Party and a spokesperson for Egyptian Shias, said he filed the request due to "discrimination Shias have been suffering in Egypt, as well as their dismissal from public and private sector jobs, the frequent death threats they receive, and their exclusion from discussions around the country's anticipated constitution.”

"The number of Shias in Egypt stands at 4 million, most of whom are afraid to declare their religious beliefs for fear of oppression or persecution," he said.

Shias were shunned from political and social life throughout the 30-year rule of ousted President Hosni Mubarak. There are no official statistics on the number of Shias in Egypt, but experts on the country’s religious minorities estimate their number between 50,000 and 80,000, a relatively small proportion of the estimated 85 million total population.  Some were banned from traveling abroad and repeatedly arrested by security services under Mubarak’s regime.

On Sunday, the Dutch Embassy in Cairo denied local press reports about a decision by the Netherlands parliament to grant Egyptian Copts asylum. The embassy said a government decision had been adopted to change asylum rules for Egyptian Copts living in the Netherlands.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm