Salafis welcome decision to close al-Hussein on Ashoura, imam denies

Salafi figures have welcomed a decision by the Religious Endowments Ministry to close al-Hussein mosque in downtown Cairo to stop Egypt's Shia minority from commemorating Ashoura Day.

Adel Nasser, chairman of the Salafi Dawa, told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the ministry’s decision is "correct," adding: "Egypt is Sunni and will never be Shia." 

Nasser added that closing mosques is “a small act of corruption to prevent a bigger one – that is allowing Shias to practise their rituals, which are unaccepted by Sunnis on their land.”

Salah Abdel Maaboud, a member of Nour Party’s presidential council, said the decision is mainly for security reasons, after the ministry received security warnings concerning the consequences of Shia rituals at al-Hussein.

Abdel Maaboud said that Shia practises do not conform to Egyptian society, adding that their rituals of “chanting and self-flagellation like what happens in Iran and Iraq” will negatively affect society.

He also indicated to security presence outside the mosque as a precautionary measure to prevent any confrontations.

However, Osama Hashem al-Hadidi, Imam of al-Hussein mosque, denied news about the mosque closure at prayers times.

Hadidi added that prayers were held at noon and was followed by a religious lesson. No clashes erupted among worshippers inside the mosque.

Hadidi said that the ministry instructions include preventing rituals that do not conform to the the Islamic Sharia. He added that no rituals violating the instructions took place.

Shia movements and coalitions in Egypt earlier announced plans to gather inside the mosque on Thursday to receive condolences over the death of al-Hussein bin Ali, a Shia tradition known as Ashoura mourning.

The mosque includes a shrine to al-Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Mohamed.

Ashoura 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.

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