Posted by: becketfund | April 2, 2009

Egypt: Baha’i Villagers Attacked in Homes

CAIRO – Dozens of Muslim villagers have attacked the homes of members of the minority Baha’i religion in southern Egypt, hurling firebombs and denouncing them as “enemies of God,” human rights groups said April 2, the AP reported on April 2.  The attacks began March 31 after a prominent Egyptian media commentator denounced a Baha’i activist in a television appearance as an “apostate” and called for her to be killed. After five days of violence, calm returned Wednesday to the village of Shouraniya, located about 215 miles south of Cairo. No one was injured in the attacks.  The village’s 15 Baha’i residents were forced to leave, and police have prevented them from returning, rights groups said.  Egypt’s Interior Ministry confirmed the attacks and said police have made arrests.  But it denied that police stopped the Baha’i residents from returning to their village.  “This is just an incident, and we are investigating,” ministry spokesman Gen. Hamdi Abdel-Karim said. He declined to provide more details.  During the violence, the attackers shouted “No God but Allah” and “Baha’is are enemies of Allah” as they hurled stones through windows, a group of six Egyptian human rights organizations said in a joint statement. On Tuesday, assailants also threw fire bombs, damaging five homes, they said.  In Egypt, where the majority of the country’s nearly 80 million people are Sunni Muslim, the Baha’i faith is not recognized as an official religion. The head of Al-Azhar, Egypt’s dominant religious authority, has also declared it a “sacrilegious dogma.”

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