Concerns Grow Over Protections for Religious Minorities in Egypt After Prolonged Spell of Violence

The Egyptian Coalition for Minorities (ECM) has called on the Egyptian state to ensure the freedom for all Egyptians to practice their religion and beliefs.

The coalition expressed its "deep dissatisfaction" with the government's decision to close the Hussein Mosque today on the commemoration of the death of Imam Hussein bin Ali, one of the four grand imams of Shiite Muslim community in order to prevent Shiite rituals in celebration of Ashura in a statement issued today.

ECM said this is a "clear violation" of the right to religious worship, and an actual application of Article 219 on the interpretation of Islamic Sharia in the disabled Constitution of 2012. Adding that such action shed light on the extent of the influence of the Wahhabi current on official decisions issued by the government.

"Such manifestations of yielding to a particular current and restriction of the fundamental rights of Egyptian citizens raise concerns on human rights in Egypt," the coalition stated.

EMC said that it is "unacceptable" to restrict the freedom of citizens who want to hold their religious rites, and to arrest a Shiite citizen and charge him with insulting the [Prophets'] companions during celebrating the anniversary of Ashura adding that this "is another violation added to the list of violations against freedoms in Egypt after two revolutions."

"The Egyptian Coalition for Minorities reminds the state of its international obligations, specifically Article Eighteen of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which prohibits prejudicing the right of humans to profess any belief or religion of their choice, and express and practice their own religion, whether they practice this alone or with a group, publicly or in private," the statement read.

The coalition also recommended the deletion of any discriminatory articles from the constitution that would differentiate between citizens on the basis of race, sex, religion, color, social status or political affiliation.

"The Shiites of Egypt have the right to organize their own religious ceremonies today in the Al-Hussein Mosque, and the incitement speech released by Al-Azhar and the Salafis against them is a crime," said Ishak Ibrahim, a researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights via his Twitter account Thursday.

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