Egypt’s top Islamic cleric denounced Shi’ite houses of worship, telling Iran’s envoy in Cairo that the husseiniyas promoted “instability.”
Ahmed al-Tayyeb, the imam of al-Azhar institute, met with the envoy a day after scholars from al-Azhar and Islamist groups issued a statement condemning what they said were attempts to spread Shiism in Egypt.
Shiites are estimated as a tiny fraction of Egypt’s population of 82-million, most of them Sunni Muslim.
Tayyeb told the envoy that al-Azhar “rejected any husseiniya in Egypt because of their negative effects in destabilizing the country and fracturing unity and weakening the national fabric,” Al-Azhar said in a statement.
Sunnis have traditionally opposed Shiism, which teaches that many of the Prophet Mohammed’s companions رضي الله عنهم revered by Sunnis were corrupt and usurped power from his rightful successor and cousin, Ali رضي الله عنه.
“We are not against Shiism. They can do whatever they want in their countries, but if we are to draw closer to them, we don’t want to hear insults against the companions,” Mahmoud Azab, Tayyeb’s dialogue adviser, told AFP.
According to sources, Egyptian authorities shut down the husseiniya, which was reportedly opened by Lebanese Shi’ite cleric Ali al-Korani during his recent visit to Cairo.