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Eight arrested in Egypt on Shi’ite murder charges - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Egyptians carry the coffin of a Shiite man, who was killed last night along with three others by a mob, during a funeral in El-Sayeda Nafisa Mosque in Cairo on June 24, 2013. AFP PHOTO/GIANLUIGI GUERCIA

Egyptians carry the coffin of a Shiite man, who was killed last night along with three others by a mob, during a funeral in El-Sayeda Nafisa Mosque in Cairo on June 24, 2013. AFP PHOTO/GIANLUIGI GUERCIA

Cairo, Asharq AL-Awsat—Egyptian authorities have arrested eight people in connection with the murder of four Shi’ite men in the Abu-Muslim village in Giza governorate on Sunday.

An unidentified security source said authorities in Giza arrested eight people suspected of involvement in the incident, and that efforts were being made to arrest the remaining suspects, who are still at large.

Four Shi’ites, including Egypt’s Shi’ite leader, Hassan Shahate, were killed when hundreds of people from the village of Abu-Muslim set fire to the house of one of their leaders, and then beat them to death. The men were reportedly celebrating a religious event at the time.

The Egyptian media has criticized police for what they describe as “slow police reaction in helping victims.” However, Gen. Muhammad Ibrahim, the interior minister, stressed that “it was not acceptable for Egypt to witness a sectarian conflict between Sunnis and Shi’ites.”

In a statement on Monday, Ibrahim said: “Police attended the scene of the incident as soon as they received the report, and managed to safely evacuate 46 Shi’ites.”

Ibrahim added that police were making every effort to arrest the remaining suspects and bring them to justice.

The governor of Giza met a number of senior residents from the village and called on them to help restore calm. He said “it was agreed with senior village residents to calm things down and to coordinate with the authorities to destroy sectarian sedition before it erupts, and to help security forces apprehend the perpetrators.”

Egypt president Mohamed Mursi condemned the attack and ordered the security authorities to do everything in their power to arrest those responsible. Mursi described Sunday’s attack as being “contradictory to the tolerance, respect and moderation that distinguish the Egyptian people.”

Meanwhile, the Iranian Foreign Ministry has condemned the killings saying they contradicted the teachings of Islam. The ministry issued a statement on Monday which said it “condemned any extremist and violent action which contradicted Islam and its teachings,” pointing out that “Iran was confident that the sensible, revolutionary Egyptian nation, would confront conspiracies which aim to divide different Islamic sects.”

Badr Abdelatti, official spokesman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Egyptian foreign minister had telephoned his Iranian counterpart to express his condemnation.

He said Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr made a telephone call to Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, in which he expressed the Egyptian government’s condemnation of the incident. He also informed Salehi that the Presidency of the Republic, the Prime Ministry, Al-Azhar and other political forces in the country, have all condemned the murders.

Shi’ite official spokesman, Baha Anwar, said: “Egyptian Shi’ites will insist on punishing the murderers of Sheikh Hassan Shahate, who was unjustly killed, along with his brothers,” adding that Egyptian Shi’ites will hold a news conference on Wednesday to respond to the events in Abu-Muslim. He called on all institutions in Egypt to issue statements condemning the murders.