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Egypt's state council judiciary orders the closure of Shia TV channels, websites

Egypt is home to a highly persecuted Shia minority [Getty]

Date of publication: 24 February, 2020

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The court ordered that Egytian ISPs restrict access to Shia website, including a prominent news website.

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Egypt, Shia, Iran
An Egyptian court has ordered the closure of domestic Shia TV channels and websites, Egypt-based Al-Ahram reported on Sunday.

An earlier administrative decision to annul the verdict was overturned by Egypt’s state council judiciary.

Under the ruling, Egyptian Internet Service Providers (ISPs) must now restrict access to Shia religious websites, including a news site.

'Ibn Nafis News' is headed by Dr Ahmad Rasim Al-Nafis, an Egyptian physician and university professor who converted to Shia Islam, provoking a major stir in a country home to a highly persecuted minority group.

Estimates on the size of the minority vary widely, ranging from 800,000 to two million out of Egypt’s total population of 90 million, according to Minority Rights International (MIR). 

Despite being deeply rooted in the country's history, regional geopolitics - namely Egypt's strained relations with Iran since the 1979 revolution - have brought sectarianism tensions to the fore.

Hundreds of Shia Muslims have been arrested for attempting to spread their beliefs in the country, with conflicts in the region contributing to a fear of creeping Shiisation, leading to an escalation of hate speech and rhetoric by prominent Sunni clerics.

Egypt's religious establishment see Shia rituals as a violation of Islamic tenets, with the ministry of religious endowments refusing to recognise Shia mosques or rituals, according to MIR. 

Various international organisations have affirmed the violation of the sect's religous freedoms in the country. 

In 2013, a mob of 31 Salafis killed four Shia Muslims, including a leader sheikh, who were marking a religious ocassion in Giza province. 

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