Arrests Raise Concerns Over Egypt’s Tolerance

July 11, 2009

Author: Matt Bradley

Source: The National

More than 300 Shiite Muslims are believed to still be in the custody of Egyptian security forces more than two weeks after they were detained last month.

Since the arrests on June 23 and 24, few among Egypt’s small community of Shiite Muslims know the identities or whereabouts of those who have been arrested, nor have security officials explained why they chose to detain hundreds of Egyptians and more than 40 foreign nationals without charge.

The lack of an explanation for the mass arrests has led to speculation about the government’s motives. It remains unclear whether Egypt’s security forces are responding to popular anti-Shiite sentiment among the country’s majority Sunni population or if security officials believe that Egypt’s estimated 750,000 Shiites actually represent a legitimate security threat as a potential “fifth column” for the rising influence of Shiite-majority Iran.