A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, October 23, 2015

Egypt Closes Hussein Mosque During ‘Ashura to Prevent Shi‘a from Worship

Today marks the Shi‘ite observation of ‘Ashura, marking the death of Imam Hussein.Though Egypt has only a tiny Shi‘ite population, in recent years there has been considerable agitation by Salafi Islamists fearing the spread of Shi‘ism, and now Egypt has closed the shrine part of the large mosque of Sayyidna Hussein for several days to prevent Shi‘a from worshipping there. (On the anti-Shi‘a sentiment, see this article in the latest issue of The Middle East Journal.)

Sayyidna Hussein, the large mosque near the Khan al-Khalili, is one of several shrines in Cairo devoted to descendants of the Prophet, and dating from the (Shi‘ite) Fatimid Dynasty. Though it is a Sunni mosque, the Ministry of Awqaf apparently feared that it might be used for Shi‘ite rituals on ‘Ashura.

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