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June 27, 2013 3

Accusations of Jewish Affiliation Precede a Lynching in Egypt

Anti-Semitic posters Egypt

A poster in Egypt derid­ing Shia Mus­lims as “stooges of the Jews.”

Ear­lier this week, an angry mob in a small vil­lage near Cairo attacked and lynched a group of Shia Mus­lims, a hor­rific episode that resulted in the mur­ders of four men. The inci­dent came two weeks after posters were widely dis­played in the vil­lage accus­ing Shia of being “stooges of the Jews.”

Mem­bers of Al-Nour Party, an Islamist party and a mem­ber of Egypt’s gov­ern­ing coali­tion led by the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, report­edly dis­played these posters on the walls of the village’s homes. One poster, cir­cu­lated on Twit­ter, has the logo of Al-Nour Party on the top right cor­ner of the poster.

The posters included images of out­go­ing Iran­ian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ahmadine­jad, who is per­ceived as a sym­bol of the Iranian-led Shia expan­sion in the Sunni Mus­lim world, shak­ing hands with mem­bers of Neturei Karta, an extreme anti-Israel group. The pho­tos rep­re­sent an absurd attempt to demon­strate a “Jewish-Shia’a alliance” that is allegedly plot­ting to gain con­trol over the Sunni Mus­lim world.

Two weeks after the posters first appeared, a hos­tile group of vil­lagers attacked the house of a Shia fam­ily who lived in the vil­lage. Mem­bers of the small Shia com­mu­nity had gath­ered in the house to attend a reli­gious cer­e­mony led by Has­san Sha­hata, a promi­nent Egypt­ian Shia cleric. Four men were killed dur­ing the bru­tal attack, includ­ing Sha­hata himself.

Graphic images of the vio­lence showed the mob drag­ging the bod­ies of the vic­tims through the streets of the vil­lage while police offi­cers watched from a distance.

A young daugh­ter of one of the vic­tims who wit­nessed the assault told a reporter from an Egypt­ian news agency, “Is this the form of reli­gion they want to imple­ment and they speak about? Even if we were Jews they shouldn’t have done this to us.”

Last week, a large bill­board in Tripoli showed Hezbol­lah leader Has­san Nas­ral­lah with a Star of David on his tur­ban and blood drip­ping from his mouth. The poster, the work of a rival Sunni group, was intended to demo­nize Nas­ral­lah in the worst pos­si­ble way: by char­ac­ter­iz­ing him as a Jew. Indeed, link­ing one’s enemy to Jews is a theme of the ris­ing sec­tar­ian ten­sion in the Mus­lim world. The recent lynch­ing inci­dent is a reminder of the poten­tially bru­tal con­se­quences of such accusations.

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