Today’s headlines convey the state of extreme anxiety that has followed sectarian strife in the working class district of Imbaba that left 12 people killed, more than 200 injured, and a church and several buildings torched.
Privately owned paper Al-Shorouk runs the headline “The fire of Imbaba is burning Egypt,” while the liberal Al-Wafd calls the incidents in the Cairo neighborhood a “Civil war in Imbaba.”
“Egypt in danger,” says the headline of the state-run Al-Akhbar, before detailing the investigations taking place.
The Salafis are innocents?
Al-Akhbar interviews Sheikh Mohamed Ali, considered the most prominent figure among the Salafis in Imbaba. He said:
“Thugs ignited the sectarian strife.” Ali denied Salafis’ implication in the violence. “Not every man with a beard is Salafi,” he said, adding that “hurting Christians and destroying their worship places in prohibited in Islam.”
Similarly, state-run Al-Gomhurriya quotes a prominent Salafi cleric and spokesperson Abdel Moneim al-Shahat as saying the incidents don’t represent true Salafi thinking. Shahat added that people should not mix up Salafism with the calls made by the newly established “Coalition to Support New Muslims” to free Kamilia Shehata – a Copt alleged to have converted to Islam.
Last month, the coalition staged large demonstrations to free Shehata, alleged to be held in a church against her will. But in an interview this week with Al-Haya, a Christian television channel broadcast from the US, Shehata said she is Coptic and has not converted to Islam. “This coalition is not considered Salafi,” argued Shahat, the Salafi cleric.
Interestingly, a Facebook page claims Salafi coalition incited Imbaba violence