JNN 28 April 2014 Cairo : The Egyptian forces arrested one of the main killer of top Shia cleric ‘Sheikh Hassan Shehata’ before escaping to Libya on Thursday.
Egyptian security sources have reported the arrest of the principal suspect in the 2013 martyrdom of one of the country’s Shia scholars and leaders.
In a joint operation involving agents of Egypt’s Bureau of criminal investigations, its national security forces and office of security headquarters, the chief suspect in the brutal killing of Hassan Shehata was taken into custody.
According to local Egyptian media outlets and Internet news sites, the suspect, identified as 40-year-old Hamdi Mohamed Borek al-Qalaawi, was caught on Thursday while hiding near the city of Matrouh and just before attempting to flee to Libya.
The suspect was arrested at a checkpoint 8 km away from Matrouh governorate, near the Egyptian border with Libya, a security source said.
According to the case papers cited in Egyptian press reports, Borek confessed that he was illegally heading to Libya to avoid arrest by police.
According to the Egyptian newspaper al Yaum al Sabe, Hamdi Muhammad Muhammad Berik al Jalaawi, 42, arrested before leaving the country to Libya.
According to security forces, he is one of the main killer of Sheikh Shehatah and his companions.
Who is martyr Sheikh Hassan Shehata?
Hassan Bin Muhamad Bin Shehata Bin Mousa al-Anani, Known as Sheikh Hassan Shahate, was born in November 10, 1946 in the small town of Harbit, Markaz Abu Kabir, in al-Sharqiyah province of Egypt.
He was a prominent Shia cleric who had thousands of followers due to his moderate views and his denouncement of radical and extremist movements in Egypt.
He was one of the main religious figures advising the Egyptian army and was an Imam of one of the most important mosques in capital Cairo.
He was well known for telling people about the nature of extremist groups and radical thoughts which are common in Egypt due to powerful presence of radical Salafist groups.
His enlightenment was not welcomed in the ruling system.
In 2009 Sheikh Hassan spent some time in jail under the government of ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak due to his speeches against radical movements harming Islam. 306 of his followers were also detained along with him.
This wasn’t the first time he was arrested; before that he was arrested in 1996 for what the then authorities called desecration of religions.
On June 23, 2013, Sheikh Hassan was brutally attacked at a gathering in the village of Zawiyet Abu Musalam by more than a thousand of Salafist extremists and along with 3 of his companions was harshly beaten to death.
In Egypt, the small Shia population is harassed by the authorities and treated with suspicion, being arrested – ostensibly for security reasons – but then being subjected to torrents of abuse by state security officers for their religious beliefs.
The Arab country has been witnessing a rise in hate crimes against Shias, which analysts believe is due to widespread anti-Shia propaganda by extremist Wahabis aimed at encouraging people to go fight alongside terrorists in Syria.
Critics warn that militant extremists are acting with dangerous impunity.
Murder of Sheikh Hassan
The brutal attack on Sunday (June 23, 2013) in the village of Zawiyet Abu Musalam, near the Pyramids of Giza, came as about 30 Shias were having a meal to mark a religious occasion. Hundreds of young men descended on them in the house.
n online videos of the killings, young men armed with metal and wooden clubs, swords and machetes, beat the Shias on the head and back, trapping them in the narrow entrance of the house.
The Shias beg for mercy as blood streams down their heads and soaks their robes. A crowd pressing around them triumphantly chanting and shouting. Some screamed “You sons of dogs!”
One video shows a young man dragging the motionless and bloodied body of one victim by a rope.
The videos appeared genuine and conformed with Associated Press reporting on the attack.
Afterward, the attackers congratulated each other, one witness, local activist Hazem Barakat, said in written and video account of the events he posted online.
He said that in the weeks preceding the attack, ultraconservative Salafist clerics in the area had been speaking out against Shias.
Raising wave of “hatred violence”
Mobs in rural areas have in recent months lynched suspected criminals amid a rise in gangs robbing motorists and banks.
Police still often don’t act to stop crimes, and the public has grown increasingly frustrated over increasing economic hardships and shortages.
Sunday’s attack, in contrast, seemed a straight-forward unleashing of hatreds.
Egypt’s population of 90 million is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim, with about 10 percent Christians. The small Shia minority is largely hidden and its size never firmly established, though some estimates put it as small as 1 or 2 million.
“Killing and dragging Egyptians because of their faith is a hideous result of the disgusting ‘religious’ discourse which was left to mushroom,” top reform campaigner Mohamed ElBaradei wrote in his Twitter account.
“We are waiting for decisive steps from the regime and Al-Azhar (mosque) before we lose what is left of our humanity.”
His Dustour Party blamed the president. It said the attack was “a direct result of the disgusting hate speech … escalating and expanding under the sight … of the regime and in presence of its president ( Muhammad Morsi ) and with his blessings.”
Al-Azhar, the world’s primary seat of Sunni Islamic learning said in a statement Monday that it was “terrified” by the killings.
The past few months have seen a dramatic rise in anti-Shia hate speech by Salafis, many of whom are President Muhammad Morsi supporters.
Salafis, a radical movement of Sunnis, view Shias as heretics and regularly denounce them on TV talk shows, websites and in mosque sermons.