Egypt’s Shia leader meets with US ambassador, praises US support

The spokesperson for Egypt’s Shia community, Baha Anwar, met with US Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson on Wednesday to brief her on the situation of Shias in the country.

“I talked to [Patterson] about the points of agreement, not difference, between the sects [of Islam], and ways to bring them closer,” Anwar said.

Anwar praised the United States for supporting democracy and the Arab Spring, and called on the US to confront authoritarian regimes and help Egypt transition into a civil democratic state.

Shias were shunned from Egypt's political and social life throughout the 30-year regime of ousted President Hosni Mubarak. There are no official statistics on the number of Shias in Egypt, but experts on the country's religious minorities estimate their number between 50,000 and 80,000, a relatively small percentage of Egypt's population of 85 million. Under Mubarak, some Shias were banned from traveling abroad, and many were repeatedly arrested by state security.

Mubarak and Islamic religious officials had accused Iran of seeking to control the region by spreading the Shia doctrine in Egypt.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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