In the latest outburst of religious tensions in Egypt, dozens of villagers set fire to Bahai homes after hearing on television that the village was "full of Bahais," reports said Thursday.
Angry villagers rampaged through Sharoniyah, in southern Egypt, on Monday and Tuesday, setting fire to and damaging four Bahai homes, a security official told AFP, asking not to be named.
The fires spread to two Muslim homes which were also damaged, the official said. The villagers also threatened the village's roughly 30 Bahais with death, the official said, after which all of them fled.
The arson attacks were the culmination of unrest that began with stone throwing immediately after a Bahai named Ahmed called a television talk show that was discussing the religious minority on Saturday night.
Ahmed, who now lives in Cairo after fleeing persecution in Sharoniyah, described the village as ‘full of Bahais,’ which showed that Egypt's around 2,000 Bahais are not just a minority in Cairo.
A column in the state-owned al-Gomhuriyah newspaper said on Tuesday that the Bahais, whose world headquarters are in Haifa, Israel, are connected to "world Zionism."
Columnist Gamal Abdel Rahim described the Bahai as "a deviant group which seeks to harm Islam to serve the interests of the enemies of the Muslim religion, in particular world Zionism."
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