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Top Egypt Cleric Denounces Shiite Mosques (May 21 2012, AFP)
Over the past decades, Al-Azhar has tried to promote a measure of reconciliation between the two streams of Islam, recognising Shiite jurisprudence as legitimate.
But the sect remains taboo in Egypt, partly because of its association with Iran, which has low-level diplomatic representation in Cairo after Egypt broke off ties following Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution.
In a recent debate ahead of a May 23-24 presidential election, one front-runner, Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh, said Shiism must not be allowed to enter Egypt, while another candidate has been forced to battle rumours that he secretly embraced Shiism.
Azab told AFP that Tayyeb’s statements were prompted by reports of a husseiniya built in a Cairo suburb which has an Iraqi expatriate community.
"It is reported — almost confirmed — that there was a husseiniya in the October 6 (suburb) and the people were unhappy about it," he said.