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Page last updated at 12:02 GMT, Friday, 3 April 2009 13:02 UK

Call for Egypt Bahai attack probe

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Human rights groups in Egypt are calling for an investigation into alleged assaults against followers of the minority Bahai religion.

Dozens of people gathered in a village in southern Egypt on Saturday chanting that Bahais were the enemies of God, six human rights groups report.

The groups say the attacks were incited by a journalist.

He is alleged to have said on Egyptian TV last week that a prominent Bahai was an apostate and should be killed.

The villagers threw firebombs at Bahai homes and cut off water supplies so that the fires could not be put out, and the police then ordered the Bahais to leave the village, the groups say.

The violence in al-Shuraniya, about 345 km (215 miles) south of Cairo, lasted five days and no-one was injured, the Associated Press reported.

Police have not allowed the village's 15 Bahai residents to return to their homes, the agency reported.

The Bahai religion was founded in the 1860s in what is now Iran. Bahais believe the faith's founder is the most recent in a line of prophets that included Buddha, Abraham, Jesus and Muhammad. The religion emphasises the spiritual unity of all humankind.

Bahais across the Middle East have faced severe persecution. In Egypt they have been denied recognition as an official religion.



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