CAIRO: The Prosecutor General’s office has begun investigations into attacks on five Bahai families in Sohag,
“Seven of the victims began giving depositions on Saturday and this process should be concluded by today [Sunday], Hossam Bahgat, director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) told Daily News Egypt.
“We requested in our complaint lodged Thursday that victims be allowed to make their depositions somewhere other than Sohag because of a possible threat to their safety. This was granted – the public prosecution office in Assiut is taking their depositions, Bahgat continued.
Attacks on the Bahai families began on March 29 after a satellite TV talk show “Al Haqiqa (The Truth) hosted a Bahai resident of El-Shoraneyya, the village in which the violence took place.
Events escalated the same day as journalist Gamal Abdel Rahim – who also appeared on the show – published an article in state-run daily El-Gomhuria condoning the attacks.
Thirty Bahais were forced to flee El-Shoraneyya after a mob set fire to their homes on March 31. One of the victims, Ahmed El-Sayyed, alleges that the police did not provide adequate protection and failed to arrest anyone involved in the attacks.
Abdel Rahim – who has published a series of vitriolic articles on his blog in which he alleges that Bahais are, amongst other things, Zionist agents – removed the article in question from his blog soon after EIPR presented its complaint to the Prosecutor General.
The complaint urges the public prosecution office to interrogate Abdel Rahim about what they describe as the journalist’s “incitement to violence .
Before its removal from the blog, the article received a comment from an individual claiming to be a National Democratic Party youth leader in which he confirms that “El-Shoraneyya s villagers attacked the Bahai homes, set fire to them and forced them to leave in response to the episode of Al Haqiqa .
Bahgat has not ruled out the possibility that the individual concerned, Mohamed Yousry, may be called in for questioning as part of the investigation because of the reference to the article in the complaint presented by EIPR.
“The most pressing problem now concerns the schooling of the nine Bahai children and young people who were part of the group of thirty forced to leave El-Shoraneyya, Bahgat explained.
The Bahai families have sought sanctuary in Cairo since fleeing El-Shoraneyya.
“Four of the group are aged between nine and 12, two are university students while the rest are in primary level education. We are urging the authorities to allow their admission to schools here as soon as possible, Bahgat said.
Bahgat added that the South Giza prosecution office will began hearing depositions in a separate case raised by Bahai activist Basma Moussa against Abdel Rahim.
During the Al Haqiqa episode, in which Moussa also appeared, Abdel Rahim referred to Moussa as an apostate and said that “she should be killed .
When Al Haqiqa presenter Wael El-Ebrashy responded with, “this program will not be used as a platform for calling for someone s death. Abdel Rahim said, “and it won t be a used as a platform for promoting deviant thoughts either .
EIPR says in the complaint presented against Abdel Rahim that his statement violates Article 172 of the penal code which criminalizes incitement to kill.