Hassan Bin Muhamad Bin Shahate Bin Mousa al-Anani, Known as Sheikh Hassan Shahate, was born in November 10, 1946 in the small town of Harbit, Markaz Abu Kabir, in al-Sharqiyah province of Egypt.
He was a prominent Shia cleric who had thousands of followers due to his moderate views and his denouncement of radical and extremist movements in Egypt
He was one of the main religious figures advising the Egyptian army and was an Imam of one of the most important mosques in capital Cairo
He was well known for telling people about the nature of extremist groups and radical thoughts which are common in Egypt due to powerful presence of radical Salafist groups
His enlightenment was not welcomed in the ruling system.
In 2009 Sheikh Hassan spent three years in jail under the government of ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak due to his speeches against radical movements harming Islam. 306 of his followers were also detained along with him
This wasn’t the first time he was arrested; before that he was arrested in 1996 for what the then authorities called desecration of religions
On June 23, 2013, Sheikh Hassan was brutally attacked at a gathering in the village of Zawiyet Abu Musalam by more than a thousand of Salafist extremists and along with 3 of his companions was harshly beaten to death
In Egypt, the small Shia population is harassed by the authorities and treated with suspicion, being arrested – ostensibly for security reasons – but then being subjected to torrents of abuse by state security officers for their religious beliefs
The Arab country has been witnessing a rise in hate crimes against Shias, which analysts believe is due to widespread anti-Shia propaganda by extremist Wahabis aimed at encouraging people to go fight alongside terrorists in Syria
Critics warn that militant extremists are acting with dangerous impunity
Murder of Sheikh Hassan
The brutal attack on Sunday (June 23, 2013) in the village of Zawiyet Abu Musalam, near the Pyramids of Giza, came as about 30 Shias were having a meal to mark a religious occasion. Hundreds of young men descended on them in the house
In online videos of the killings, young men armed with metal and wooden clubs, swords and machetes, beat the Shiites on the head and back, trapping them in the narrow entrance of the house
The Shiites beg for mercy as blood streams down their heads and soaks their robes. A crowd pressing around them triumphantly chanting and shouting. Some screamed “You sons of dogs!”
One video shows a young man dragging the motionless and bloodied body of one victim by a rope
The videos appeared genuine and conformed with Associated Press reporting on the attack
Afterward, the attackers congratulated each other, one witness, local activist Hazem Barakat, said in written and video account of the events he posted online
He said that in the weeks preceding the attack, ultraconservative Salafist clerics in the area had been speaking out against Shias
Raising wave of “hatred violence”
Mobs in rural areas have in recent months lynched suspected criminals amid a rise in gangs robbing motorists and banks
Police still often don’t act to stop crimes, and the public has grown increasingly frustrated over increasing economic hardships and shortages
Sunday’s attack, in contrast, seemed a straight-forward unleashing of hatreds
Egypt’s population of 90 million is overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim, with about 10 percent Christians. The small Shia minority is largely hidden and its size never firmly established, though some estimates put it as small as 1 or 2 million.
“Killing and dragging Egyptians because of their faith is a hideous result of the disgusting ‘religious’ discourse which was left to mushroom,” top reform campaigner Mohamed ElBaradei wrote in his Twitter account.
“We are waiting for decisive steps from the regime and Al-Azhar (mosque) before we lose what is left of our humanity.”
His Dustour Party blamed the president. It said the attack was “a direct result of the disgusting hate speech … escalating and expanding under the sight … of the regime and in presence of its president and with his blessings.”
Al-Azhar, the world’s primary seat of Sunni Islamic learning said in a statement Monday that it was “terrified” by the killings
The past few months have seen a dramatic rise in anti-Shia hate speech by Salafis, many of whom are President Muhammad Morsi supporters
Salafis, a radical movement of Sunnis, view Shias as heretics and regularly denounce them on TV talk shows, websites and in mosque sermons