Much has been written about the visit of Egypt’s newly elected president, Mohamed Morsi, to Iran this past August and its implications for Egypt’s regional and global policies, especially vis-à-vis Washington, Jerusalem and Riyadh.However, Morsi’s international debut made its biggest impact at home. After he publicly denounced Syria’s regime while being hosted by Damascus’s top ally, Iran, his speech pointed to the new image he is attempting to cultivate: the tough, fearless leader who speaks with the voice of the people who chose him. For Islamists, he was a Sunni hero against the Shi’ites.Clearly Egypt intends to normalize its relations with Iran, whereas former president Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt was constantly raising the specter of Iranian plots meant to destabilize his regime. Still, even though Iran was the first Muslim country after Saudi Arabia that Morsi visited, the Arab street took note that Morsi, a life member of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, rejects the notion of an Iran-led “Shi’ite crescent” posing a threat to the Sunni communities of the Muslim Middle East.A SHI’ITE DYNASTY RULED EGYPT FOR 200 YEARS Islam is the state religion of Egypt. Most citizens, approximately 90 percent, are Sunni. Although there are no official statistics about the number of Shi’ites in Egypt, it has been estimated that they constitute roughly 1% of the population: around one million people.Some scholars put Egypt’s Ismaili population (the second-largest branch of Shi’ite Islam after the “Twelvers”) well above 1% and estimate the country’s total Shi’ite population at 2.2 million, mainly concentrated in seldom-studied southern Upper Egypt. The country’s main Shi’ite institution is Al Majlis al-A’la le Ahl al- Bayt (the Higher Council for the Protection of Ahl al-Bayt – the House of the Prophet Muhammad) headed by Muhammad el-Dereiny.The notion that Shi’ism is imported or alien to Egypt is incorrect. A Shi’ite dynasty, the Fatimids, conquered Egypt in 969 and ruled for 200 years. The Fatimid Islamic Caliphate, or al-Fatimiyyun, was an Ismaili Shi’ite caliphate that spanned a vast area of the Arab world, from the Red Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. Originally based in Tunisia, the Fatimid dynasty extended its rule across the Mediterranean coast of Africa, and ultimately made Egypt the center of its caliphate. At its height, the caliphate also included areas of the Maghreb, Sudan, Sicily, the Levant and Hijaz.The ruling elite of the state belonged to the Ismaili branch. The leaders of the dynasty were also Ismaili imams; hence, they had a religious significance to Ismaili Muslims. They were also part of the chain of those who held the office of caliph.Therefore, this constituted a rare period in history in which the descendants of Ali (hence the name Fatimid, referring to Ali’s wife Fatima) and the caliphate were united to any degree, except for the final period of the Rashidun Caliphate under Ali himself. The caliphate lasted from 909 to 1171, when Saladin became sultan of Egypt and returned the country to the nominal fealty of the Sunni Muslim Abbasid Caliphate.Although the Fatimids endowed numerous mosques, shrines and theological schools, they did not firmly establish their faith in Egypt. Numerous sectarian conflicts among Fatimid Ismailis after 1050 may have been a factor in Egyptian Muslim acceptance of Saladin’s reestablishment of Sunni Islam as the state religion in 1171. Al-Azhar theological school, which the Fatimids endowed, changed quickly from a center of Shi’ite learning to a bastion of Sunni orthodoxy.Yet Egypt remains a country with strong Shi’ite ties. The cultural legacy of Ahl al- Bayt – literally “people of the house,” referring to descendants of the Prophet Muhammad – remains strong even today.The clearest testament to the strength of Egyptian reverence for the Ahl al-Bayt is seen in the abundance of shrines and mosques dedicated to Hussein, Hassan, Zainab, Ali and other Shi’ite imams. Many of the Fatimid era’s traditions are still practiced. Shi’ite practices such as celebrating Al-Mawlid Al-Nabawy (the prophet’s birthday), Ashura (commemorating Hussein’s death), and even using lanterns during Ramadan are still common in Egypt. Egyptian Sunnis visit important shrines in Cairo such as Al- Hussein and Sayeda Zainab, and celebrate the deceased in a manner that overlaps with both Shi’ite and Sufi practices. Followers of conservative Wahhabi Islam, who view these practices as aberrations, often rebuke them for doing so.Shi’ite scholars trace three generations of Egyptian Shi’ism: The first generation was contemporaneous with Ali, the prophet’s cousin, who first stirred the dispute over who should follow Muhammad in leading the Muslims after the prophet’s Companions, who were not blood relatives, took over. This generation ceased to exist after years of Sunni rule.The second generation involved Iranians who immigrated to Egypt in the 19th century and retained their Shi’ite faith.Former Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser’s wife was a descendant of this group.Finally there are converts, many of whom were drawn to the faith after the Iranian revolution and the media campaign against Iran under former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat. Many are former members of Islamist groups such as Islamic Jihad and the Muslim Brotherhood.Disenchanted with the jihadist movement’s failure, these men found an alternative in Shi’ite Islam and the new Islamic state being chiseled out by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.If Shi’ite ideology could not penetrate Egypt even under Fatimid rule, it seems that the intensive Shi’ite preaching efforts, sponsored by Iran and its religious leaders, have borne fruit and perhaps tens of thousands of Egyptians have converted to Shi’ism. The new converts are disguised in more than 76 Sufi groups that seem to be the ultimate refuge of Shi’ism in Egypt.Because of their relative obscurity and the fact that they tend to shy away from public or political activism, Shi’ites are often overlooked in discussions of Egypt’s religious minorities. Misinterpretation and confusion abound among both Sunni and Shi’ite communities, making reconciliation or acceptance between them an increasingly challenging task.The schism between Sunni and Shi’ite Islam dates back to the death of Muhammad in 632 CE and focuses basically on who should have replaced him as Muslim ruler. However, the historical nature of the split does little to lessen the reality of Shi’ites living and worshiping in Egypt.Efforts by Al-Azhar University to bridge the gap between the various schools of thought have done little to reconcile Shi’ite and Sunni ideologies. Sheikh Mahmoud Shaltut, head of Al-Azhar University in 1959, issued a fatwa recognizing the legitimacy of the Jafari school of law to which most Shi’ites belong. The institution also established a “Center for Bringing Together the Various Schools of Islamic Thought,” which brought together several Sunni and Shi’ite scholars.However, this did not stop the regime from waging campaigns from time to time against the Shi’ite minority in Egypt.Sadat’s hostility toward Iran – the result of Egypt’s ties with Saudi Arabia and his concern that the Iranian revolution would be exported – was a reversal of Nasser’s support for Shi’ite clerics who opposed the shah, and whom Nasser viewed as revolutionaries against corruption.The “politicization” of the Sunni-Shi’ite divide through the proxies of Iran and Saudi Arabia became widespread in Egyptian society, when in reality the vast majority of Egyptian Shi’ites have no personal or political ties to the Islamic Republic. The notion that Shi’ism in Egypt is a vehicle of Iranian subversion is shared by some outside Egypt. Hostility against Shi’ism is political rather than religious and revolves around the competing ambitions of Saudi Arabia and Iran.REPRESSION UNDER MUBARAK Since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, the sectarian divide between Sunni and Shi’ite has deepened, allowing some regimes in the predominantly Sunni Middle East to accuse Arab Shi’ites of threatening regional stability to serve Iranian interests. Mubarak had accused Shi’ites in the Gulf of being more loyal to Tehran than to their home countries. King Abdullah II of Jordan, meanwhile, warned of a “Shi’ite Crescent” that has cast a shadow across the entire region. A 2004 news report claimed that Egyptian security forces held three Shi’ite dissidents for eight months and only released them after they promised to convert to Sunni Islam.While nearly three decades of Mubarak rule left Egyptians inundated with statespun scenarios of Iranian plots aiming to destabilize the country, many sympathize with Iran’s Islamic Revolution and consider Tehran’s defiance of the United States a model to follow. Indeed, during the Mubarak era, Shi’ites were under strict security restrictions and control due to their alleged affiliation with Iran. The Egyptian security forces have often regarded Shi’ites as agents of Iranian subversion.The year 2009 witnessed a wave of arrests of Shi’ite leaders under the Emergency Laws, accused of “forming a group trying to spread Shi’ite ideology that harms the Islamic religion” and insulting Islam. More than 300 Shi’ites were arrested at the end of June 2009, with no official explanation.One of those arrested was Sheikh Hassan Shehata, a Sunni scholar who adopted Shi’ism more than 10 years earlier and was fired from his position as imam of the Mosque of Shohada El-Gama’a (the University’s Martyrs), located blocks away from the Israeli Embassy in Cairo. Shehata was known as a Shi’ite hard-liner whose fiery sermons attack the prophet’s Companions and wife Aisha. He was first detained in 1995 following heavy criticism from Sunni scholars as well as the general public, who called for considering him an infidel (kafir) and expelling him from the country. Shehata was detained again in June 2009 under the charges of plotting against national security and disgust of religion. The investigations showed that he had visited Iran twice, around the same time that Egyptian authorities captured an alleged Hezbollah cell in 2009.Mohamed el-Dereiny, the official head of the Shi’ite community, said that the arrests were motivated by political considerations – specifically the looming threat of Hezbollah. The Lebanese Shi’ite armed group and political party scorned the Egyptian government for refusing to open its border with Gaza during Israel’s siege of the Palestinian enclave in late December 2008 and January 2009.Several months earlier, the Egyptian government arrested nearly 50 people and accused them of conspiring with Hezbollah to attack tourism and security infrastructure in the Sinai Peninsula. Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader, acknowledged that he had sent an operative to Egypt to purchase weapons and humanitarian supplies for the Palestinians in Gaza, which Israel has blockaded since Hamas took control of the coastal enclave in 2007.In September 2009, two Egyptian lawyers filed a lawsuit against the government, aimed at halting broadcasts of a Shi’ite channel carried by Egypt’s Nilesat satellite, on the pretext that the channel attacked sacred Sunni symbols. The two Islamist lawyers, Tarek Abu Bakr and Nizar Ghorab, had filed their suit against the minister of information and the chairman of Nilesat, calling to block the Fadak channel, which had broadcast a program presented by Kuwaiti Shi’ite preacher Yasser Habib. The lawyers accused Habib of insulting Aisha and the Islamic caliphs.A year later, in October 2010, Egyptian prosecutors charged 12 Shi’ites with promoting Shi’ite doctrine, insulting the Companions of Muhammad, plotting to overthrow the ruling regime, and receiving foreign funds. The group, which had been arrested in August, included Egyptian, Moroccan, Iraqi and Australian nationals.Perhaps as a measure to ease tensions between the Egyptian government and the Shi’ite community in Egypt, and in response to questions posed by a group of Saudi Arabian Sunni scholars, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ruled in October 2010 that “insulting the symbols of our Sunni brothers, including the Prophet Muhammad’s wife, is forbidden.This includes the women associated with all prophets, and especially those associated with the holy Prophet Muhammad.”Abdel Moaty Bayoumi, professor of theology and philosophy at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, argued that the fatwa was “incomplete” since it focused only on Aisha, highly revered by Sunnis, and did not refer to all of the prophet’s companions – some of whom Shi’ites frequently mock.Since the Egyptian Revolution, Shi’ites demand their rights Since the January 25 Revolution, Egypt’s religious identity is being reshaped with the resurgence of hard-line Salafi groups and a ruling Muslim Brotherhood president.Since the ouster of Mubarak, Shi’ite attempts at openness and political presence met with Salafi threats. Salafi leader Muhammad el-Marakby, a member of the Board of Ansar El-Sunna, harshly rejected the intention of Egyptian Shi’ites to establish a political party and called on other Muslims to fight against this trend. He alleged that Shi’ites in Egypt were attempting to create a political party and a newspaper financed by Iran.The election of Muslim Brotherhood member Morsi as president has radicalized the issue. Asked by Muhammad Hussein Yaaqub from the Shura Council about the Shi’ites, Morsi reportedly said that the Shi’ites were more dangerous to Islam than the Jews. In a debate ahead of the May 23-24 presidential election, one leading candidate, Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh, said Shi’ism must not be allowed to enter Egypt, while another candidate was forced to battle rumors that he secretly embraced Shi’ism.Since the beginning of the revolution in January 2011, the attitude of the Egyptian regime has been deeply ambivalent toward the Shi’ite minority. On the one hand, Shi’ites experienced a more lenient attitude from the regime, which accepted the expression of their grievances and aspirations: Indeed, in the very first days, Shi’ites expressed themselves in Tahrir Square through reviving the rituals of Imam Hussein and reciting “Labeik Ya Hussein” through megaphones and banners.In September 2011, the country’s Shi’ite minority announced its intention to run in the parliamentary elections slated for November, following in the footsteps of the Sunni movements that have resurged in the political arena since the January uprising. Shi’ite leaders announced their intention to establish a political party, named the Unity and Freedom Party.“As engaging in politics has become a right for all Egyptians, we must also be represented in parliament, just like any other faction,” said Ahmed al-Nafees, the party’s founder. Yet it came as no surprise when Salafi leader Gamal al-Marakby rebuked members of the Shi’ite community in Egypt for intending to form a political party, declaring that Salafis would oppose the move.Encouraged by what was perceived as a new era of personal liberties following the revolution, for the first time in Egypt’s modern history Shi’ites gathered in front of the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Cairo to denounce the Saudi stance on decrees permitting the demolition of shrines, as well as its funding of Salafi movements in Egypt. Demonstrators said the Saudi kingdom played a role in mobilizing Salafis to disrupt Egypt’s domestic security and endanger Sufis and Copts.This past August, following Morsi’s election, Egypt’s Shi’ite minority demanded official recognition by the state, permission to establish prayer halls, and a fixed quota of seats in the national parliament.Muhammad Ghoneim, head of the Egyptian Shi’ite Current organization, called on Morsi as well as the official religious establishment of Al-Azhar to consider their demands. Ghoneim stressed that Shi’ites had the right to practice their rituals without persecution and called for the establishment of “Husseiniyat” houses of worship. Ghoneim argued that Shi’ites made up the third largest religious group in Egypt, after Sunnis and Coptic Christians, and that is why they needed fair representation in parliament.“Shi’ites have to be represented in the People’s Assembly, the lower house of parliament, and the Consultative Assembly, the upper house of parliament, as is the case with Copts, so that they would be integrated in the society and would no longer be treated as outcasts,” he said.EGYPTIAN SUNNIS REMAIN WARY However, security forces have continued to apply an iron first against any sign of the Shi’ite minority’s “trespassing the limits of endurance of the regime.” Egypt’s security forces forcibly dispersed Shi’ite religious celebrations (the Ashura celebrations in December 2011) inside Cairo’s Hussein Mosque, claiming non-Shi’ite citizens would react angrily to the celebrations.The reaction to Lebanese Shi’ite cleric Ali Al-Korani’s visit to Egypt illustrates the political dimensions of the issue and the sensationalist way media covered the event. Korani, a messianic imam based in Qom, Iran, came to Egypt this past May.The Egyptian press responded with hysterical headlines about “the Shi’ite tide” in Egypt, Iran’s plans to influence the country through its Egyptian Shi’ite proxy, and Korani’s opening of the “first Husseiniya in Egypt.” MP Yasser el-Qady even called for the implementation of Article 10 of Law 20/1936, which allows the cabinet to confiscate publications that discuss religion in a way that could undermine public security.As a consequence, Egyptian authorities shut down the Shi’ite Husseiniya that Korani opened during his visit to Cairo, confiscating publications, posters and recordings found in the mosque.Al-Azhar, the Islamic Research Academy, and the Ministry of Religious Endowments condemned Korani’s visit. Sunni clerics criticized the religious seminars that Korani had attended and the lectures he had given in the homes of Shi’ites in Cairo and elsewhere. They described the cleric’s actions as an “unacceptable red line” and considered them an attempt to spread Shi’ite doctrine in Egypt. Ahmed al-Tayyeb, the imam of the Sunni Al- Azhar Institute, issued a statement condemning what he said were attempts to spread Shi’ism in Egypt. Tayyeb said that Al-Azhar “rejected any Husseiniya in Egypt because of their negative effects in destabilizing the country and fracturing unity and weakening the national fabric.”This past July, Egypt’s security services in Cairo’s Bulaq al-Dakrour neighborhood identified one of five Shi’ite preachers about whom the police had received several complaints, accompanied by copies of their interviews on the Internet, claiming that they had insulted and mocked the Prophet Muhammad and his Companions in an attempt to spread Shi’ism.The claimants said the defendants had used the Internet to communicate their ideas to residents, and that they had tried to arrest them but failed.Abd al-Daim Nasir – an adviser to the country’s top cleric, Sheikh Ahmed al- Tayyeb, and his representative at the constitutional assembly – told the Londonbased daily Asharq Alawsat on July 25 that Al-Azhar University had requested that a clause be introduced into the new constitution “outlawing the offense of God, the prophets and their wives, and the followers” of the Prophet Muhammad. The clause was meant to target Shi’ites, who ritually curse Aisha and a number of Muhammad’s followers who opposed the leadership of Ali.OFFICIAL IRAN, feeling the wind of change coming from Cairo, rushed to dissociate itself from events in Egypt. During his meeting with an Egyptian delegation visiting Tehran, Mohammad Mahdi Taskhiri, secretary-general of the World Assembly for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought, said that Iran was not connected to Shi’ite groups in Egypt that had held Husseiniyat rituals in memory of Muhammad’s grandson Hussein’s death.Such practices harm the possibility of dialogue and Islamic unity, and hence are irresponsible. He described them as individual practices.More than ever, he said, Islamic countries need to cooperate in political, social and economic fields in light of the common challenges they face, particularly since they have a common history. He emphasized the need to steer clear of doctrinal differences in the Islamic world and of attempts to spread one’s doctrine in other countries, saying this would lead to fragmentation and extremism. He said his organization has participated in and organized more than 80 forums in the previous year.Al-Azhar first brought up the idea of bringing Shi’ites and Sunnis closer 70 years ago, he said.Reflecting Tashkiri’s attitude was the head of Iran’s Interest Section in Cairo, Mojtaba Amani, who declared this past April that Iran did not see the Shi’ites as separate from other Egyptian citizens. He reiterated that Shi’ites were part of the Egyptian nation, they had their own methods for settling their issues, and Iran did not meddle in their affairs. He said the US, Israel and their associated groups were trying hard to sow discord between Iran and post-revolution Egypt, the two Muslim powers in the region, especially after the two countries showed profound interest in resuming relations after three decades.THE MORSI presidency has added a fundamental unknown element into the strained and problematic relations among the regime, Egyptian Shi’ism and Iran.According to a study by Israel Elad Altman, the Shi’ite question has not always been an issue for the Brotherhood. At its core, the Brotherhood’s basic ideological doctrine is pan-Islamic and religiously inclusive. Since the movement’s creation in 1928, Brotherhood leaders have emphasized the political importance of Islamic unity and have sought to downplay religious differences among various Islamic legal schools, including between Sunnism and Shi’ism.Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna considered all of Islam’s many sects – except for the Baha’is and Qadianis – as belonging to the worldwide Muslim nation (umma). In this spirit, Banna additionally took part in 1948 in the establishment of the Association for Rapprochement between the Islamic Legal Schools (Jamiyyat al-Taqrib bayna al-Madhahib al-Islamiyyah). This organization was designed to bridge the religious divides between Sunni and Shi’ite, and due to this organization’s leadership and influence, Shaltut declared Twelver Shi’ite worship to be valid, recognizing it as a legal tradition to be taught in Al-Azhar. As such, Banna and the organization he created originally adhered to an ideological outlook for which the “Shi’ite question” did not exist.The Brotherhood’s initial enthusiasm and support for the Iranian revolution was soon dampened, however, when the revolution did not turn out to be what its Sunni Islamist admirers had expected. By the mid-1980s, Brotherhood relations with Iran had soured significantly as the nature of the revolution was increasingly perceived not in universal and pan-Islamic terms, but as a Persian nationalist and distinctly Shi’ite revolution. These perceptions became widespread in Sunni Arab societies, especially as Iran attempted to export its revolution to Gulf Arab states, and also as Iran formed an alliance with the Syrian regime, which was engaged in an open clash with the Brotherhood’s Syrian branch. The Iraq-Iran War only further inflamed Sunni Islamist animosity across the region against the revolutionary Iranian state. The Brotherhood was initially critical of Iraq for launching the war against Iran, but then turned against Tehran when it extended the war in the hopes of toppling the Iraqi regime and occupying Iraqi territory.Events of the 1980s thus infused new acrimony into the Brotherhood’s relations with Iran. Ayatollah Khalkhali, the chief of Iran’s revolutionary courts, reportedly referred to the Brotherhood then as “the devil’s brethren.” In 1987, Sheikh Said al- Hawa, the prominent Syrian Muslim Brotherhood scholar and leader, published the book Khomeinism: Deviation in Faith and Deviation in Positions. Relations between the Brotherhood and Iran have become further strained since the Second Gulf War, when the Brotherhood took Iran to task for not coming to Iraq’s aid against the West, and then for supporting the Iraqi Shi’ite uprising against Saddam Hussein.The Shi’ite question has remained a deeply controversial and divisive issue within the Brotherhood, especially as a consequence of recent developments related to Iran’s growing power. This has been further underscored since the beginning of the civil war in Syria, where the Alawite- Shi’ite regime is fighting the Islamists, whose main fighters come from the ranks of the forbidden Muslim Brotherhood.THE BROTHERHOOD as a whole is torn over the Shi’ite question, between its identity as a pan-Islamic movement that desires unity with Iran to advance its agenda, and its identity as a distinctly Sunni and Arab movement that not only operates within unique socio-political contexts, but has reason to be suspicious of and even hostile to Shi’ite power.Yet the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s leadership has consistently sought to avoid entanglement in the Sunni-Shi’ite controversy and has downplayed Shi’ite efforts to convert Sunnis as marginal. It has further claimed that the US has instigated Sunni-Shi’ite strife as a way of dividing Muslims. The Sunni and Shi’ites, they argue, comprise one Muslim nation that must unite in order to confront “the American Zionist project that seeks to eradicate Islam.”The standard Muslim Brotherhood position has been that the Shi’ites are Muslims for all intents and purposes, and that the differences between Sunni and Shi’ite pertain to matters of jurisprudence that are of secondary importance, not to principles of faith. But this general formula became insufficient in view of the Shi’ite conversion debate and virulent attacks on Shi’ite beliefs and practices. An internal debate has emerged, reflecting a deep division within the organization on this matter.Historically, as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has downplayed religious differences between Shi’ite and Sunni, they have argued that Twelver Shi’ism should be recognized as an acceptably orthodox school of Islamic jurisprudence. Thus, the Brotherhood effectively serves as a counterbalance to the Wahhabi/Salafi-led campaign to vilify Shi’ism. In this way, the Brotherhood’s ecumenical approach has helped make Sunni society increasingly more open to Shi’ite religious proselytizing.Still, Morsi’s declarations make it very clear to the Egyptian Shi’ite community “that change is not around the corner.”Morsi, like his predecessors, has adopted a confrontational policy toward the Shi’ite minority, and he (like his predecessors) will not tolerate any affiliation with Iran. ■ Col. (ret.) Jacques Neriah, a special analyst for the Middle East at the Jerusalem Center For Public Affairs, was foreign policy adviser to prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and deputy head for assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence.He won praise from ultra-conservative Sunnis in Egypt who are his key allies and who only days earlier were loudly denouncing his trip to Shi’ite-majority Iran. For the first time in modern Egyptian history, an Egyptian president hit notes that were music to Salafi ears. Morsi kicked off his address with a salute to Abu Bakr and Omar, the Companions of the Prophet Muhammad and his first successors.Ultra-conservative Salafis despise Shi’ites as heretics. Mentioning these two successors was seen as an implicit snub to Iran: Sunnis revere them, but Shi’ites hate them because the Shi’ites view them as cheating the man they see as Muhammad’s rightful successor, Ali.The reference to the Companions was no coincidence. Morsi has a Muslim agenda that unfolds step by step. His first move was during Id al-Fitr prayers, when the Egyptian president chose to pray at the Amr Ibn el-As Mosque, named for the seventh-century Muslim conqueror and the Muslim colonizer of Egypt.In his salute to the Companions, Morsi hit an exposed nerve in Egyptian society, signifying to Salafis, Sunnis, Muslim Brothers and Egyptian Shi’ites his stance vis-à-vis the Shi’ite question in Egypt, an issue that is rarely discussed in the press.