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Egyptian Shias keep low profile in face of defamation

Hardliner Sunnis launch an anti-Shia campaign.
20130418 egypt shiaEnlarge
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gives a press conference following his meeting with Ahmed al-Tayeb (not seen), the Grand Imam of Cairo's Al-Azhar, Sunni Muslim Islam's highest seat of learning, in Cairo on February 5, 2013. Since Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad visited Egypt, Salafist movements have initiated an ongoing campaign against Shias. (KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)

CAIRO — The Sufis’ chants rose in an accelerating rhythm. 

"Have a look upon us, have a look upon us... you who were given the precious knowledge."

Thursday marked the birthday — Mulid — of Al-Sayeda Nafisa, wife of one of Prophet Muhammad's grandsons. The air was filled with eulogy poems, music and Quran recitations by thousands of her devotees from across the country who travel annually to her mausoleum in Old Cairo. They ask her for guidance and to grant the wishes they whisper to her tomb.

Hundreds of large tents were erected around the mosque to accommodate the visitors. Each tent carries a banner that shows the Sufi sect that manages it and the governorate it comes from.

One tent in particular, with a sign reading, "The Khalilia Sect — Giza" was quieter than all the others. It catered food and beverages for the poor and needy, but offered no music nor dhikr dancing.

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