The Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) condemned the disruption of a unity concert by Salafi groups in Minya on Sunday.
ANHRI said the “use of violence by religious groups to impose their will on society… is undoubtedly a stark assault on society as a whole which seriously undermines the authority of the state and the rule of law.”
The concert, designed to promote religious tolerance in Minya, included Muslim and Christian performers. It was interrupted by a large crowd belonging to the Salafi Dawa’a group and Gama’a Islamia’s Construction and Development Party. They demanded the end of the concert, saying it violated Islamic principles.
ANHRI’s statement calls for an investigation, saying the incident “may have involved a number of legal violations that should not be ignored, if the Egyptian authorities are as eager as they claim to establish the rule of law and face anarchy and lawlessness.”
The deputy president of Al-Nour, Sayeed Khalifa, also criticised the demonstrators’, saying “no one has the right to express their opinion regarding any issue in a non-peaceful manner or a non-legislative way.”
Rather than disperse the demonstrators or protect the concert hall, the police urged the organisers to cancel the event. Tamer Moafi, director of the research department at ANHRI, said he was disappointed. “The police should also be investigated for their shortcomings,” he said.
Minor scuffles were reported between the 6 April Youth Movement and the demonstrators over the concert.
“What happened is against the law because [the demonstrators] are imposing their opinions through force,” Moafi stressed. “It is wrong to spread false news because it leads to sectarian strife,” he added, referring to the circulation of flyers claiming the performers were singing Coptic hymns and urging people not to attend.
“The state should make a stand against such incidents because there are a lot of similar cases happening and they are becoming more frequent,” Moafi said.