During a weekly television appearance, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar mosque Ahmed al-Tayyeb warned viewers about attempts to spread Shia Islam within Egypt.
Tayyeb was speaking about purported calls for Sunni Muslims to convert to Shiism, something he said reflected a grand plan to control the region.
“We don’t reject [Shiism] as a faith, but we object to the politically motivated propagation of this faith, in Sunni areas,” he said, before adding that those attempts would ultimately fail.
The state and Al-Azhar often treat Shia Muslims as a threat to the unity of the country. Although Egypt’s Shia minority is thought to constitute one percent of the total population, the state has consistently cracked down on Shia practices.
Last month, the Endowments Ministry closed the shrine of Hussein Mosque in Cairo during the Shia Ashoura Festival to bar Shia Muslims from observing their rituals.
In May, Shia cleric Taher al-Hashimy was arrested during a raid on his home and later faced accusations of running a covert organization and violating the principles of Al-Azhar. He was released on bail pending trial.
Earlier this month, Sameh Seif al-Yazal, who heads the biggest electoral alliance in the parliamentary elections, warned in a TV appearance that a competing list, the Republican Alliance, had a Shia leader among its candidates.