Senior al-Azhar Sheikh Emad Effat shot dead during Cairo protests

December 18, 2011

(People at Al Azhar attend the funeral of Emad Effat, a senior official of Egypt's Dar al-Iftah who died in recent clashes, in Cairo December 17, 2011. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany)

Emad Effat, a senior official of Egypt’s Dar al-Ifta department of al-Azhar that issues Islamic fatwas (religious edicts), died on Friday of a gunshot wound when Egyptian soldiers clashed with demonstrators protesting against the country’s military leaders in downtown Cairo. The clashes, which continued into Sunday, have killed 10 people and wounded hundreds, marring the first free election most voters can remember.

His wife, Nashwa Abdel-Fattah, told Reuters the bullet “hit him under his shoulder in a diagonal way from right to left,”  adding she did not know who fired the shot.  “The firing wasn’t just from above, there were people on the ground,” she said.

At his funeral on Saturday, hundreds of mourners chanted “Down with military rule.”

(People at Al Azhar carry the coffin of Emad Effat, a senior official of Egypt's Dar al-Iftah who died in recent clashes, during his funeral in Cairo December 17, 2011. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany)

According to Ahram Online:

Nashwa Abdel-Tawab, Effat’s widow and Ahram Weekly journalist, said in [a] video that her husband had been participating in popular demonstrations since Egypt’s January uprising. “During sit-ins at Tahrir Square, he would go to work in the morning and spend the night in the square,” Abdel-Tawab recalled of her husband. “He wasn’t able to join the Cabinet sit-in, but when he saw [the violence], he couldn’t just stand and watch people dying, so he went down to the protest.”

“He didn’t advocate violence,” she added. “He was there to show solidarity with the protesters.” Effat, senior clerk at Al-Azhar’s influential Dar Al-Ifta religious authority, died on Friday of a gunshot wound sustained when military police attempted to violently dispersed the sit-in.

Effat’s funeral was held on Saturday in the presence of thousands of mourners, including Al-Azhar officials, political activists and Coptic Christian figures, including prominent Coptic priest Felopateer Gamil and members of the “Maspero Youth” Coptic activist group.

The Muslim Brotherhood website Ikhwanweb wrote:

The late Sheikh Effat, 52 years old, also made an extensive argument against SCAF[military authorities] after the Maspero incident where scores of Christians were killed in clashes with the military police. He called the Egyptians to unite and pressure for handing over of power from the military to civilians, and warned all Egyptians – especially Islamists – from falling into the trap of sectarianism and igniting a confrontation between Muslims and Christians in the way that extends the rule of the military.

For more Reuters reporting on the unrest, see here and here. For more on Effat, see:

Thousands participate in funeral of ‘martyred’ Dar al-Iftaa official — Egypt Independent (Al-Masry Al-Youm)

Thousands bid farewell to fallen religious cleric killed in Tahrir — Ahram Online

Death of Emad Effat prompts mourning in Cairo — Global Post

Emad Effat, Shaykh of Egyptian Revolution, Shot Dead During Protest — Religion Dispatches

In this Al-Jazeera video on YouTube, Grand Mufti Sheikh Ali Gomaa, head of the Dar al-Ifta, struggles to keep his composure as he leads the funeral prayer (salat al-janazah) for Effat in al-Azhar mosque on Saturday.

In this YouTube video, a street artist paints a portrait of Emad Effat on the wall on Sataurday as the protest continued in the background.

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