Egyptian daily “Al Masry Al Youm” reported a mass exodus of Baha’is from the southern province of Sohag. This comes days after residents of Showraniya (a village located in Sohag province) burnt down the homes of 5 Baha’i families.

Baha’ism followers in Shuraniya Village, Sohag, carried out a mass fleeing to Cairo after the village set fire to five of their homes, Al-Masry Al-Youm has learnt.

An official security source, who declined to be named, said the Baha’i homes have been put under security guardianship after their residents fled to Cairo. Sohag is home for 182 Baha’is, said the source.

Another source said the Baha’is 13 years ago took Shuraniya Village as a foothold to spread their ideologies as initiated by a man named Abdel Sami’e Sayed Abul-Ela and his brother Ahmed. They co-opted many followers, patricianly from the villages of al-Kabir and al-Sa’aydah.

Shuraniya, a small isle in the middle of the Nile, turned into barracks. Tight security was imposed, and the village inhabitants were banned from entering or exiting.

The media was also banned access to the village. 16 police cars, 6 armored cars and 4 fire engines were at the site, plus scores of secret policemen.

A meeting was held between Maghagha Local Council head and some policemen and leaders of influential families, who said the presence of Baha’is in the village was unacceptable by many.

Al-Masry Al-Youm visited the apartment of a Baha’i in al-Zahra’a area only to discover that he left it two days ago at dawn, according to the story told by the villagers. It also visited another two families in Husni Rashed area but they declined to talk.

Some Shuraniya people said Baha’i followers have good relations with all people in the area and were in good terms with everybody. They also said everybody should remain free to embrace whatever faith they want.

Meanwhile, 11 persons from Shuraniya were released after they were arrested on charges of attacking the homes of Baha’is one day before the fire. Some Baha’i followers and 6 human rights organizations yesterday lodged a request, calling on the Public Prosecutor to immediately look into the attacks on their houses in Sohag.

f