Cairo: Egyptian police arrested a man who had claimed to be the Awaited Mahdi, venerated in Islam as the prophesied redeemer of humanity at the end of times.
The self-proclaimed redeemer is an Egyptian Quran teacher identified by his first name Mohammed and is a resident of the Delta governorate of Gharbia.
He posted a sign on his house, reading: “The House of the Awaited Mahdi for Memorisation of the Holy Quran”, Egyptian media reported. He could be charged with contempt for Islam.
Over the years, there have been several such claims. Last May, a Saudi man was detained after he attempted to attack a preacher at the Grand Mosque, Islam’s holiest site, in Mecca during the Friday sermon, claiming to be the Awaited Mahdi who will rid the world of evil and fill it with justice.
The most high-profile such claim was made in November 1979 when a Saudi preacher, named Juhayman Al Otaibi, aided by his brother-in-law and gunmen, claimed to be the Mahdi and held hundreds of worshippers hostage in the courtyard of the Grand Mosque in 1979. Security forces laid a siege to the holy place.
After two-week siege, security forces broke into the mosque, killing dozens of Al Otaibi’s followers and freeing hostages. Al Otaibi himself was later executed, along with at least 66 others.