The Ministry of Religious Endowments will hold a general national conference in May in response to President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s call for renewing religious speech, the ministry said.
The conference will bring together a “unique group” of scholars, intellectuals, academics and media personnel to discuss possible tools for renewing religious speech. It will be held in the context of a national dialogue being held by the ministry regarding this issue.
In an official statement, the ministry added that the conference will tackle seven major aspects, including: the cultural aspect, educational aspect, media aspect, scientific research aspect, calling-to-Islam aspect, in addition to the role of the local and international conferences and the delegations exchange role in influencing religious speech.
“The patriotic spirit that’s spreading in the nation will support us in countering the challenges of terror organisations and perverted ideologies,” Minister of Religious Endowments Mohamed Goma’a told state media on Monday.
He added: “We will tackle all the files regarding religious speech fearlessly, on top of them, the scholars training institutions and publishing houses allegedly belonging to those groups.”
Two weeks ago, the ministry announced a ban on any cleric affiliated to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood from giving sermons or lessons at mosques.
The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed Al-Tayeb, also announced at the international counterterrorism conference in December 2014, that Al-Azhar is taking new measures to develop “a rational religious speech”.
A few days before he handed over power in June 2014, former interim president Adly Mansour amended the Speech Law, which criminalises clerics who give a speech without prior notice to the Ministry of Religious Endowments. The law allows for their imprisonment for a period between three to nine months, and a fine of EGP 20,000 – duplicating the penalty if the act was repeated.
The amendments of the Speech Law modified the penalties from the original draft issued in 1996. The previous penalties were imprisonment for no longer than one month and an EGP 100 fine.