By Mina Ibrahim
The Ministry of Religious Endowment suspended an imam on Wednesday who preached radical ideologies in a mosque that belongs to the ministry’s administration in Nabaroh city, Daqahleya governorate.
Mohammed Abdel-Razek Omar, head of the religious sector in the ministry, ordered to relocate the preacher to an administrative position until the investigations end.
In an official statement, the ministry announced the preacher violated the law by adopting radical ideologies and by belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood group, “which contradicts the objective of preaching”.
The statement also warned that the ministry will take serious procedures that could end in complete dismissal against whoever belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood or any other “banned” group with radical ideas.
The ministry also suspended an imam in the governorate of Fayoum late August and banned him from giving lessons and preaching in the governorate’s mosques. “He did not follow the ministry’s policy of not discussing politics in religious sermons,” according to deputy minister Abdel Nasser Atian.
In January, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s said Islamic institutions in Egypt, including Al-Azhar, the Ministry of Religious Endowments, and Dar Al-Iftaa, should “renew religious discourse.”
Al-Sisi emphasised the importance of “correcting religious speech so it is in accordance with the tolerant Islamic teachings, which should eliminate sectarian disputes and confront extremism and militancy.”
Al-Sisi said there is a need for a “religious revolution” to confront extremism. “It is illogical that this nation’s beliefs be the source of unrest, danger, and destruction all over the world. Here I do not mean Islam itself, but its interpretation, which for hundreds of years has made us enemies with the entire world.”
Following Al-Sisi’s speech, the three major Sunni Muslim institutions in Egypt have been supporting him in his efforts to reverse the spread of Islamic militancy. They preached the need to support the state and the current government by addressing radical opponents of the government, such as the so-called “takfiri” elements.
Minister of Religious Endowment Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa stressed the need to “renew religious discourse”.
He said the problems in our society are due to unspecialised preachers and “movements that propagate loyalty to groups and not to religion and its teachings”.
Gomaa said although discussions to develop religious discourse were falsely interpreted by some, “our new approach is to revisit religious texts while keeping modernity in mind”.
A similar announcement was made by Ibrahim Negm, advisor to the country’s Grand Mufti, urging employees at Dar Al-Iftaa to provide religious advice to Muslims “in a modern way”.
He said the institution is going to increase its online activity using social media to reach out to Muslims in Egypt and abroad.