Bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency, was valued at around $13,833 on Tuesday, after losing about 28% of its value. The world’s most active cryptocurrency spiked above $19,000 in December for the first time ever. The market capitalisation of Bitcoin alone is currently more than $232bn.
On Monday, Egypt’s Grand Mufti Shawki Allam issued a statement indicating that it is not permissible to trade, purchase, or sell Bitcoins as it poses many risks to people; the currency may lead to fraud or falsifying its value. He concluded that Bitcoin is forbidden in Islamic Sharia law.
On the other hand, Deputy Chairperson of the Planning and Budget Committee Yasser Omar said during a call on privately owned “Ten” channel that “Bitcoin is a tool used in fourth-generation warfare, belonging to an intelligence agency aiming to create conflicts across the world”
Different Egyptian officials opposed dealing in Bitcoins; in December, Egypt’s First Attorney General for Financial Affairs Mohamed Fouda called for drafting international legislation to combat dealing in the digital currency, considering it a means to finance terror groups, according to state news agency MENA. While in August, the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) said that it has no intention of passing a law or issuing legislation to allow the trade of cryptocurrencies in Egypt
During an interview on privately owned “AlHadath Alyoum” TV channel, former dean of economics and political science at Cairo University, Aliaa El-Mahdy, said that since Bitcoins are not distributed by a central bank or backed by physical assets such as gold, but circulate in a decentralised system—enabling users to make electronic purchases and sales—they can be used for financing terrorist groups or illegal activities.
Bitcoin trading has been either criminalised or regulated in several countries. In December 2013, the Chinese government banned financial institutions from using Bitcoin, while South Korea’s Ministry of Justice threatened to shut down all local cryptocurrency exchanges in late December, an announcement that sent shock waves through the worldwide cryptocurrency market.