Egypt regime to write script for all Friday sermons

Egypt regime to write script for all Friday sermons
Cairo has tightened its grip over Muslim clerics in Egypt who have been ordered to preach from the same page, and deliver the same state-sanctioned sermon to worshippers.
2 min read
13 July, 2016
Muslims in Cario attend a lecture at the al-Azhar Mosque [Khaled Desouki/AFP]
From this Friday, Muslim clerics in Egypt will be required to read pre-written regime-approved sermons to worshippers.

At present, preachers are already required to take their weekly Friday sermons from the ministry of religious endowments.

From this week, all imams in the country will be reading from the same page and forced to deliver the same worded script in mosques across Egypt.

"No one disagreed during the meeting [of officials on Tuesday] and all the undersecretaries received the new instructions on pre-written unified sermons without incident," said the ministry's first undersecretary for Qalyubiya province Sabry Dowaidar, according to Reuters.

"The minister [Mohamed Gomaa] said he would start with himself and deliver the pre-written sermon [in a mosque] next Friday."

The news agency also reported that an anonymous undersecretary said that the sermons would be written by religious authorities at Cairo's al-Azhar University - one of the world's schools of learning, but viewed as an arm of the regime.

The move has drawn hostility from religious preachers across the country, sceptical about the authoritarian government's claims that its intention is to curb the spread of extremism in Egypt.

Since 2013, Egyptian authorities have led crackdown on religious leaders and movements that oppose authoritarian Egyptian ruler President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

He came to power after removing the Egypt's first democratically elected president, Mohamad Morsi, and his Muslim Brotherhood government.

The 2013 military coup was backed by religious authorities, including al-Azhar's Grand Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb.

Shortly after this, 55,000 Egyptian preachers who were not approved by al-Azhar were fired. Most of these were accused of being sympathetic to the now banned Muslim Brotherhood, which has since gone underground as thousands of the movement's supporters languish in dungeons on death row.