Egypt: Top cleric says boycotting elections like 'disobeying parents'

Egypt: Top cleric says boycotting elections like 'disobeying parents'
Blog: As reports of low turnout continue to dog the second round of Egyptian parliamentary elections, the country's most senior Muslim cleric has told voters boycotting was like "disobeying parents".
2 min read
24 Nov, 2015
Tayeb supported the ousting of former president Mohammad Morsi [Getty]

Despite Egypt's top Muslim cleric likening boycotting elections to disobeying one's parents, the country's polling stations remained quiet on the second day of the second round of parliamentary elections.

Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, head of al-Azhar, the centre of Islamic learning in the country, made the remarks to journalists outside the polling station where he cast his vote on Sunday and called on apathetic voters to get involved.

"I urge everyone, especially the youth, to participate and cast their ballots," Tayeb told journalists outside the polling station where he cast his vote.

"We tell boycotters to stop this immediately; Egypt is like your mother, boycotting is like disobeying your parents," the sheikh added.

Read also: Egypt elections: low turnout and empty polling centres

Egyptians trickled into largely empty polling centres as they voted on Monday in the second stage of parliamentary elections, reflecting widespread apathy and disenchantment.

In spite of the grand imam's warnings, one group of young people chose to give the voting the cold-shoulder and held a symbolic protest outside the German embassy in Cairo, according to al-Araby al-Jadeed's Arabic service.

Many of Egypt's normally pro-government media responded harshly to Tayeb's comments, which they deemed to be patronising.

"[Tayeb] has gone and thrown us a completely baseless, ill-thought-out fatwa out of nowhere," said political talk show host Ibrahim Eissa.

's Youssef al-Hussaini was just as critical: "What do the elections have to do with mum and dad? Al-Azhar's grand imam must be able to articulate himself very precisely, but he doesn't, he is mixing religion up with politics," he said.

On Sunday, an Egyptian court began investigating a former presidential candidate for allegedly "undermining the state" and "insulting the presidency", after he suggested last week that there should be early presidential elections.