CAIRO: Grand Azhar Sheikh Mohamed Sayed Tantawi stepped into the fray Friday over President Hosni Mubarak s health by condemning rumormongers as immoral.
Tantawi warned worshippers during Friday prayers that spreading rumors was against Islam.
Islam and all heavenly religions prohibit promotion and fabrication of false rumors, he was quoted by official Middle East News Agency in the Nile Delta town of Zaqaziq. Propagators of rumors are immoral.
The condemnation of Tantawi, who is appointed by the president, comes amid a concerted government campaign against a raft of rumors carried in the local and Arab press over the past week claiming that 79-year-old Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt for more than a quarter century, was suffering serious health problems. Some went as far as claiming the president had passed away.
The President seemed generally healthy in recent appearances, which have been heavily promoted in the state media, including meetings Tuesday in Alexandria with Jordan s King Abdullah II, Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D Alema and former British leader Tony Blair.
On Wednesday, independent newspaper editor Ibrahim Eissa was questioned for seven hours by authorities for printing the rumors and may face charges of disturbing the peace and harming national interests.
Earlier this week, first lady Suzanne Mubarak said in a rare television appearance that her husband is healthy, and said she believes journalists who published reports contending he was ailing deserve to be punished. Associated Press