CAIRO: A report on al-mesryoon.com, an independent online newspaper, claims that the Minister of Religious Endowments Hamdy Zaqzouq gave orders that Imams focus their speeches on the illegitimacy of rejecting the political regime and criticizing the President.
Author of the report Magdy Rashid, told Daily News Egypt that a source at the ministry’s administration in charge of supervising mosques had told him that sermons should condemn any public rejection of the President, even if this president is “unfair, in order to maintain peace in the society.
“My source [who preferred to remain anonymous] said that orders were given to Imams to say that it is Islamically incorrect for Muslims to protest against their governments and presidents because this can cause chaos, Rashid said.
However the ministry has denied the claim.
Atef Galal, the ministry’s public relations director at the ministry told Daily News Egypt that Minister Zaqzouq had issued no statements in that regard. Another ministry spokesman, Abdel Kader Ihsan, told Daily News Egypt that he had “heard nothing of the sort.
Rashid, however, stands by his story, indicating that this wasn’t the first time Zaqzouq has made such controversial directives.
During last year’s holy month of Ramadan, he said, the ministry prohibited Muslims from holding retreats in government-run mosques. Such retreats are a Ramadan tradition whereby people spend most of their day inside mosques to pray and read the Holy Quran.
“They [the ministry] used to close the mosques to prevent people from staying there for long hours, Rashid said, adding that although this was practically implemented, the ministry’s officials continued denying it in public statements.
The news comes three weeks after the April 6 protest and ahead of another expected call by opposition forces to go on a general strike on May 4.
The two protests were publicized by young Egyptians on Facebook and garnered the support of thousands of youths.
Protestors were encouraged to stay home from work, avoid shopping, wear black clothes and hang the Egyptian flag from windows and balconies.
Last week, 27-year-old “Facebook activist Esraa Abdel Fattah was taken into custody by security forces for allegedly masterminding the April 6 general strike. She continues to remain in custody at an undisclosed location despite receiving a release order from the Prosecutor General.