CAIRO: An online group which refers to itself as the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice Committee in Egypt, slammed in a statement on its Facebook page a strongly-worded condemnation issued by Al-Azhar’s Islamic Research Center (IRC) that accused the group of infringing on its authority.
"The Committee, which millions of Egyptians have agreed to, and expressed their desire to see its members diligently apply God’s law, draws the attention of our brothers in Al-Azhar to what happened in the last elections when millions of citizens voted for Salafi parties," said the Committee’s statement.
The IRC had announced after a meeting held Wednesday under the chairmanship of Al-Azhar’s Grand Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb its rejection to the formation of the "so-called" Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice Committee.
The statement stressed that Al-Azhar institution is the only reference to Muslim religious affairs in Egypt, adding that this role is determined by law and confirmed by the historical role of Al-Azhar and its performance of this role for more than a thousand years.
"The establishment of this committee oversteps Al-Azhar’s role and the role of the three state authorities, the legislative, the judicial and the executive," the statement said.
At the end of the meeting, members of the IRC issued a strongly-worded statement condemning the newly formed committee stressing that Al-Azhar refuses the foundation of any entity that would interfere in its religious and proselytizing role, calling on everyone to respect that.
The committee announced its presence on Dec. 25 through a new Facebook page carrying a statement linking it to the infamous body by the same name in Saudi Arabia.
Although the statement claimed that the founders of the Committee are members of the Salafi Al-Nour Party, the party, which has won close to 25 percent of seats in parliament in ongoing elections so far, has publically denied any connection with this ultra-conservative group, which seeks to directly enforce its religious ideology on society.