By Jihad Abaza
The Ministry of Interior officially announced on Monday that it would move to ban a popular religious decal recently proliferating in Egypt, enforcing a law against stickers on vehicles.
The sticker, reading “Have you recited prayers upon the Prophet today?” has quickly made their way onto the backs of cars, microbuses, and the doors of local stores.
“The point is not the saying itself,” said Deputy General Amin Helmy from the Ministry of Interior’s press office. “This is a law against any stickers on any cars regardless of the saying, even Ahly and Zamalek stickers are banned. It is a traffic law like any other.”
“The reasons for this law,” he said, “are that a sticker might be offensive; it might stir sectarian tensions, or be inappropriate.”
Azhar University Professor Abdallah Al-Naggar, as well as other interior ministry deputy generals such Deputy Interior Minister for Media Affairs Abdel-Fattah Osma, appeared on Egyptian television channels, including Tahrir channel and Dream 2, and claimed that the stickers instigate sectarian tensions and thus should be banned.
“This governmental action is considered [an attack] on freedom of speech and expression. We assure that such a statement on a sticker is considered personal opinion and the government is not allowed to take any kind of procedures to prevent public or individual expressions of opinion,” said Menna El-Masry, a former lawyer and a researcher at the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression.
Sherief Taha, Al-Nour Party’s official spokesperson, said that the claim that the sticker may instigate sectarian conflicts “is provocative to the majority of Egyptian feelings”, according to the Al-Nour Party’s official Facebook page. Taha added that the “sticker spread fast amongst the millions Egyptian people that love their religion and their Prophet, and that this cannot be attributed to a specific body or organisation.”
Taha also claimed that he has seen several police cars bearing the sticker.