Al-Azhar’s Role in Freedom of Belief in Egypt

Source: The Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy

Author(s): Islam Barakat

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“Today, there is no freedom, especially the freedom of religion. The Ministry of Religious Endowments will not allow unlicensed preachers to give sermons at mosques. We are the sole competent authority to decide on this matter.” This was the answer of Muhammad Abdel Razeq, former undersecretary to the minister of religious endowments for mosque affairs, in response to a question about allowing Salafist clerics to deliver sermons at mosques.

The answer was not startling on the level of legislative reality in Egypt, as Law No. 157 of 1960 states that the Ministry of Religious Endowments “shall manage mosques whether or not an endowment certificate is issued, provided that such mosques are delivered to the ministry within a maximum period of 10 years from when the present law comes into effect. The ministry may supervise the management of such mosques until it takes full control of them. It may also supervise the management of small prayer rooms (zawiyas), which are renovated with the approval of the minister of religious endowments and directed to faultlessly deliver their religious message.”


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