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Egypt's Endowment Ministry: We have cleansed mosques from extremists

Monday 22-05-2017 - 08:23 PM
Egypt's Endowment

Cairo - Egypt’s Ministry of Endowment exerts increasing efforts to exclude preachers who promote extremist ideas from the platforms of mosques. It has managed to achieve a turning point in the methods of preachings as well keeping the role of mosques at a distance from political struggles.

Below, is a special Al Bawaba News interview with the ministry’s Secretary Jaber Tayea:

Has Egypt’s Ministry of Endowment been able to control incitement spread by unqualified people who abuse mosques as their platform to spread wrong messages or messages of hate?  

Yes, the platforms have been controlled and cleansed from the inciting and unqualified elements, be them from preachers who are not graduates of Al-Azhar University or others who promote ideas against the government based on specific agendas and ideologies, including former leaders of the ministry. We excluded everyone adopting ideas contradicting with the state. We have managed to help preachers to use a moderate approach adopted by Egypt’s Ministry of Endowment and the Al-Azhar. The ministry has also banned any political speeches during Friday sermons and instead discuss issues that unify people and/or meet the needs of the Egyptian community. We are focusing on issues related to ethics and values supporting the principles of citizenship and affiliation.

Has this cleansing 'revolution' finished?

On the level of leadership, I can say that the Ministry of Endowment has been fully cleansed from those people who adopt specific agendas and ideologies contradicting with the interests of the Egyptian people.

Egypt's Endowment

Why did the ministry prefer to exclude them instead of participating in dialogue with them?

Dialogue does not work with those people. We provided them with many opportunities before to hold dialogue, yet they exercise lying.

Islamic antiquities controlled by Endowment Ministry are not cared for very well. Why are these antiquities not transferred to be under the supervision of the Antiquities Ministry to receive proper attention?

On the contrary. Egypt’s Ministry of Endowment had made a large number of appeals to the Antiquities Ministry to register the Mosque of Sayeda Zeinab as an Islamic monument, yet they only responded about a month ago. The role of Endowment Ministry towards mosques is limited to preaching supervision, while the Ministry of Antiquities is responsible for the archaeological care and maintenance of such structures.

What is the ministry’s plan during Ramadan?

The rules of seclusion (known in Arabic as I'tikaf which is a spiritual seclusion in a mosque, usually the last ten days of the fasting month of Ramadan) this year is not any different than last year. We allocated 3,453 mosques in which Muslims can exercise seclusion. We will not allow people who do not hold Al-Azhar certificates to deliver sermons in the mosques during Ramadan. We will raise the state of alert in the ministry’s operation room from the beginning of the holy month until Eid Al Fitr. Senior scholars of the Al-Azhar will deliver sermons in the major mosques in each governorate.

How will you manage preaching convoys this year?

We will resume launching preaching convoys in North and South Sinai, Wadi Al Natroun and Aswan.

Egypt's Endowment

How do you assess the current campaign targeting the Al-Azhar’s grand imam?

The increasing criticism against Egypt’s Al-Azhar, which is considered the center of Islam and Muslims, is not justified. The Azhar’s grand imam has a unique position in our community. He should not be attacked. We defend Al-Azhar’s sheikh against slanderers who work to smear his image. The Al-Azhar, like any other institutions, needs to be reviewed and reassessed, without the constant criticism of its grand imam.

Does the ministry hold sessions with those people who adopt extremist ideas to advise them?

We have an observatory headed by Dr. Abdullah Al Najar to review extremist ideas and fatwas and to refute them.

Is the ministry in direct contact with  prisoners who have adopted extremist ideas through some of the ministry’s preachers?

No, we are not. Yet, we could have done so if we had been asked to.

Has the ministry suspended Sheikh Mohamed Gebril after imprecating oppressors?

This is not true. He was prevented from preaching in the mosque of Amr Ibn Al-Aas, but did not curse oppressors. Though, we all imprecate those who oppress others.

Why did the ministry take harsh measures against Sheikh Salem Abdel Jalil?

They are not harsh but necessary measures to protect the Egyptian community.

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