Endowments Minister Mokhtar Gomaa revoked licenses for 55,000 imams on Monday, warning that all other licenses would also be automatically revoked if they weren’t renewed in the next two months.
Imams would now have to submit a request to the ministry to renew their licenses, accompanied by copies of degrees obtained from Al-Azhar or another ministry-affiliated institute, the minister said, in order to clamp down on unqualified imams delivering political sermons inciting violence.
Imams with degrees from institutes not recognized by the Endowments Ministry would not have their licenses renewed, Gomaa cautioned.
The ministry also announced that Friday prayers will only be permitted in mosques larger than 80 square meters. Smaller mosques would be required to obtain a written permit from the ministry in order to hold Friday prayers, at the discretion of their respective district heads.
These developments come amid growing fears that mosques are being used to propagate extremist political ideas and incite violence. In recent months, there have been scattered reports of scuffles breaking out inside mosques in response to provocative sermons.
Gomaa also announced a hotline would be established to report imams violating the ministry’s policies.