To ‘heal rift in society,’ minister imposing stricter regulations on mosques, imams

The Endowments Ministry has launched an effort to register all mosques across the nation, and coordinate with Al-Azhar to oversee imams and their Friday sermons, in order to “mend the rift in society,” reported the state-run Middle East News Agency on Monday.

In a statement, Endowments Minister Mokhtar Gomaa said that a schism has been wedged through Egyptian society over the past two years, a schism that is reflected in relationships between a man and his wife, a father and his son, brothers and colleagues.

The domination of certain ideological factions has been behind these growing rifts, the minister claimed.  

In order to heal this trauma, preaching should be overseen by Al-Azhar in coordination with the ministry, Gomaa insisted.

The statement comes after the ministry’s recent decision to revoke the licenses of 55,000 imams and ban Friday sermons in mosques smaller than 80 meters – a move seen as an attempt to cripple the religious and political influence of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Gomaa said that those imams whose licenses were revoked were not graduates of Al-Azhar University, hence “do not fit with the mainstream moderate discourse of Al-Azhar.”

Those imams — who led the Friday prayers and were paid by the ministry on a freelance basis — had certain political inclinations that incited violence and propagated certain political ideas, the minister alleged.

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