Endowments Ministry to annex all mosques

The minister of religious endowments instructed officials to bring all mosques under the umbrella of the ministry in a directive Tuesday, he told the state-owned Middle East Agency.

The minister, Mokhtar Gomaa, told the administration of the ministry’s regional offices to bring all mosques under their control. Most of Egypt’s 150,000 mosques are already under the administration of the Endowments Ministry.

Part of this directive stipulates that an imam and a preacher must be appointed to each mosque.

Many preachers have ignored a directive to unify Friday sermons under topics dictated by the ministry.

Since former President Mohamed Morsi was overthrown by the military following mass protests in July, the new Endowments Ministry has looked to stem political organization in mosques.

Mosques are often a gathering point for political movements. It is common for marches of both Islamist and non-Islamist movements to begin at mosques before converging elsewhere. Mosques have been effectively utilized by Islamist groups, particularly for political organization and messaging.

Gomaa has said that his ministry’s job is to separate mosques from politics and to restore them as places of worship.

This has been implemented by closing small neighborhood mosques known as zawyas. Mosques that are less than 80 square meters in size are now banned. The ministry has also implemented new restrictions on who can become a preacher. Some 55,000 imams had their licenses revoked as a result.


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