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Published On: Mon, Mar 9th, 2015

Egypt closes thousands of mosques to battle against ‘extremism’

An Egyptian administrative court upheld the Ministry of Religious Endowments’ decision issued in September 2013 to close down neighborhood places of worship of less than 80 square meters (861 square feet), a move intended to protect young people from the militancy and extremism that can prevail in such places, which lack the legal standing to hold Friday prayers.

Ahmed Karimeh, a professor of Sharia at Al-Azhar University, told Al-Monitor that legal teachings and conventions specify that Friday, Eid and main prayers must be conducted in a mosque, and not in a neighborhood place of worship.

Egyptian protesters photo twitter @DaliahGalal

Egyptian protesters photo twitter @DaliahGalal

This move sets a precedent that raises many questions about the fate of mosques in many Egyptian villages, the grounds of which are usually less than 80 square meters.

Opponents of the decision, such as the Salafist Nour Party, claimed that closing down places of worship without providing a larger alternative serves to fuel extremist ideology, considering that the larger existing mosques cannot accommodate Friday worshippers who line surrounding streets to pray.

Many supporters of the decision, such as intellectuals and scholars, say that those mosques are time bombs that threaten national security, as they fall outside the purview of the Ministry of Religious Endowments and are used to spread subversive ideologies.

The ministry has also awarded 400 preaching permits to Salafist leaders without requiring oration tests, despite the ministry’s previous and constant accusations that they spread extremism.

The five daily prayers can be held at these informal sites, but not the special celebration prayers. In that sense, the Egyptian Ministry of Religious Endowments upheld a recognized religious law.

Karimeh explained that closing those neighborhood places of worship, located in apartment buildings, commercial buildings or factories, would help mitigate the influence of extremist religious orators such as those affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafist groups or Shiites, who use those places of worship to take advantage of religious gatherings.

Image/CIA

Image/CIA

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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