Egyptian government restricts Ramadan sermons
Egypt has ordered restrictions on sermons during the holy month of Ramadan to topics of faith and morality.
Mohammed Mokhtar Gomaa, the state's top official in charge of religious affairs, said on Sunday the decision should ensure that sermons during the month of fasting are not politicized.
“The religious speech was politically driven, which affected the moral side,” Gomaa claimed, referring to the time of the previous government, headed by ousted President Mohamed Morsi.
“Now we’re in a race against time trying to restore morals.”
Gomaa also noted that the content of sermons in Ramadan will be specified in a new regulation.
Muslims spend longer times in mosques during the month, which they devote to prayer, charity and good deeds.
The Egyptian authorities had already restricted preaching in mosques to state-authorized clerics.
Some 50,000 licensed preachers will be allowed to lead Ramadan prayers in mosques, Gomaa stated.
The restrictions are said to be the latest attempts by the state to control religious speech, following last year's ouster of Morsi.
Morsi was Egypt’s first democratically-elected president following the 2011 revolution that toppled long-time dictator Hosni Mubarak.
He was ousted last July by former army chief and current president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in a move that triggered demonstrations across Egypt.
Sisi is also accused of leading the suppression of the Muslim Brotherhood supporters as hundreds of them have been killed in clashes with the Egyptian security forces over the past few months.
In recent months, Egypt has banned the Brotherhood and passed a new law restricting protests.
Rights groups say at least 1,400 people have been killed in the violence since Morsi’s ouster, “most of them due to excessive force used by security forces.”