Salafi member of the Egyptian parliament was ordered to “stop talking and remain quiet” by the Speaker after he loudly recited the Azan, or the Muslim call to prayer, while ministers were in session on Tuesday. Mamdouh Ismail surprised fellow MPs when he stood up from his bench, calling out “God is great … Hasten to prayer,” a call usually made from minarets of mosques. He was met with angry remarks from Speaker of the People’s Assembly, Saad al-Katany: “There is a mosque outside for you to go and recite the Azan in and pray in if you want.
“This room is for discussion only. You are not more religious than us nor are you more vigilant over prayer than us,” Katany added. Ismail received his comments with further protest, but the Speaker retaliated with: “Do you need media attention? You are a respectable lawyer, do you need the attention? “I will not permit you to talk [in the session] again. Sit down,” he then ordered Ismail, to which the Salafi complied after a few angry gestures. His microphone was silenced and he was no longer heard from in the remaining session. Ismail said that he gave the call to prayer because it was the time of the Asr, or afternoon, prayer. “We are not in the Vatican, this is a Muslim country, we need to pray on time,” Ismail said after the session. Muslims pray five times at set times throughout the day as it an obligatory pillar of Islam. Ismail said that politicians had been missing out on many prayers during the parliamentary sessions and this should be resolved. “I had asked the Speaker several times to organize the parliamentary sessions around prayer times, so that we do not miss them. The Speaker agreed and said he would take action, but he never followed through,” Ismail said. “His reply to me was like that of a dictator, even though he was in the wrong.” Nearly one quarter of the new parliamentary representatives come from the ultraconservative Salafi movement that follows a strict interpretation of Islam. The alliance led by the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party took about 47 percent of the seats. The Egyptian parliament was recently elected in the first votes since the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak last year after the popular uprising.
By Eman El-Shenawi