Egyptian authorities have suspended a provincial mosque imam from duty for allegedly reproaching Facebook users while making the call to dawn prayer, local media reported on Monday.
The Ministry of Waqfs (religious affairs), which is in charge of mosques in Egypt, said that it took the move after residents of the area of Kafr Al Dawar in the Delta province of Beheira complained that the imam mocked an Islamic ritual by tampering with the phrasing of the call to the dawn prayer to reprimand Muslim Facebook browsers, who do not perform prayers.
The imam purportedly used to say on the mosque loudspeaker: “The prayer is better than the Facebook” instead of the original exhortation: “The prayer is better than sleep.”
“He will be questioned and will receive a deterrent penalty if found guilty,” said Mohammad Abdul Razeq , the ministry’s religious department.
”He could be expelled from his job if the accusation against him is proven,” the official told independent newspaper Al Masry Al Youm.
The imam, identified as Mahmoud Al Mughazi, denied the claims. In an interview with private Dream TV Saturday night, he accused followers of the now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood of propagating the allegation because he had refused to allow them to use the mosque for political purposes.
Egyptian authorities have tightened their hold on the country’s mosques since the army’s 2013 toppling of president Mohammad Morsi, a senior Brotherhood leader. The step has denied the Islamist group and its allies a major platform to influence the public in this mostly Muslim country.
By Ramadan Al Sherbini
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