Egyptian government shuts down 27,000 mosques

Having experienced what it’s like to be ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood in the tumultuous but brief one-year presidency of Mohamed Morsi that followed the so-called Arab Spring — an Arab Spring that had the full support of the Obama administration — Egypt’s secular government is now doing something that West European countries and the United States should well consider.

In an effort to stamp down extremist militant Islamists, Cairo closed down 27,000 small mosques across the country.

People perform Friday prayers led by Chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars Egyptian Cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi at Al Azhar mosque in old CairoFriday prayer at the Al Azhar Mosque in the old part of Cairo, Nov. 16, 2012. (photo by REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

Rami Galal reports for Al-Monitor:

An Egyptian administrative court on Feb. 18 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.

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. In reply, opponents of the decision such as the Salafist Nour Party claimed that closing down places of worship without providing a larger alternative serves to further bolster extremist ideology, considering that the larger existing mosques cannot accommodate Friday worshippers who line surrounding streets to pray. On the opposite end of the spectrum, 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.

Note: On most matters of doctrine, the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) that now controls a third of Syria is closely identified with Salafism, a branch of Sunni Islam. See “Major U.S. magazine breaks with Obama admin by calling ISIS Islamic and apocalyptic

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

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. 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. As such, the Ministry of Religious Endowments’ decision, while late, was the correct one.

But Karimeh warned that the move would be to no avail if the ministry allowed people without credentials to take to pulpits. Initially, in August 2013, the ministry allowed only Al-Azhar imams access to pulpits, a decision later reversed in February when, for political considerations, the ministry allowed Salafists to preach, a disastrous decision that turned mosques into time bombs under the control of violent, Salafist-born militant factions, according to Karimeh. Allowing Salafists to preach for political considerations as an Islamic alternative to face the Islamic State ideology, at a time when hundreds of Al-Azhar scholars applied for but were denied preaching permits, runs contrary to the ministry’s repeated statements that it would bar non-Al-Azhar imams from taking the pulpit.

Karimeh criticized the ministry’s examination policy and said that it solely tested the applicant’s memorization of the Quran, without evaluating his general culture. He added that closing down neighborhood places of worship would not be enough to confront extremism. Toward that end, attention must be paid to the preachers, who should be properly schooled and financially compensated, so as to allow them to better educate themselves, instead of having to work as taxi drivers or vegetable vendors to provide for their families.

Karimeh also denied claims that some villages lacked proper mosques. It should be noted that neighborhood places of worship and mosques with surface areas of less than 80 square meters numbered 27,000 in all of Egypt’s provinces and villages.

Before the Ministry of Religious Endowments made its decision, the Egyptian Dar al-Fatwa issued a September 2013 edict, endorsed by a majority of religious scholars, barring the multiplicity of mosques in villages and cities, unless when absolutely necessary, as a plethora of places of worship only serve to divide believers. It explained that group worship was required for all scripted prayers, as those were celebrated for the love of God, but Friday prayers were inherently different, in that they are a form of offering to God.

An estimated 400 permits were issued to Salafists, who pledged not to use Friday prayers for political purposes. A follow-up committee was formed by the ministry in February to oversee new imams during Friday prayers, cancel their permits and initiate legal proceedings against them if they failed to abide by their agreement with the ministry, as well as permanently bar them from taking the pulpit of any mosque in the country.

The Egyptian Ministry of Religious Endowments previously adopted numerous measures to combat extremism and control religious rhetoric, and continuously affirmed that imams not affiliated with Al-Azhar would never be allowed to preach, going as far as to close down 27,000 neighborhood places of worship. The sudden shift in position by the ministry was followed by it issuing preaching permits to 400 Salafist leadership figures that it considered extremist, a clear reflection of the state of confusion that prevails in Egypt today.


Meanwhile, although ISIS/ISIL calls itself the Islamic State, President Barack Obama continues to refuse to identify the Islamic State as either Islamic or a state. Instead, in his speech of Sept. 10, 2014 and since, he calls the apocalyptic jihadists — who have been slaughtering Christians in Iraq, Syria, and most recently beheaded 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya — generic “terrorists.”

H/t Gateway Pundit



8 responses to “Egyptian government shuts down 27,000 mosques

  1. Reblogged this on Fellowship of the Minds and commented:
    Meanwhile, Obama actually invited to meet with him in the White House, Muslims with close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. Both are terrorist organizations.

    Hey, but he did promise to “fundamentally transform” America. Thanks a lot, all you who’d voted for the POS.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh to have an administration who would shut down the mosques here as well…dream on. And if the words of Valerie Jarrett are true, she openly stated she wanted to “transform” America into a Muslim country. Remember she’s a Muslim and from Iran. Ugh

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I predicted some weeks ago in The Fellowship of the Minds that the beheading of the Coptic Christians would cause the Egyptian government to react strongly. Now it has done so, and you can expect more if the mad dog Islamics don’t settle down.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Egypt has offered the administration in Washington an object lesson in discernment. It recognizes that as a religion, Islam suffers extremist elements (as might any religion), and has taken steps to counter their influence. Not bound by the curious “political correctness” constraints imposed on our society by Washington, Cairo can begin to effectively counteract the seductive blandishments of religious terrorism. Were Washington more deft in its foreign policy initiatives, Egypt could be a major ally in the struggle against jihadists.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. The proposal to shut down mosques in the USA is totally out of the question It would be a direct violation of the First Amendment. What religion do we ban next? Judaism? Buddhism? Quakers? Mormons?
    Jehovah’s Witnesses?

    The spirit of Tomas de Torquemada seems to be alive and well in the USA.


    • Who’s proposing to shut down mosques in the US? Even in Egypt, the government is shutting down 27,000 small mosques because they encourage and sponsor terrorism. TERRORISM is the key; not religion.

      If, say, preachers in a Methodist Church in the U.S. were to openly call for terrorism, the feds will be on them in a heartbeat.


  6. Pingback: Egyptian government shuts down 27,000 mosques

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