The Ministry of Religious Endowments has announced a ban on any cleric affiliated to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood from giving sermons or lessons at mosques.
The ministry decided to ban those belonging to groups such as “scholars against the coup, pro-democracy scholars’ coalition, or the democracy group of scholars for rights and reforms”, who participated in the Rabaa Al-Adaweya sit-ins, or any other kind of sit-ins that “go against the nation’s interest”.
“We will announce the list of names of the scholars who were banned soon,” the ministry said in an official statement.
The statement added: “We will not look into any requests filed by the banned scholars to return to the pulpit or give lessons, unless they provide written evidence from the notary public authority that they do not belong to any banned or terrorist group, and that they oppose all kinds of bombings and violence that target the public and private properties.”
Furthermore, in October 2014 the Ministry of Endowments received an approval from the Ministry of Justice to grant the first batch of endowment inspectors the right to arrest any civilian violating the religious speech law and regulations within mosques.
A month later, the Salafi Front, an Islamist political organisation, called for a new wave of protests, calling them “The Muslim Youth Uprising”. In response to the call, the ministry amended and united Friday prayer sermons among all mosques in Egypt, to call and warn against taking part in such protests.
The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar also announced at the international counterterrorism conference, held in December 2014, that Al-Azhar is taking new measures to develop “a rational religious speech”.
A few days before he handed over power in June 2014, former interim president Adly Mansour amended the Speech Law, which criminalises clerics who give a speech without prior notice to the Ministry of Religious Endowments. The law allows for their imprisonment for a period between three to nine months and fining them EGP 20,000 – duplicating the penalty if the act was repeated.
The amendments of the Speech Law modified the penalties from the original draft issued in 1996. The previous penalties were imprisonment for no longer than one month and an EGP 100 fine.