Minister of Religious Endowments Mohamed Goma’a called on the armed forces to allow Egyptians to volunteer in countering terrorism, according to an official statement on Sunday.
The statement was issued following two massive attacks in North Sinai on Sunday, which led to the deaths and injury of security personnel and civilians. North Sinai-based militant group, “State of Sinai”, later claimed responsibility for the attacks.
However, military spokesperson Mohamed Samir told Daily News Egypt: “If there was a need to call for volunteers we would have initiated it by ourselves, but we are capable of handling the situation and we do not need to do so.”
“This call will show the world how Egyptians are supporting their brave leader Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and his courageous armed forces,” Goma’a said. “We are facing a conspiracy that targets our nation and religion, and we have no choice but to unite to resist it and throw our weights behind our leader and his armed forces.”
Goma’a added that both the military and police services are considered to be “[jihad] in the name of God”, referring to hadith (the sayings of the Prophet) to support his sentiment.
“Personnel working inside the country as policemen or on its borders as military men are more ready to sacrifice their lives for the sake of their nation more than any time before,” he said.
Sunni religious institution, Al-Azhar, along with the Ministry of Religious Endowments and Dar Al-Ifta, has been taking measures to control religious speech across Egypt. Increasingly, they have become involved in the national discourse, and have explicitly supported the current regime, certainly after the second uprising in June 2013.
The Ministry of Religious Endowments said last Monday it will put schools allegedly belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood under scrutiny, and will change their current management. Goma’a said that all private schools affiliated to religious associations and their employees should immediately be put under surveillance, including teachers and workers.
A couple of days earlier, Al-Azhar filed a complaint against a TV presenter for allegedly aiming to “make people question their beliefs”.
Despite the issuing of the controversial Protest Law in November 2013, approximately 4,000 ministry imams, scholars, and preachers participated in a demonstration organised by the ministry in February, in front of Abbasiya’s Al-Noor Mosque, as a part of its ongoing efforts in supporting the army’s “fight against terrorism”, state media reported.