The Minister of Religious Endowments Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa said that the objective of unifying the Friday prayer speeches is not political, but rather religious and aims to combat extremist ideologies.
After several meetings with scholars for the past few weeks, the ministry decided to start implementing a written and unified Friday speech in all mosques. The Friday speeches have only been unified in topic since 2014, but not in exact iteration. However, this decision aims to send written speeches to all mosques as of this Friday.
According to Gomaa, the decision is optional so far, and will be mandatory within two weeks, after further ratification.
“The written speech will be more accurate,” he said in a statement. “It will also curb prevalence of extremist ideologies, and prolonged speeches.”
The minister further noted that the decision had been discussed among a wide array of scholars to verify its validity.
This decision comes following a string of other measures that the ministry has undertaken over the past three years to tighten its grip over religious discourse in Egypt, claiming it is attempting to regulate it.
Following the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood regime in 2013, the ministry has been largely involved in the state’s war on terror. It has banned dozens of preachers and undertaken further measures to regulate religious speech in Egypt.
The ministry was granted the right to arrest civilians, upon which a top Islamic preacher was banned in mid-2015 on charges of politicising prayers. In addition, scholar and TV presenter Islam Al-Beheiry is currently serving a reduced sentence of one year in prison on charges of ‘contempt of religion’.
On Sunday, the minister called for strengthening the penalty for electronic publishing of terrorism-related content, in order to combat the crime, state-run news agency MENA reported.