Egypt: Draft Law Banning Gatherings and Demonstrations In Mosques

In line with the government policy of imposing more exceptional and freedom restricting laws, the Ministry of Wakf (endowment) recently presented a bill banning gatherings and demonstrations inside mosques courtyards, with a three -month imprisonment and LE 500 in financial punishment for anyone who is involved in such acts.

  The bill was referred to the President , with a memo of explanation submitted by Minister of Wakf Mahmoud Hamdy Zakzouk in this regard. This of course will expedite the passage of the law without need of being referred to the Parliament, since the President will use his authority provided by the Egyptian constitution. Defending the bill,  Zakzouk said in his memo of explanation that the sharia, which is the main source of codification in Egypt,  has established rules in mosques which must be followed.

 He also added that laws have been issued to regulate the rituals in mosques, citing law 157 for 1960 which entrusts the Ministry of Wakf with mosques and houses of worship, and law 238 for 1996 which makes it illegal to give speeches and religious lessons in mosques without prior written permission from the incumbent authorities.

The minister stated the very reason which prompted his ministry to submit this draft law, by saying that mosques, Al Azhar in particular, are used by some elements to organize demonstrations after Friday sermons, and that some demonstrators go as far as to foment chaos and riots and profane the sanctity of mosques.

The draft law, which will be passed soon, drew a lot of row among a number of circles. In an exclusive statement to Ikhwanweb, Spokesman of MB Parliamentary Bloc Dr. Hamdy Hassan criticized the law by saying that the regime handles all issues from a security rather than a political perspective. He accused the Ministry of Wakf of seeking only to tighten its grip on mosques via such laws.

“This proves that the security mindset is contained in all ministries including the Wakd Ministry which was supposed to give top priority to promoting moderate religious tenets among the Egyptian people in general and the youth in particular”, Hamdy said, adding that the Bloc rejects the law and depicts it as encroachment on the religious freedoms and running counter to the role of mosques in Islam which includes religion and life alike.