FaithWorld

Egyptian clerics protest at graft in Islamic religious bodies

March 28, 2011
(Imams shout as they demand that Religious Affairs (Awqaf) Minister Hamdy Zaqzouq maintain an Islamic identity in a post-Mubarak Egypt by making Islam the main source of law in addition to demands to remove the state security apparatus and increase public salaries, in front of the ministry in Cairo March 1, 2011. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh  (EGYPT - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS RELIGION))

(Imams protest at the Religious Affairs (Awqaf) Ministry in Cairo March 1, 2011S/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

Egyptian clerics and employees of state Islamic religious bodies are demanding an end to what they say is rampant corruption by senior officials who manage religious endowments. No official figures exist for the sums donated to Egypt’s top Islamic institutions to help manage and build mosques and pay imams, but independent estimates suggest they run to the equivalent of hundreds of millions of dollars.

The bodies have been under state control for more than three decades and their reputation among many Egyptians has declined as part of broader discontent at the failings of government. Last month’s popular revolt that ended President Hosni Mubarak’s three-decade rule was the cue for an anti-corruption drive targeting senior officials in the former regime.

Sheikh Mostafa Hassan, head of a mosque and an employee in the endowments ministry, said kickbacks and book-fiddling in Egypt’s Islamic religious bodies were rife.

“We want an end to the huge administrative and financial corruption practised by officials in the endowment ministry for many years,” he said. “We also want the head of (Egypt’s highest Islamic authority) al-Azhar to be elected. We want measures for reviewing religious authorities that are fair and transparent.”

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