Egypt bans unlicensed mosque preachers in crackdown on Islamists

September 11, 2013

(Birds fly over mosques during sunset in Old Cairo December 22, 2012. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

Egyptian authorities will bar 55,000 unlicensed clerics from preaching in mosques in the latest move against sympathizers of deposed Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, the minister of religious endowments said on Tuesday.

Egyptian authorities have been cracking down on Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood since the army toppled him on July 3 following mass protests against his rule.

Minister of Endowments Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa said the clerics lack licenses to preach and were considered to be fundamentalist and a threat to the Egypt’s security.

The ban will mainly target small unlicensed mosques or random praying areas. The idea is to spread a moderate message of Islam and keep Egyptians away from radical ideas.

“The decision is only meant to legalize the preaching process during Fridays’ mass prayers and make only those authorized to do it, do it, Gomaa told Reuters.

Authorities moved to crush the Brotherhood following the overthrow of Mursi, Egypt’s first democratically leader. More than 2,000 Islamist activists have been arrested and most of the Brotherhood’s leaders, including Mursi, jailed on charges of inciting or taking part in violence. Some have also been accused of terrorism or murder.

Previous secular governments tried to move against fundamentalist preachers and their mosques but failed to clamp down on them because of the wide influence of Islamists.

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