Govt to keep closer tabs on nation’s mosques

Government officials on Tuesday announced plans to create a database comprising information about state-run mosques.

Government spokesman Magdy Radi told reporters the move was part of a wider plan aimed at “improving management” of state resources. Radi did not, however, specify whether the planned database would include the names of mosque imams, regular worshipers or contributors to Islamic charity funds.

A few years ago, the government embarked on a wide-ranging scheme aimed at asserting greater control over the country’s roughly 104,000 mosques.

The plan was to include efforts to “unify” the call to prayer–ensuring that all calls would be made simultaneously–and provide a single transcript for all Friday sermons delivered nationwide.

The plan also sought to oblige all imams and sheiks to undergo “religious training” provided by the Ministry of Islamic Endowments (awqaf) and government-run Islamic institution Al-Azhar.

Last February, Egyptian media reported that the government was planning to install cameras and monitors inside major mosques in order to supervise charity activities inside places of worship. The government, however, later denied the allegations.

Within the last two decades, Egypt’s mosques have occasionally served as centers for the recruitment and mobilization of Islamists. Mosques have also provided a venue for fund-raising and charity activities outside the control of the government.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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