Sheikh Hafez Salama, a popular veteran of the October War of 1973, has announced that he will perform the Salat al-Gha'eb, or "prayer for the absent", for Osama bin Laden’s soul at al-Nour Mosque in Abbasseya after Friday prayers.
Bin Laden, the founder and leader of Al-Qaeda, was killed recently by US ground forces in Pakistan.
Salama gained recognition as commander of the Popular Resistance in Suez in the October War and is the chairman of the Hedaya al-Islameya charitable organization.
The Ministry of Religious Endowments, meanwhile, is preparing itself for further conflict with Salama over who should take over control of el-Nour Mosque.
Minister of Religious Endowments Abdallah al-Husseiny has requested Minister of Interior Mansour el-Essawy to intervene, allowing Sheikh Ahmed Tork, the mosque’s imam, to take the pulpit and deliver the Friday prayer speech in place of Salama.
For his part, Salama asserted that he would not allow Tork to take the pulpit and said that the assembly guidance body would be responsible for the selection of an imam, accusing Husseiney of responding to American pressure.
On the other hand, Sheikh Ahmed Tork warned of clashes between worshippers and Salafis who support Sheikh Salama, stressing that el-Hedaya el-Islamiya does not own the mosque, according to court decisions and the law no. 157 for the year 1960.