CAIRO: The Ministry of Endowment has ordered that the security of mosques will be outsourced to private companies, the ministry spokesperson Mohamed Abdel Raziq told Al-Masry Al-Youm Thursday.
The decision, which is to enter into force within the coming days, is one of several steps to improve mosques in Egypt, Abdel Raziq said.
The ministry is also planning to hire companies to be tasked with maintenance and cleaning purposes at mosques.
The to-be-hired companies “belong to the ministry,” and those assigned to secure mosques will “wear civilian uniforms,” Abdel Raziq added.
He said the aim of hiring security companies as to “help Imams to concentrate on preaching, secure worshippers’ stuff and organize mosques’ affairs in order to prevent any assaults or riots from thugs.”
The tasks assigned to these companies will be “different” from those assigned to the Interior Ministry, which is concerned with security affairs across the country.
Abdel Raziq said that the Ministry of Interior is burdened with combating terrorism; securing streets and citizens, and organizing traffic, “and thus, we will help them in securing and protecting mosques through companies that belong to us.”
On the other hand, the decision has met high rejection from Islamists who denied such move “would prevent certain Islamist groups from exploiting mosques.”
Fouad el-Dowaleby, the head of the Front to Reform Gamaa Islamiyya, told Youm7 that this decision “should have been presented before societal dialogue.”
Combating mosques’ exploitation should start from inside the ministry, a former leading member of the Gamaa Islamiyya Awad Hattab told Youm7, suggesting ministry employees to “raise awareness about Islam’s concepts through giving lessons.”
In an effort to curb radical Islamist influence and politicized sermons, Egypt issued a decree in 2014 banning unauthorized preachers from giving sermons or teaching Islam in mosques. However, some licensed preachers have also been suspended for delivering sermons that the ministry did not approve.
On July 15, renowned clergyman Mohamed Jibril was banned from travelling to London two days after the ministry banned him from giving sermons or leading prayers in all mosques nationwide.
Few days before the decision, Jibril prayed in a sermon for God to avenge “unjust rulers, politicians, media-men” during a night prayer, according to Youm7. The ministry accused him of violating rules and “manipulating people’s feelings.”