The Egyptian party Future of a Nation (Mostaqbal Watan) said on Monday it has suspended the membership of Al-Azhar scholar Abdullah Roshdy, who recently described Christians as “unbelievers”, saying the scholar's comments were defamatory.
Abdullah Roshdy, an Al-Azhar scholar who works as a preacher at the Ministry of Endowments, has become a well-known figure in recent years for his mainstream religious discourse.
On Saturday, Roshdy was interviewed by presenter Ahmed Moussa on his programme Ala Masoulati (On My Responsibility) on Sada El-Balad TV channel to discuss the controversial comments of another Al-Azhar scholar, Salem Abdel-Gelil, who had called Christians “unbelievers” during his religious programme Muslims Ask the previous week.
Roshdy defended Abdel-Gelil's description of Christians as "unbelievers", stressing that he supported Abdel-Gelil’s comments.
Last week, a Cairo misdemeanour court set 24 June to start the trial of Abdel-Gelil on charges of contempt of religion following his comments.
Roshdy said he was recently moved to an administrative job and suspended from preaching, describing the ministry's actions as punishment for his beliefs.
On Monday, the Ministry of Endowments banned both Roshdy and Abdel-Geliil from giving sermons at ministry-affiliated mosques.
The Future of a Nation, a liberal-oriented youth party that won 50 seats in the 2015 House of Representatives election, is the second-largest party in Egypt's parliament.
"The party will not tolerate any member who violates the social and political framework of its organisation,” the party said.
In a similar controversy, the president of Al-Azhar University, Ahmed Hosni, was recently forced to resign after he described well-known independent religious commentator Islam El-Beheiry as an apostate.