Egypt's outgoing interim President Adly Mansour on Thursday signed into law a decree banning all non-certified Islamic preachers, presidential spokesman Ihab Badawi said.
The law, which also applies to public spaces used as mosques, stipulates that only employees of the country's endowments ministry (Islamic religious affairs) or the senior Islamic learning institute at Al-Azhar can preach or give religious lessons.
The permission to preach or give lessons is only issued by Al-Azhar's Grand Sheikh or the endowments minister. Persons outside of these two institutions can also be allowed to preach, but only according to the endowment ministry's regulations.
Those who violate the law can face from three months to one year in jail and/or a fine of LE20,000 to LE50,000.
The punishment is doubled in case of repeat offenses.
The presidential decree also states that only students, graduates and employees of Al-Azhar, the endowments ministry or Dar Al-Ifta, the main authority for issuing religious verdicts, are allowed to wear clerical uniform.
Unauthorised persons who wear clerical uniform will face jail sentences of one month to one year and/or a fine of LE10,000 to30,000.
Employees of the endowments ministry, as allowed by the justice minister, are allowed to stop and arrest those who violate the law.
In March, Egypt's Religious Endowments Minister Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa placed all mosques and side-street praying areas under the authority of the ministry, while also including a timetable for the decision to come into effect.
He also prohibited any non-governmental organisation, certified or not, from collecting money in mosques outside the framework of the law.
A series of decisions coordinating the sermons of Friday prayers and assigning certified preachers came after "extremist ideas" were believed to have spread through informal prayer venues not regulated by the state. The ministry has thus undertaken a policy to adjust mosques' staff and sermons in a manner that is bipartisan.