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Choice of Salafist as Egypt's religious endowments minister provokes criticism

News Salafist Mohamed Ibrahim has been chosen as minister of Awqaf evokes fear of threats to Egypt's 'moderate' religious identity; critics say pick has strong ties to Brotherhood strongman, Khairat El-Shater

Ahram Online, Randa Ali, Sunday 29 Jul 2012
Mohamed
Left, Muslim Brotherhood's Khairat El-Shater and Mohamed Yosri Ibrahim ,November 2011(Photo: Mohamed Ibrahim's official facebook page)
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A number of religious and political figures expressed their discontent with the appointment of Mohamed Yosri Ibrahim, a member of the conservative Salafist Call organisation, as minister of religious endowments – Awqaf – in the new cabinet, voicing fears that this heralds an imposition of Wahabbism, a Saudi-influenced conservative form of Islam.

According to a statement issued on Saturday by a number of Sufis and other religious groups, the choice of Ibrahim, to head the Ministry of Awqaf will negatively influence Egypt cultural and religious identity.

The ministry of religious endowments regulates mosque activities, issues licenses to imams, and runs large swathes of real estate.

The groups accused Ibrahim, who is a staunch advocate of the implementation of Sharia, of rejecting the long-established theocratic teachings of Al-Azhar, which is considered by many as the main centre of Islamic frame of reference in the world, in his writings.

Mohamed Ibrahim, an engineer by training, a published author on religious matters who received his PhD in islamic theology from Al-Azhar in 2011, had revealed on Friday on his official twitter account that he accepted to head the Ministry of Awqaf following a meeting with newly appointed prime minister Hisham Qandil.

Qandil has indicated that the new cabinet will be announced on Thursday.

Islamist liberal activist Ibrahim El-Hodaiby also used his Facebook page to express his disapproval of the appointment, pointing out that Ibrahim had failed to win a seat in the parliamentary elections last winter when he ran on the electoral list of Al-Asala Salafist party.

El-Hodaiby further claimed that both Ibrahim's presence in the Constituent Assembly, which is currently drafting a constitution for the country, and now his appointment as minister of Awqaf are due to his strong relations with one of the Muslim Brotherhood's leading figures' in rumoured references to the influential Muslim Brotherhood figure Khairat El-Shater.

However, Ibrahim used Twitter to deny claims that he won the post because of his good relations with El-Shater.

El-Hodaiby also accused Ibrahim of "dressing in the garb of Al-Azhar scholars, fooling people that he is a moderate man, while in fact he fights its principles and embraces Salafist ideologies."

Ibrahim confirmed his respect for the entity of Al-Azhar and the role it played in his own education, adding that theoritical differences does not mean disrespect of the other.

Former MP Mohamed Abu Hamed, known for his anti-Islamist stance, slammed the news of Ibrahim's appointment describing it as "proof of the Muslim Brotherhood's embrace of Wahabi thinking."

Abu Hamed, a liberal, claimed such appointments show Wahabi preaching could spread in mosques across Egypt, and that the Wahabis "could use the road of democratic elections in order to establish a fascist dictatorship."

Meanwhile, Mostafa Al-Naggar, a liberal member of the dissolved parliament who defeated Ibrahim in the last parliamentary elections in Nasr City, Cairo, congratulated him for the new post on his twitter account.

Ibrahim was one of several Salafist preachers who led a number of protests for months against the Coptic Church after they claimed that a Christian woman, Camilia Shehata, was kidnapped and kept against her will by the church in 2010 after she converted to Islam, thus raising sectarian tensions between Muslims and Christians in the country. However, Shehata who surfaced later in 2011, gave a televised interview refuting any claims that she had converted to Islam or that she was kidnapped by the church at any time.

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15



N reply to Gigi
14-08-2012 07:22pm
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gigi
Well gigi you havenn't lived in the west then because its all about bashing the minority, from islam bashing to immigrant bashing they always the scapegoat. Remember christians,secularists have been chosen for the job so why not let this elcted official take his rightful seat.
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Gigi
23-08-2012 11:24am
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Thanks for the smile
Actually N I lived in London for many years. 'Bashing' is one thing which I agree is not right but the difference is that enshrined in the law is equality and people have rights - ALL people.
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Gigi
01-08-2012 11:39am
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Democracy is NOT the rule of the majority
Muzzamil ibn Hussain it is you who doesn't understand democracy. Democracy is not rule of the majority - that is just bullying. Democracy is for everyone and protects the rights of minorities not bullying them into forcing them to agree with you. You clearly have no concept of real deomocracy. Just because you are in the majority does not give you the right to discriminate against others who are not.
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13



lili novak
31-07-2012 06:36am
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salafist
Just look around in Egypt!The western influence is everywhere! Females are wearing tied jeans and putting on SCARF!Are we laughing at ourselves ,or ALLAH!!! Are we that BLIND to see that,the Zionist are eager to make us LOSE our MORAL ,[BECAUSE STILL WE HAVE] culture and RELIGION?!The ISLAM is ISLAM ,and we cannot ride two horses in the same time ,we have to decide to which direction we go.Follow the jeans ,or the scarf!????[I'm an European mother with Islamic believes,and I know that, the western countries are FAR AWAY from us regarding MORAL issues .]
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A woman
12-08-2012 02:47pm
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Ignorance and arrogance
Dear Lili! If ignoranceand arrogance would cause pain, you would scream all day!
Gigi
01-08-2012 11:46am
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Who appoionted you the arbiter of morals?
Ha ha - yet given the chance your pious representatives fiddle with kids in cars!
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lili novak
31-07-2012 06:36am
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salafist
Just look around in Egypt!The western influence is everywhere! Females are wearing tied jeans and putting on SCARF!Are we laughing at ourselves ,or ALLAH!!! Are we that BLIND to see that,the Zionist are eager to make us LOSE our MORAL ,[BECAUSE STILL WE HAVE] culture and RELIGION?!The ISLAM is ISLAM ,and we cannot ride two horses in the same time ,we have to decide to which direction we go.Follow the jeans ,or the scarf!????[I'm an European mother with Islamic believes,and I know that, the western countries are FAR AWAY from us regarding MORAL issues .]
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11



luay
30-07-2012 03:22am
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smiles
what provokes me much is the smile on the face and a volcano inside
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10



Asalafi
30-07-2012 01:54am
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El hamdulilah finally government mosques will be on the sunnah inshuallah
Allahu Akbar
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9



Zein El Ebedin
29-07-2012 11:36pm
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Egypt will be the next Salafi state now
Most unfortunate. Now, watch Egypt become a salafi state. El-Azhar is going to crumble and be infested with Salafi propagandists that have already been trying to infiltrate it. You've really messed up now, Egypt...
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8



Yousef al-Khattab
29-07-2012 11:18pm
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I Prefer an Unjust Ruler Over a Wahabi Kharji
But hey that is today's Ikhwan for ya always Machiavellians par excellence.
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7



MPA
29-07-2012 07:16pm
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Stop your whining people!
Jesus. There will be other elections. You can vote for another President or other members of Parliament when their terms end. You guys sound like a bunch of whiny girls.
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expat
29-07-2012 09:55pm
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you know anything from history?
there will be no new vote for a long time,lets that be said to you ...and if you think,you will understand it
6



Free Lady
29-07-2012 04:45pm
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Tip of Ice berg
Its just a beginning and still a lot to see in the future.
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