An administrative court in Egypt lifted on Tuesday a travel ban against renowned Egyptian Koran reciter Mohamed Gebreel, who was accused of using religious sermons to criticise religious and public authorities, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported.
Gebreel had filed a formal complaint last July after he was prevented from travelling to London and was banned by the Ministry of Religious Endowments from preaching in mosques over what the ministry claimed was his use of "prayers for political purposes."
The court said in its reasoning that ‘all Egyptian constitutions have celebrated freedom of movement rights; they all stated that no citizen may be placed under house arrest or prevented from residing in a certain area except by a reasoned judicial order or as defined by the Law.’, It added that the current 2014 constitution stipulates that no citizen may be prevented from leaving the country's territory except by a reasoned judicial order and for a specified period of time.
The court explained that Gebreel’s travel ban was imposed by authorities without a court order, deeming it a violation of one of citizen's fundamental rights and public freedoms. Gebreel's complaint was filed against the Egyptian president, prime minister, the prosecutor general and the interior minister.
As Gebreel led a taraweeh prayer (traditional Ramadan post-Iftar prayer) in July at the popular Amr Ibn Al-As Mosque in southern Cairo, he improvised a supplication that was interpreted as criticising government officials, media outlets and religious preachers.
He pleaded to God to "protect us from corrupt media, the ignorance of rulers and preachers who lead us astray."
The Egyptian government tightened regulations on religious practices in mosques last year in an attempt "to combat the spread of extremist ideas," with the Ministry of Religious Endowments stipulating that all mosque imams and preachers must be certified by the government.