Religious practices need to be rethought to keep pace with societal developments: Egypt president

Amr Kandil , Tuesday 25 Oct 2022

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said on Tuesday that religious practices in the region “need to be rethought” for the modern world to keep pace with the developments and challenges in society.

Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi speaks during the final day of the Egypt s Economic Conference 2022 on Tuesday 25 October, 2022. Photo courtesy of Egyptian Presidential spokesman Facebook page.


El-Sisi made the remarks at the closing session of the Egyptian Economic Conference 2022 on Tuesday.

The president also called on General Coordinator of the National Dialogue Diaa Rashwan to hold an interfaith conference that includes Muslims, Christians, as well as non-believers.

The National Dialogue, which is under preparation, was called for by El-Sisi in April with the aim of reaching common grounds on priority issues facing society, including social issues.

El-Sisi reiterated the need to reform religious discourse, and said that his earlier proposal to require that divorces be officially documented has not been endorsed despite being approved by a large percentage of members of a specialised religious committee.

In 2017, El-Sisi called for issuing a new law that would prevent divorces from being recognized by the state unless they take place in the presence of a marriage official. However, Al-Azhar, the country's top Islamic authority, insists that according to Islamic law, divorces must be considered valid even if they take place without witnesses or documentation.

According to Egyptian law, Muslim men can legally divorce their wives by mere utterance of the phrase “you are divorced.” Women are not afforded the same right to verbal divorce.

The number of annual divorce cases in Egypt increased by 14.7 percent in 2021, according to recent figures by the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics.

Commenting on El-Sisi's remarks today, Minister of Justice Omar Marwan said that a new family law that would ensure “transparency in marriage and put drastic solutions for the problem of divorce” will be introduced to the president soon.

Marwan said his ministry conducted a training course in cooperation with the Ministry of Religious Endowments and Dar El-Iftaa, the country's official body responsible for issuing religious edicts, to provide “intellectual support” to marriage officials so that they can judge on divorce cases.

El-Sisi has called for reforming the religious discourse on more than one occasion in the face of extremist thought and waves of terrorism.

The president has urged religious institutions and scholars to intensify their efforts to spread the values of coexistence, intellectual diversity, acceptance of others and tolerant Islamic instructions.

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