Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (2nd R) arrives for the closing session of Egypt Economic Development Conference (EEDC) in Sharm el-Sheikh, in the South Sinai governorate, south of Cairo, March 15 (Photo: Reuters)
President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said that religious values of toleration in Islam must be promoted warning that extremists and terrorists use religion for goals that are unrelated to the faith.
In an interview with the state run Holy Koran radio station, which turned 51 on Saturday, El-Sisi repeated his 2014 call for “a revolution in religious views,” saying the Islamic world needs to rethink and revolt "for religion and not against it."
Since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013, the government has been facing an Islamist insurgency in Sinai and beyond.
Late last year, the Islamist militant group Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, which has been waging deadly attacks against security forces in North Sinai for years, declared allegiance to the radical Islamic State group.
Supporters of the ousted president have also targeted security forces and economic targets in the capital and beyond.
Following the beheading of 20 Egyptian Copts in Libya by the Islamic State group in early 2015, El-Sisi called on the international community and Arab allies to join forces in a broad coalition against the IS group.
Egypt's Al-Azhar institution - the world's foremost authority on Sunni Islam - and the Religious Endowments ministry (Al-Awqaf), which controls religious sermons in mosques, have both denounced IS group actions as anti-Islamic.
Both Al-Azhar and Al-Awqaf have been implementing changes in their management operations to “counter radical Islamist ideas.”
Shortly after El-Sisi's first call for a "religious revolution" in 2014, Al-Azhar ordered a thorough review of text books in all of its schools and universities to weed out material deemed unorthodox from a "centrist" Islamic point of view.
Last week, Al-Awqaf, placed all Islamic cultural institutes and preacher training centres, which were often used by Islamists to promote their non-government version of Islam, under its direct supervision starting next academic year.
Al-Awqaf said it will not allow educational centres, which have been operated by independent religious associations, to be used “as a backdoor for [teaching] extremism or terrorism.”
Last year, Al-Awqaf also mandated all preachers to acquire a permit before administering sermons on the pulpit, banning all unlicensed preachers. The ministry also prohibited Friday prayers at small, less-regulated mosques known as Zawaya.