Birds fly over mosques during sunset in Old Cairo (Reuters)
Egypt's state religious authority suspended on Sunday the muezzin of a mosque in the Nile Delta governorate of Beheira, after he personalised the adhan (call to prayer) to include the phrase “prayer is better than Facebook” instead of the usual “prayer is better than sleep”.
The usual phrase, part of the dawn adhan only, is aimed at encouraging believers to get up and pray. A mosque's muezzin is the individual appointed to lead the call to prayer, which rings out five times a day to match the five daily prayers Islam requires of its followers.
The ministry of religious endowments summoned the muezzin, Mahmoud El-Moghazy, for questioning after local residents reported that he had repeatedly altered the call to Fajr (dawn prayers) by using the phrase "prayer is better than Facebook".
El-Moghazy denied in an interview on Dream TV Sunday that he had used the phrase.
With 16 million users, Egypt is one of the world's top 20 Facebook-using countries and is top in the Middle East.
El-Moghazy claimed the reports against him are malicious fiction invented by the Muslim Brotherhood to hijack the mosque.
The Brotherhood, from which hails Egypt's ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, was declared a terrorist organisation by the Egyptian state months after Morsi's ouster in July 2013. The group has faced a multitude of terror-related accusations ever since.