Al-Azhar cleric Abdullah Rushdy has been suspended from his duties pending an investigation into an inflammatory post he made on social media believed to have been targeting renowned Egyptian Christian cardiologist Magdi Yacoub.
Religious Endowments Minister Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa said in a statement that Rushdy will be barred from taking the podium, giving religious classes, or leading prayers pending an investigation into his "controversial opinions, which are not accepted by the ministry and cannot be tolerated given the current conditions."
Rushdy's temporary suspension came after he made a post on Facebook believed to be aimed at renowned Egyptian cardiologist Yacoub, who is a Coptic Christian.
Presumably referring to charity work done by Yacoub, Rushdy said yesterday that "earthly work, if not based on a belief in God and his Prophet, only has value on this earth… and deserves gratitude from us as human beings; however, such work holds no weight on Judgment Day."
Rushdy made the statement amid a wave praise directed at Yacoub after he made donations to a hospital currently being built in Egypt.
Rushdy's comments brought swift condemnation from social media users, and a complaint was filed by lawyer Samir Sabry with the prosecutor-general accusing Rushdy of inciting sectarian strife.
The Al-Azhar cleric later defended his comments, claiming that he was not referring to Yacoub, whether directly or indirectly.
This is not the first time Rushdy has sparked controversy over his opinions on social media and television.
In 2017, the cleric was suspended after he labeled non-Muslims as infidels; however, he returned to his post per a court order in 2019.