Saudi preacher Mohamed al-Eraify speaks during Friday prayers in Amr Bin Aaas mosque in Cairo June 14, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)
Egypt’s Sheikh Mazhar Shahin, known as the Tahrir Imam, issued a statement Saturday criticising the Egyptian Ministry of Religious Endowments for allowing the pro-Mohamed Morsi “Impartiality” petition to be distributed during Friday prayers led by Saudi Arabia’s Sheikh Mohamed El-Areifi in Cairo.
"Would the ministry have agreed on distributing the anti-Morsi ‘Rebel’ petition, like what happened with ‘Impartiality’," wondered Shahin, who accused the ministry of being "Brotherhoodised."
In April, Egypt’s Ministry of Religious Endowments ordered the suspension of Shahin as Imam of Omar Makram Mosque in Tahrir Square for “criticising President Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood.”
The ministry’s order was later halted by a court verdict.
“Hasn’t anyone wondered why Sheikh El-Areifi came to give a speech in this particular timing? And in Amr Ibn Al-As Mosque?” asked Shahin.
El-Areifi’s speech, which took place in Egypt’s oldest mosque, comes two weeks before nationwide protests called for by the Rebel campaign and endorsed by the opposition.
The protests 30 June are set to demand early presidential elections. The Rebel campaign aims to gather 15 million votes, more than the 13 million votes garnered by Morsi in June 2012 presidential elections, in favour of "withdrawing confidence" from the president.
“Is Sheikh El-Areifi playing a specific role in agreement with the Muslim Brotherhood?” asked Shahin, questioning why the Saudi Arabian cleric hasn’t asked Morsi to step down to avoid bloodshed, like he asked ousted president Hosni Mubarak to do during the January 25 Revolution.
He further criticised the Saudi Imam for not calling on people in his hometown to fight Bashar Al-Asaad’s regime in Syria, as he did in his speech in Cairo Friday.
“He believes in the theory of a war until the last Egyptian soldier,” said Shahin, who stressed that he condemned the violence and killing taking place in Syria, adding that no one can doubt the stance of Egyptians regarding the Syrian matter.
El-Areifi’s last visited Cairo was in January, two weeks before the second anniversary of the 18-day uprising that witnessed days of nationwide clashes leaving over 50 dead.
His speech in Cairo in January, which emotionally praised the significance of Egypt’s role in history, received mixed reactions between supporters and critics who reminded Egyptians of controversial edicts issued by El-Areifi where he said that a daughter’s clothes would be to blame if she were sexually harassed by her father.
Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil received El-Areifi in January to thank him for encouraging foreign investment in the country.