Egypt considering pay rises for imams

Ahram online, Tuesday 17 Dec 2013

Religious endowments ministry requests LE1,800 minimum monthly wage for newly qualified imams and LE2,500 for senior clerics

File photo: Imams shout as they demand that Religious Affairs (Awqaf) Minister Hamdy Zaqzouq maintain an Islamic identity in a post-Mubarak Egypt by making Islam the main source of law in addition to demands to remove the state security apparatus and increase public salaries, in front of the ministry in Cairo March 1, 2011 (Photo: Reuters)

The religious endowments ministry has requested a higher minimum wage for imams at Egyptian mosques.

The ministry has asked the finance ministry to pay newly appointed imams at least LE1,800 (around $257) per month, Al-Ahram daily newspaper reported on Tuesday.

This is higher than the LE1200 ($170) per month national minimum wage the government will introduce in January 2014.

The plan also calls for senior imams to receive up to LE2,500 per month.

The wages of general managers and department heads at the ministry would rise to LE3,000 and LE4,000 per month respectively.

The ministry said imams do not receive a living wage at their current level.

In September, Religious Endowments Minister Mohamed Gomaa issued new controls to limit the influence of unregulated clerics. Prayers were limited to mosques controlled by the ministry, only Al-Azhar-qualified imams can preach in mosques, small mosques that are often led by independent imams were shut down, and donations from inside mosques were banned.

Egypt set a minimum wage of LE700 (less than $100 at the current exchange rate) in June 2011. The decision mostly benefited public sector workers.

Teachers and doctors in state schools and hospitals are still excluded from the minimum wage scheme.

The finance minister said the salaries of doctors and teachers would increase during the 2013/14 financial year as part of a new stimulus package. A minimum wage has not been set for these two categories.

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