Egypt: Clergy should go back to their barracks
The Islamic Research Compound, from confiscating books to confiscating freedom of expression
Cairo, April 7, 2009
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information declared today that Al-Azhar Islamic Research Academy should stop interfering with civil society, and stop rendering edicts 'Fatwas' against freedom of expression aimed to support the policy of the ruling Party in Egypt, the most recent Fatwa issued by the respective scholars announced that 'striking is prohibited', and described the young people engaged in the 6th of April strike as "saboteurs and sinners", according to Al-yawm al-Sabe' newspaper, http://www.youm7.com/News.asp?NewsID=86353".
These Fatwas imply a great deal of hostility against young people who did nothing but exercising the right to express their peaceful anger of the tragic living conditions, and are definitely distorting the image of Al-Azhar scholars, who appear to be involved in inciting and escalating a hostile campaign against freedom of speech.
However, the recent pronouncement of the Azhari scholars comes as part of a series of pronouncements and Fatwas that have been launched, one of which was to flog journalists who spread 'false rumors', as well as numerous cases of book confiscation, without having the right and in collusion with the government, it's to be mentioned that most of the confiscated books are criticizing the performance of the government or calling for a civil secular state.
" the Islamic scholars never made similar pronouncements in condemning the continued State of Emergency for 28 years. Likewise, no voices were heard with a view to preventing the spread of cases of kidnapping and Torture in Egypt , and we do not ask for such edicts 'Fatwas', since the appropriate place for clergy is inside the mosques, therefore , clergymen, particularly the Islamic Research Academy, should be kept away from politics," said Gamal Eid, Executive Director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information.
It is important to note that the Fatwas of Al-Azhar Sheikh – Chief of the Al-Azhar religious institution- often indicate his annoyance of freedom of expression, for example, his pronouncements with regard to flogging journalists in October 2007, was followed by his insistence on the prosecution of Adel Hammouda, editor of Al-Fajr independent newspaper, in October 2008 on charges of libel and slander, by which Adel Hammouda and Mohamed Al-Baz were sentenced to large fines "80 thousand pounds each".