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Egypt lawmakers consider giving Sisi the power to select grand mufti

Egypt's grand mufti if currently selected by a council of religious scholars [Getty]

Date of publication: 24 February, 2020

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A draft law submitted by MPs proposes that the president should have the final say on the selection of Egypt's highest-ranking Muslim official.

Egyptian lawmakers are considering a bill that could grant the country's president the power to appoint the state's highest Muslim cleric, local media has reported.

The bill was submitted by Osama Al-Abd, the parliament's religious and endowment affairs committee head, along with 60 other lawmakers.

The draft law aims at "granting the president of the Republic of Egypt to choose the country's grand mufti among from three pre-nominated by the Al-Azhar's senior scholars two months ahead", local media quoted the bill as saying.

"The fatwa house is a religious entity, with a legal personality, affiliated with the ministry of justice, and represented in virtue of the grand mufti, and it is based on the Islamic Sharia. The centre must have a high-ranking secretary-general appointed by the current mufti," the bill continued.

If passed, the law would change the process of selecting Egypt's grand mufti, who is usually elected in an internal ballot by Al-Azhar's Council of Senior Scholars.

The office of grand mufti has generally been held by clerics supportive of the government, including that of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, despite his brutal crackdown on Egypt's Islamist opposition. 

Amid one of the most brutal phases of the Sisi regime's campaign of suppression, current Grand Mufti Shawki Allam decreed that protesters killed by police cannot be considered as 'martyrs'.

The 2015 statement followed a string of highly publicised deaths of activists and torture in police custody.

Dar Al-Ifta is one of the pillars of religious foundations in Egypt, which also includes the ministry of religious endowments and al-Azhar.

The institution plays a major role in issuing rulings to the masses and consultations for the judiciary of Egypt.



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