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Egypt bans ‘extremist’ and Muslim Brotherhood literature in mosque libraries

Authorities have called for checks on the books to be allowed in mosque libraries, and their swift removal
Books in mosque libraries will be inspected, with many set to be removed in the coming weeks (AFP)

The Egyptian Ministry of Endowments has demanded that all books related to "extremism" and the Muslim Brotherhood be removed from mosque libraries around the country within the next two weeks.

Mohammed Mokhtar Gomaa, the minister of endowments, also said that committees will be formed which will assess the books currently in mosques as well as the literature allowed in them. 

Gomaa stated that there would be consequences for any officials that did not abide by the orders, warning that mosque leaders will need to take a pledge to not allow any books in mosques without the prior permission of the General Administration of Religious Guidance office. 

The move comes amidst a model to "resist extremism" in the country, which involves the ministry overseeing the construction of mosques as well as supervising content which can be deemed as "extremist".

The head of the religious sector at the ministry, Hisham Abdelaziz, reaffirmed that books, magazines and publications found at mosques will be re-examined to ensure that they do not subscribe to any forbidden ideologies or belong to banned groups.

According to local media, the statements issued say that anyone who does not comply with the new regulations will be referred for investigation. 

Gaber Tayee, the ministry undersecretary, also said that specific books and publications will be targeted in the effort.

“Any books authored by a Salafist, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood or the Gamaa Islamiya will be removed,” he said. 

Opposition crackdown

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The Muslim Brotherhood is widely considered Egypt's largest opposition group.

However, along with secular opposition groups, it has been largely crushed since President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi came to power after ousting his Brotherhood-affiliated predecessor, Mohamed Morsi, in a military coup in 2013. 

Thousands of its members have since been detained, killed, or forced to live in exile for fear of persecution at home since the group was outlawed and declared a terrorist organisation.

Sisi, who served as Morsi's defence minister, has been accused by rights groups of overseeing the worst mass killing of civilians in Egypt's modern history, after the deadly dispersal in 2013 of sit-ins protesting the coup against the country's first democratically elected leader. 

The general-turned-president, however, has justified the crackdown as part of his so-called "war on terror", while denying that the country has any political prisoners.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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