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State-sanctioned Friday sermon mandates ‘blessing of security'
Ministry's announcement equated security with "food and water", calling it an element without which humans can prosper
Published in Daily News Egypt on 13 - 01 - 2016

The Ministry of Religious Endowments published Tuesday the prescribed subject of the weekly Friday sermon for Islamic preachers to follow in the upcoming prayer, titled the "blessing of security".
In alignment with the Egyptian's state's continued effort to bring Egypt's Islamic institutions under the state's auspices, the topic of the sermon linked state security efforts to religious necessity. The ministry's announcement equated security with "food and water", calling it an element without which humans can prosper. The script, which can be viewed online for the public, provided an exegetical account of verses from the Quran, wherein the text purports the Muslim Prophet argues for the need for security and order in a society.
The sermon is among many that mirror the rhetoric of the government, which has repeatedly demonstrated its support for security measures. The sermon asserted that neighbouring countries, where "security [has been] lost", are not far from the political reality of Egypt.
The sermon goes on to discuss those who preach for the security of nations, describing them as "envious enemies to the state and the people".
The government has instituted measures to tighten control over mosques since the ousting of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. Hours after Morsi's ousting by the military, religious channels supportive of Morsi were forcibly closed, being accused of "inciting violence".
The Ministry of Religious Endowments has taken the initiative to unify the Friday sermon and to punish preachers who do not follow the published sermons. Since the beginning of the year, the sermons have voiced nationalist calls to support the Egyptian state, appealing to Arab unity or economic development.
Last week, Minister of Religious Endowments Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa directly condemned calls to protest in advance of the fifth anniversary of the 25 January Revolution.
Gomaa described the planned protests as "suspicious and crimes [...] against the nation", during a Friday sermon in the northern governorate of Beheira. In an appeal to national unity, Gomaa condemned protests as unpatriotic and worthy of punitive measures.
On that Friday, the government proscribed subject of the sermon was "The dangers of destructive calls and the necessity to counter them".
Last month, in response to calls for renewed protests on 25 January, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi emphasised his commitment to submit to the political mandate of the Egyptian people, in order to prevent a national security crisis.
Calls for protests on 25 January 2016 have been circulating on social media outlets, asking citizens to protest against the current regime and its widely publicised human rights abuses.

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