MP Muhammad Farag Amer has submitted an official demand for explanation to Awqaf Minister (Minster of Religious Endowments) Mukhtar Gomaa about the spread of unsupervised zawaya in overcrowded districts in Egypt. Zawaya are small informal mosques that usually occupy the ground floors of buildings and that, owing to their informal nature, frequently escape supervision of the Awqaf Ministry which is in charge of supervising mosques and imams. The zawaya are notorious for being hotbeds of fanatic, extremist religious thought that brainwashes young Muslims. The small informal mosques usually belong to and are under the authority of Muslim Brothers or Salafis; both groups explicitly endorse sectarian violence and propagate hatred of the other.
MP Amer pointed out that the number of zawaya has seen a recent surge; accordingly the numbers of fanatics have visibly increased. He made a link between the spread of zawaya and the recent suicide bombing at Boutrossiya church in Cairo during Sunday Mass on 11 December, which left 26 dead and 49 injured. In the wake of the incident, footage was circulated on social media of individuals talking on the minbar (pulpits) of zawaya extolling the death of the Christians at the hand of the suicide bomber and calling for more deaths for ‘infidels’ in the name of jihad.
“What more evidence,” MP Amer noted, “do we need that zawaya work to foster hatred and violence? The role of the Endowments Ministry should be to place them under it supervision, to make sure they are not used to promote such poisonous thought. The imams should be appointed by the Ministry, and should be trained to spread moderate, tolerant religious thought.” He warned that if the zawaya are left to thrive unchecked and unsupervised, Egypt would be heading towards disastrous consequences.
19 December 2016