Recent meetings with major political movements demonstrate that the Ministry of Endowments “is not biased to any political faction and against exclusion [of any faction],” according to a ministry statement.
Minister of Endowments Mokhtar Gomaa met delegations from both Al-Nour Party and Al-Tayar Al-Sha’aby (Popular Current) coalition in separate meetings in the ministry’s headquarters on Saturday, the statement said.
Al-Nour Party head Younes Makhioun said that the meeting was to discuss the ministry’s decision to close zawaya (small mosques of areas less than 80 metres squared), a press statement issued by the party read.
The Salafi party head said that Gomaa affirmed that the decision will have some exceptions and special criteria, such as the abundance of mosques in the area, or the absence of a large mosque within the area of the small mosque.
The conferees also discussed the ministry’s decision to ban preachers who are not from Al-Azhar institution from preaching in mosques. Makhioun demanded that competence should be the standard on which preachers be chosen, not exclusively being from Al-Azhar. The decision was dubbed as a trial to exclude Salafi preachers from preaching in mosques. However, both sides agreed that the Preachers Association will found an educational institution for preachers, under the supervision of the ministry.
Makhioun added that they agreed with the minister on “banning the use of mosques in partisan conflicts or in publicising a specific political party, which is totally different from discussing politics in general.”
Al-Nour Party head concluded that the meetings are a part of series of meetings the party will hold with state officials.
A delegation from the Al-Tayar Al-Sha’aby political coalition also met with the minister. The party issued a statement saying that “Al-Azhar and the Ministry of Endowments should play a role in showing the true face of Islam to other countries, to counteract the Sheikhs who incite strife” The minister responded by announcing that they initiated a project to train preachers to be dispatched abroad to play this role, according to the statement.
The Al-Tayar Al-Sha’aby statement added that prioritisation of the poor is a must. In response, Gomaa announced that his ministry was one of the first to apply a wage system including maximum wage for its employees, while it is still working to apply a minimum income system.