At a time when political Islam is thriving in Egypt, mosques and imams had hoped to garner more relevance than in pre-revolution days, when they were mostly controlled and sidelined by the ruling regime. But many imams speak of ongoing marginalization today, and particularly bitterly about the use of their spaces for political ends.
“Before the revolution, we were sidelined but at least we weren’t used for political gain,” Ahmed al-Bahey, general coordinator of a newly launched movement dubbed Imams Without Constraints, says. “Now imams are being used for electoral publicity and candidates hold conferences in mosques.”
Bahey argues that the political exploitation of mosques is most apparent during elections, and that a recent trend of hiring ministry officials “who belong to a certain political current has become obvious to everyone” — a not-so-subtle reference to the dominant Islamist political trend.
He urges the Endowments Ministry, which is responsible for organizing mosques and imams and which is currently under strong Muslim Brotherhood influence, to set clear criteria for employment and not to exclude anyone unless they are proven to be corrupt.
Dalia Rabie / Egypt independent