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Egypt steps up campaign to control mosques, licenses clerics

Published on Apr 10, 2014 7:25 PM
 
Policemen stand guard in front of a mosque during Friday prayer ahead of a protest by supporters of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, who was overthrown by the army after demonstrations against his rule last July, in Cairo, March 7, 2014. The Egyptian government has stepped up a campaign to curb Muslim Brotherhood influence over mosques, saying it has licensed more than 17,000 state-approved clerics to give Friday sermons to stop places of worship falling "into the hands of extremists". -- PHOTO: REUTERS

CAIRO (REUTERS) - The Egyptian government has stepped up a campaign to curb Muslim Brotherhood influence over mosques, saying it has licensed more than 17,000 state-approved clerics to give Friday sermons to stop places of worship falling "into the hands of extremists".

The military-backed authorities have been trying to bring mosques under tighter control since the army toppled Mohamed Mursi of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood last July after mass protests against his rule.

All of the newly-approved clerics had been trained at Al-Azhar University, which is a respected centre of Sunni Islamic learning, and institutions run by the ministry of religious endowments, according to a statement issued by the prime minister's office on Thursday.

"That is to strengthen the ministry's supervision over all Egypt's mosques so that they do not fall into the hands of extremists and the unqualified" and to prevent mosques being used for "party or sectarian" purposes, it said.

 
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