SHAFAQNA- Over a billion Muslims around the world are preparing to observe the holiest month of the year, Ramadan.
And whilst many plan to seclude themselves in Mosques during Ramadan’s final ten days in devotion to their creator, Egypt’s government has taken the unprecedented step of restricting this act of worship known as Itikaf.
The ban covers all Egyptian citizens apart from religious leaders appointed by the ‘Ministry of Endowments’ who must be graduates of al-Azhar University.
Critics have cited this as part of a systematic campaign against religious activity and gatherings that may spur revolutionary sentiment against a regime that has killed and imprisoned thousands since it took office from an elected government on the back of a military coup.
In another unique move, the ministry banned the use of external loudspeakers during the nightly prayers, justifying the ban by claiming it will ‘disturb the concentration of students’, currently preparing for their final academic exams, despite the vast majority of students attending night prayers themselves.