June 29, 2014 8:24 am

Egypt to restrict Ramadan sermons, further stifling political speech

Relatives of a Muslim Brotherhood member who was sentenced to death react to the verdict outside a courtroom in Minya, Egypt, Saturday, June 21, 2014.

Ravy Shaker, El Shorouk newspaper/AP Photo

CAIRO, Egypt – Egypt will restrict Ramadan sermons to the topics of faith and morality, in the latest move aimed at limiting political speech in the deeply polarized country.

Religious Endowments Minister Mohammed Mokhtar Gomaa said Sunday the decision should ensure that sermons during Islam’s holy month of fasting “unite people, not divide them.”

The measure, announced on the first day of Ramadan, is the latest attempt by the state to control religious speech following last year’s overthrow of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. In recent months Egypt has banned Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, which it considers a terrorist organization, and passed a new law restricting protests.

The ministry had already restricted preaching in mosques to state-authorized clerics.

© The Associated Press, 2014

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