Religious Endowments Minister on muezzins, sex-changes, politics in mosques

Minister of Awqaf (religious endowments) Mahmoud Hamdi Zaqzouq said he will not permit any political group, including the National Democratic Party, to use mosques for election publicity.

At a meeting with students from Egyptian and Islamic universities in Alexandria two days ago, Zaqzouq said that, according to law, political protests cannot be staged inside mosques, and offences of this kind are punishable by imprisonment.

Asked about the future for muezzins following the implementation of a plan to unify the call to prayer, the minister said there are only 728 muezzins in Cairo–not 5000 as claimed by some–who will be promoted, rather than left to work as security guards or cleaners.

On whether Muslim-Christan iftar (breaking the fast) will be held this Ramadan, Zaqzouq said this matter has yet to be discussed with Pope Shenouda III, who is currently receiving medical treatment in the US.

Asked about sex reassignment surgeries–more commonly known as sex change operations–Zaqzouq said such operations are permissible as long as they represent a medical necessity for the patient–a matter to be decided upon by physicians.

Speaking about the pilgrimage trips organized by election candidates for their electorate, Zaqzouq said these represent a form of bribe if intended to garner support in upcoming elections.

Zaqzouq also told students that the Khaled Saeed case has received “too much attention” and should be left to the judiciary to have its final word. Generally however, the minister said he rejects the idea of torture.

Zaqzouq also confirmed that calls he has made for Arabs to visit Jerusalem represent his own personal opinion as an Egyptian citizen, not as government minister.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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