Unauthorized religious fatwa punishable by prison in new bill

The Religious Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives approved on Thursday the draft law regulating the general fatwa, which determines the parties mandated to issue fatwas and legislates sentences of no less than 6 months in prison and a LE5,000 fine for violators.

The first article listed the authorities exclusively specialized in this regard, which are Al-Azhar Council of Senior Scholars; Dar al-Iftaa; Majmaa al-Buhuth al-Islamiya (Islamic Research Academy); and the Fatwa Directorate of the Endowments Ministry.
The committee approved the draft law at its meeting on Thursday, in the presence of the Grand Mufti Shawky Allam; former Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa; Minister of Endowments Mokhtar Gomaa; and Secretary General of the Islamic Research Academy Mohey Eddin Gomaa.
Preachers and teachers of Al-Azhar University can perform the functions of preaching and general religious guidance to worshippers related to general Muslim matters, which is not considered emitting a public fatwa, the second article said.
The Committee merged articles 4 and 5 into one article, to become article 3, which defines penalties for violators of the provisions of the bill.
The practice of public fatwa is restricted to the authorities mentioned in article 1, said the old version of article 3, pointing out that media and social media websites can be used in this regard. The amended article does not mention social media.
The violation of the provisions of this law shall be punishable by imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months and a fine not exceeding LE5,000 or either of the two penalties. 
In case the violation is repeated, the penalty shall be imprisonment and a fine of no less than LE10,000.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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