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An earlier fatwa request from a teenage girl asked“Communication between both sexes is allowed if the manners prescribed by shari'ah (Islamic law) are observed and it was for a purpose deemed valid by shari'ah, such as work, study and so forth,” the answer was.
He went on Egyptian television Monday night to discuss the fatwa, disagreeing that its inherently evil, and painting it in broader, poetic strokes of how any tool can be used for good or bad, or "Chatting is a tool or activity like the pen or writing,” he said, according to a translation. But watchdogs allege there has been a rise of enforcement of the religious line for political gain.“Recently, the Egyptian government has been using different authoritarian tools in the face of any one party that challenges the teachings of the official religious institutions, thus detracting from the rights of Muslims who do not wish to follow the government’s religious interpretations,” the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights said in a statement on Sunday.
The country that once made headlines for mobilizing a revolution over social media has just issued a major blow to online communication.
On Friday, Egypt’s top religious authority effectively ordered Muslims to sign off Internet chat platforms, banning instant online communication in one of the world’s most social media-friendly countries.
As attention on the Middle East focuses on the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, Egypt has forbidden online chatting between men and women to little media fanfare.
The country’s highest Islamic authority, the Dar Al Ifta, issued an edict with the explanation that chats are no longer allowed because “as many experiences in our present time prove that this opens the door for evil and frivolity, an entrance for Satan, and is a source of corruption and sedition,” according to a translation.
Such communications are allowed only in cases of necessity, the fatwa says.
Egypt’s clerics singled out the practice of sending photos to the opposite gender, barring women from sending such pictures to strangers in order to “protect [them] and [their] dignity,” and warning of “corrupted acts by deviants” who could misuse those photos.
(Just in time for the hacking scandal that hit female celebrities in America this past weekend.)“Chats between a boy and a girl who are strange to each other is prohibited because this opens the door to the devil and leads to illicit relations that are harmful to society,” a senior cleric at the country’s Sunni Islam institute told Gulf News On the religious authority’s website, users can write in about their personal use of Islam and request a conclusive answer, which serves as a fatwa.
The questions, of which there seem to be hundreds, are divided into categories and range from sexual relationships to fasting details and gender mixing.
The ban on chatting follows a similar edict issued earlier this year in a much more hardliner nation.
In January, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Al Khamenei banned online chatting between unrelated men and women by fatwa.
The issue has opened a divide between Iranian political and religious leaders in a country where they are intrinsically tied.“We cannot shut the gates of the world to our young generation,” President Hassan Rouhani said, according to state news.