Egyptian scholar criticizes Salafist vote-ban fatwa


A prominent Egyptian Islamic scholar spoke out against a fatwa issued by a Salafist cleric that bans voting for non-Islamists in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

A former deputy of al-Azhar, the world’s leading institution of Sunni Islam and member of the Islamic Research Center, Sheikh Mahmoud Ashour lashed out at Sheikh Mahmoud Amer, a Salafist cleric and head of the Giza Governorate branch of al-Sunna al-Mohamadeya for issuing a fatwa that renders voting for certain Egyptian groups against Islam.

Amer had said that Muslims were prohibited from voting for Copts, secularists, and liberals as well as Muslim candidates who do not pray and who do not call for the implementation of sharia (Islamic law) in their programs.

He also included members of the formerly ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) on the black list, yet excluded what he called the “honorable” among them.

“Anyone who votes for one of those will be committing a grave sin,” the Egyptian daily independent al-Masry al-Youm quoted Amer as saying.

“Muslims should vote for Islamists or other candidates known for frequenting mosques in order to prepare for establishing an Islamic parliament.”

Amer added that even if some secularist candidates are not against applying the sharia, it is still prohibited to vote for them.

“Secularism is prohibited in Islam.”

As for Copts and liberals, he added, they can only be voted for if they are part of a list of Islamists and if they have declared their support for applying the sharia.

“In this case the voter is absolved of any sin.”

Shaikh Ashour described Amer’s statement as a joke rather than a fatwa.

“What he said has nothing to do with religion or science or humanity and is against everything Muslims believe in,” he told Al Arabiya Saturday.

Ashour explained that Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) himself made an agreement with the Jews in Medina and called for protecting the rights of Christians in any Muslim society.

Ashour added that several clerics issue fatwas without being qualified to do so.

“People should not listen to them since their fatwas have no scientific basis.”

(This article was translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid.)