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Amr Khaled and the spiritual chicken

Mashari Althaydi

Published: Updated:

Egyptian television “star” Amr Khaled, who has mastered religious preaching using an interesting approach in form and content, has once again stirred controversy.

Khaled has a religious program – based of course on his own approach – airing on an Egyptian satellite channel during the holy month of Ramadan.

What happened in brief is that during a cooking segment with a female chef, he tried to promote a poultry company by involving religion and saying that consuming chicken from this brand will increase spirituality.

This angered people or at least most people, which is quite expected. Khaled deleted the video and so did the poultry company that had made the advertisement agreement with him.

ALSO READ: After chicken-gate, Egyptians call for cancellation of preacher’s TV show

During the Hajj season last year, Khaled appeared in a video in his white robes and emotionally prayed for his Facebook followers while seemingly focusing on the mobile’s camera! This scene also sparked ridicule and criticism.

Amr Khaled first came into the scene in the beginning of the new millennium as a preacher in the fishing club in Cairo. Then he became the preaching star of satellite channels to the point that the Lebanese LBC television channel even signed a contract with him!

He and other Egyptian, Arab and Muslim figures then emerged as part of the new preachers’ or television preachers’ phenomenon or the Market Islam phenomenon as described by Swiss social sciences researcher Patrick Haenni. His book Market Islam was published in French in 2005 and was later translated to Arabic.

Perhaps the decline of Amr Khaled phenomenon is a repercussion of the relapse, which hit the Brotherhood after the Arab Spring disaster

Mashari Althaydi

Others of his kind

Khaled is like the Kuwaiti Tareq al-Suwaidan, the Egyptians Moez Masoud and Mustafa Hosni, the Saudi Walid Fitaihi and many others.

Each formed a movement that aimed to change the preaching rhetoric and employ religious energy in favor of ideas and perceptions, which they see as the truth. They have unthoughtfully used Quranic texts and invested in historical narratives to solidify these perceptions.

This phenomenon is retreating following the relapses of Amr Khaled and his friends and after the “Arab Spring” shook the political fig leaves which some of these preachers used to hide their Brotherhood political identity, like the case is with Tareq al-Suwaidan.

ALSO READ: Were Amr Khaled’s prayers genuine?

Perhaps the decline of Amr Khaled’s and his friends’ phenomenon is a repercussion of the relapse which hit the Brotherhood after the Arab Spring disaster; however we must not rush into making this conclusion.

According to a news piece published on May 5, Dr. Obeid Saleh, the president of Damanhour University, ordered suspending a lecturer in the education faculty for three months because he described Sheikh Muhammad Metwali al-Sha’raawi and preacher Amr Khaled as “imposters.”

Let’s put Sha’raawi aside, we actually agree with how Khaled is branded – although insults, if there are any, are rejected. However, to compare the two men and say “Sha’raawi is a great dignified scholar who is appreciated by all the Egyptians and so is Amr Khaled” when justifying why the lecturer was suspended is quite painful!

This article is also available in Arabic.

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Saudi journalist Mashari Althaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Althaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists. He tweets under @MAlthaydy.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.