Egypt Independent

Clergymen reject fatwa banning votes for Coptic candidates

Islamic scholars have condemned a recent fatwa by a Salfi preacher calling on Muslims not to vote for Coptic and secular candidates in the upcoming parliamentary elections, scheduled on 28 November.

Mahmoud Amer, a Salafi preacher, told Al-Masry Al-Youm on Friday that it is unlawful according to Islam to vote for a Muslim candidate who does not pray, a Copt, a liberal, a layperson, or former members of the dissolved National Democratic Party (NDP) whose electoral platform does not include implementing the Islamic Sharia,

Moderate Islamic scholars slammed the opinion, saying that it contradicts Islam.

“There is no holy text in Islamic law that forbids voting for candidates of the NDP or for a secular or liberal Muslim, because they are Muslims who cannot be declared non-believers," said Mahmoud Ashour, a member of Islamic Research Academy (ISRA), affiliated to al-Azhar. “As for Copts, they share the same rights and duties as we do.”

Ashour added that Amer should not issue fatwas on subjects that he is not specialized in. “This causes sedition in society, and al-Azhar is an institution that graduates scholars specialized in making religious fatwas,” he said.

The Islamic scholar Abd al-Fatah Asaker argues that Amer’s fatwa contradicts Islam because Islam does not empower people to prevent others from participating in political life, including nomination to elections.

“Anyone who offends any human being due to his belief is not part of Islam, the world’s greatest liberal religion,“ said Asaker.

“I tell the one who issued the fatwa that what he says is contradictory to the instructions of Islam, which tells us to talk to people in a nice way.”

Mohammed Abdallah al-Khatib, member of the Guidance Bureau of the Muslim Brotherhood, said that the Fatwa is groundless because those mentioned are Egyptian citizens, and their rights cannot be ignored.

“It is unlawful to force Coptic candidates to adopt Islamic Sharia in their electoral platform to gain votes,” said Khatib.