Monitoring Desk

Cairo

Egypt’s foremost religious body which is authorised to issue fatwas, Dar al-Ifta, decreed on Thursday that use of unregistered cellphone lines (Subscriber Identity Modules – SIMs) were ‘haram’ (forbidden by Islam), ‘so that they are not used for terrorist operations’.

According to a statement released by the body, all personal data must be specified and documented before a cellphone is bought. It maintained, ‘This comes in light of securing oneself and society’, referring to it as an important aspect of Islamic law’. The move, however, has perturbed rights activists who criticised the fatwa and feared the Dar al-Iftaa of becoming ‘another arm of state control’.

This is not the first time such a decree has been issued but the use of religious institutions to legitimise authoritative decisions had been demonstrated in the Al-Azhar Shiekh as well as in support of Coptic Pope’s for President Al-Sisi and other state institutions. Both the religious figures have openly supported Egypt’s ‘war on terrorism’. Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, the president, has also been calling repeatedly, what he terms, ‘religious revolution’, which he believed can also be instrumental in countering terrorism.