Religious Discourse: from ‘Obligatory’ to a ‘Guideline’

Due to the objection of some religious figures to the decision of the Minster of Justice , No 2 for 2009, to regulate religious discourse ( the responsibility of the administration of Sunni and Shia endowments) the Justice Minister amended the decree describing it as a ‘guideline’ as opposed to being obligatory (Al-Ayam, 3 July 2009).

Justice Minister

The former regulations, consisting of 14 articles, called for religious lectures, lessons and preaches to ‘ promote national identity and defend its principles’ and ‘respect the principle of good citizenship and co-existence’ as well as ‘be considerate of other religious sects and respect diversity and avoid anything that would incite sectarianism’. The regulations recommended adopting a moderate approach, avoiding being biased when dealing with controversial subjects and being tolerant of others. This is in addition to calling for forgiveness, communication, dialogue, respecting others; as well as respecting the sanctity of human life, the belongings of others and their honor. Moreover, the regulations also called for respecting the rights of our fellow human beings, in general, and especially the rights of non-Muslims.

The regulations also recommended interacting with other civilizations and to not ‘insult present or past Islamic figures directly or indirectly’ and ‘incite people with religious rulings that consider others as infidels and lewd’. The regulations also stressed the necessity of ‘respecting human rights as affirmed by Sharia law and international conventions and not ‘manipulate religious discourse for the benefit of some political interests, parties or an election campaign’.