Egypt’s top Islamic authority has outlawed online chatting between unrelated men and women, triggering quite a controversy, Gulf News reports.
The Dar Al Ifta, Egypt’s official agency dedicated to instructing Muslims on spiritual issues, said in its fatwa (religious edict) that the chats are “one of the tools of the devil and a way for spreading discord and corruption.”
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The Dar Al Ifta added that a woman should not send her photo to strangers to “protect herself and preserve her dignity.”
No more selfies, girls…
It also added that “moral deviants” misuse women’s photos to malign them. Which is practically ripped from the headlines (See: Jennifer Lawrence Target Of Public Paypal Blackmail Over Sexy Videos).
The fatwa was issued last Friday, in response to a question from a Muslim on Islam’s opinion on online chats, according to the Dar Al Ifta.
“From the religious point of view, this fatwa is sound, ” said Abdul Hamid Al Attrash, a senior cleric at Al Azhar University in Cairo. “Chats between a boy and a girl who are strange to each other is prohibited because this opens the door to the devil and leads to illicit relations that are harmful to society. It is necessary to comply with this fatwa.”
But Amnah Nusseir, a professor of Islamic theology and philosophy at Al Azhar University, Amnah told newspaper Al Youm Al Saba that “This fatwa is unrealistic. Social networking sites have become part of our life and cannot be denied. Chats could be religiously permissible or impermissible depending on their content.”
The fatwa restricts online chats to “cases of necessity.”
Well, where there’s a need…
Despite its good intensions, the fatwa is getting harsh and occasionally sarcastic criticism from young Egyptians.
“Chat is un-Islamic? Dar Al Ifta left everything illegal in the country and shifted its sights to online chats instead, ” Ahmad Al Sayyed posted on his Twitter account, according to Gulf News.
Hamada Barbari, another online user, tweeted: “Dar Al Ifta launched a campaign promoting offline virtue and prohibiting chat vice!”
Officials estimate that 37 million Egyptians, in a country of 87 million, use the Internet.