Removing donation boxes from mosques raises controversy in Egypt

Cairo- The Egyptian Ministry of Awqaf sparked widespread controversy after its decision not to allow the collection of funds in mosques by cash, and not to place donation boxes in them, except for what is regulated by law regarding vow boxes.

While some supported the decision as an important step in the path of financial inclusion, fighting corruption and warding off suspicion, others said that it would deprive mosques of many donations because Egyptians are not accustomed to bank donations, especially small amounts, and will also lead to donations hand in hand away from the fund or bank account.

The controversy increased the short period of 10 days – given by the Egyptian Minister of Endowments, Muhammad Mukhtar Gomaa, to remove donation boxes from mosques, in implementation of the decision to ban the collection of donations or cash assistance.

The ministry stressed the imams and all endowment workers not to receive any cash amounts under any name, and to direct donors to the account numbers of the Mosques and Shrines Building Fund at the Central Bank of Egypt, the charitable donations and community service account at the Central Bank, and the official account of the mosque’s board of directors, if it exists.

Digital transformation and the fight against corruption

Head of the Central Administration for the Affairs of the Minister of Awqaf’s Office, Noah Al-Issawi, said that the decision aims to legalize non-cash payment processes and govern all financial matters and move with the state’s direction towards financial digitization and digital transformation.

Al-Issawi justified the issuance of the decision, in a telephone interview with the “A Final Word” program broadcast on the “ON” channel, that donation boxes in mosques were being used badly, pointing to the seizure of cases in some mosques bearing suspicion of corruption, and for that this decision was an investigation of the highest Degrees of transparency, he says.

The Director of the Office of the Minister of Awqaf clarified that the ban is for cash donations only, and did not prevent in-kind donations to mosques, which provide the urgent needs of mosques.

Noah Al-Issawi also pointed out the possibility of mosques receiving donations on their official bank account, noting that the 10-day deadline aims to give mosques an opportunity to open bank accounts that would enable them to receive donations.

Opposition to Sufi orders

The first criticism of the decision of the Ministry of Endowments came from the Sufi orders, where a member of the Supreme Council of Sufi orders, Alaa Abu Al-Azaim, said that moving the vow boxes and preventing the collection of their donations from mosques, and allocating a bank account to them, will cause harm to Sufism and narrow the noose on them, and they will not have any activity. Absolutely, because they get 10% of those funds and spend them on their activities.

Abu Al-Azaim added In statements to the Egyptian newspaper, Al-Watan, that many people donate to the vow boxes that are located in the mosques of the Ahl al-Bayt, and the intention to donate to the mosque is not specific to any party, whether endowments or the general sheikhdom of the Sufi orders.

A member of the Supreme Council of Sufi Orders indicated that it is not possible to allocate any bank account to the vow funds, because this will deprive many from donating to them, due to the lack of awareness among some of how to donate through bank accounts.

For his part, the Egyptian Minister of Endowments, Muhammad Mukhtar Gomaa, said that the decision to prevent cash donations to mosques did not include Sufi mosques, because the vow boxes in Sufi mosques have a law regulating them, explaining that the law stipulates that the amounts collected by the Ministry of Awqaf from vows, 10% of them go to the sheikhdom of the Sufi orders.

Gomaa indicated, during a telephone interview with the “Al-Hekaya” program broadcast on MBC Egypt (mbc masr), that he will discuss with the Sufi sheikhdom the possibility of transferring vow boxes to bank accounts similar to other mosques, stressing that he cannot take any action. The decision alone, because the law made the Sufi orders a partner of the ministry in the vow boxes.

The Minister of Endowments explained that Egypt has 143,000 mosques, of which 200 have official vow boxes, noting that before 2014, the total collected from the vow funds was 6 million pounds, and when governance was implemented, it reached about 30 million, noting that the vows funds It can only be opened with two keys together, one in the ministry and the other in the mosque, and one of them cannot be opened without the other.

Social media controversy

The pioneers of social networking sites in Egypt differed over the decision to ban donation boxes and be satisfied with bank accounts.

On the other hand, opponents of the decision saw that the abolition of donation funds prevents many charitable works that were financed by these funds, especially in poor neighborhoods. Away from funds that were subject to oversight, however limited.

Source : Egyptian media + The island + Social Media

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