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Even fatwas don't bring Egyptians out to vote

Religion has become an easily wielded political tool in Egypt, and the country's highest religious institution is now using it to fight low voter turnout in the parliamentary elections.
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CAIRO — The first round of Egyptian parliamentary elections, held Oct. 18-19, opened the floodgates once again for religious and political fatwas. Clerics from Egypt’s official religious institutions were at the forefront of these fatwas, which continue to be strongly condemned by the political Islam movement. The Egyptian Ministry of Awqaf dedicated the Oct. 16 Friday sermon to call upon citizens to vote in the coming elections.

On Oct. 19, Minister of Local Development Ahmed Zaki Bader even insinuated that those who were registered but refrained from voting without a valid excuse could be fined 500 Egyptian pounds ($62) in accordance with the Law on the Exercise of Political Rights. Yet nothing seems to be working, with voter turnout in the first round of elections, held in 14 of the country’s 27 provinces, coming in at less than 27%. 

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