Skip to main content

Egypt inaugurates hundreds of mosques amid smear campaign

The Egyptian government is opening hundreds of new mosques across the nation, brushing off Muslim Brotherhood accusations that the state is demolishing places of worship.
A bricklayer is working on a mosque construction site, it the new administrative capital, some 50 km east of the capital Cairo, on March 8, 2019 (Photo by PEDRO COSTA GOMES / AFP) (Photo by PEDRO COSTA GOMES/AFP via Getty Images)

CAIRO — Egypt inaugurated over 300 new mosques in several governorates across the country in September. This step comes in response to accusations by the Muslim Brotherhood and the foreign-based opposition that the Egyptian authorities have been demolishing mosques in a crackdown on illegal buildings, which caused widespread anger in several governorates. 

In a Sept. 3 statement, Minister of Religious Endowments Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa said the government would open and renovate 314 mosques in September and October.

The foreign-based opposition and the Muslim Brotherhood had launched a vicious attack on the Egyptian authorities, whether through their satellite channels or social media, after the demolition in May of nearly 30 mosques in Alexandria to make way for the construction of roads and bridges.

At the time, the Egyptian authorities said these mosques were built on state lands, whose demolition is part of its campaign against illegal construction, and squatting public and agricultural lands. The demolitions had raised the ire of Egyptians in several governorates. 

During the inauguration ceremony of a national project in Alexandria Aug. 29, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi responded to these accusations by saying, “We demolished 30 mosques, but we rebuilt them for the national interest and development — not because of what they had accused us of.”

Sisi expressed strong discontent with the accusations, which he considered far from reality and aimed at sabotaging the state and spreading sedition. 

Gomaa said during a telephone intervention with "Al-Hekaya" broadcast on MBC Misr satellite channel Sept. 12, that mosques and "zawiyahs" (islamic religious school) number nearly 140,000, and that Egypt would soon be called the country of "the 100,000 minarets." He added that Cairo is known as the “city of 1,000 minarets,” and therefore these “accusations are lame and unfounded, aimed to push agendas and stir up ill feelings and sedition, discord and instability.” 

“These evil people [a jab at the Muslim Brotherhood] are spreading lies and rumors to create chaos and sedition to stop the wheel of stability and development that Egypt is witnessing right now. Egyptians should not fall prey to this ruse and these false accusations. Over the past six years, 1,200 new mosques have been built, and nearly 3,600 mosques have been restored. This is a huge achievement that has not been done before,” Gomaa added.

Spokesman for the Ministry of Endowments Abdulla Hassan told Al-Monitor that new mosques are opened every day and listed on the ministry’s website. “These accusations are baseless and serve one purpose only — to undermine the stability of the country,” he said. 

Hassan said that Egypt is the heart of the Islamic world and Egyptians are religious by nature, and therefore promoting false statements and news is “evil.” “These accusations will fall on deaf ears. The revolution of June 30, 2013, was the death sentence of this organization,” he noted in reference to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Ahmed Karima, professor of comparative jurisprudence and Islamic law at Al-Azhar University, told Al-Monitor, “Egypt builds mosques and does not destroy them. Egypt is home to Al-Azhar, which is the heart of the Islamic world. So there is nothing to defend here or to apologize for. Egypt has done nothing wrong to be condemned.”

He added that the rumors about destroying or removing mosques are baseless reports aimed at spreading confusion by some “dark groups,” in reference to the Muslim Brotherhood. “A few mosques were previously illegally built, squatting public land and without the necessary construction license. It would not be possible to build places of worship in an illegal way. This is wrong and against the teachings of Islam and the law. These mosques were removed as per the provisions of the law,” he said. 

Shukri al-Gundi, undersecretary of the parliamentary Religious Committee, warned against these false accusations. He told Al-Monitor that Egypt has been facing a deliberate smear campaign by the foreign-based opposition to send the country spiraling into chaos and the unknown, and to stop the journey of development and construction.

He added that the state banks on the awareness of Egyptians and their willingness not to fall prey to these extremist ideas. “Egypt would never remove mosques,” Gundi said, denouncing these “ridiculous” accusations.

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial