Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is causing controversy by ordering education officials to restrict verses from the Quran to Islamic religion textbooks in the schools of the predominantly Muslim nation. Sisi has ordered education officials to remove the same verses from the textbooks of all other subjects, a Ministry of Education official revealed recently.
Reda Hegazi, the deputy minister of education, added that the Egyptian president had asked the Ministry of Education to allow “moderate” schoolteachers only to teach Islamic texts to pupils at the nation’s schools. “This aims to fight extremism and prevent extremists from teaching religion to the pupils,” Hegazi told the members of the Committee on Defence and National Security in the House of Representatives (lower house of parliament) on 14 February.
The commands of the Egyptian president are the latest in a series of efforts his administration says are aimed at fighting “extremism.” The country has been seeing an upsurge in deadly attacks for several years by militants affiliated with the Islamic State (IS), despite Sisi’s campaigns against the group.
Sisi has asked educational and religious officials, especially in al-Azhar, the highest seat of Sunni Islamic learning, to reform school curricula and purge books of religious content that have allegedly been used by militants in justifying their attacks.
Al-Azhar, which owns thousands of schools and a university that has branches in several Egyptian provinces, says it is revising the curricula of its schools and colleges to remove content it deems problematic.
Now, however, it is apparently the turn of the schools supervised by the Ministry of Education to reform their curricula.