World Bulletin / News Desk
In capital Cairo, thousands of Egyptians converged on the city’s most prominent mosques to perform prayers for the Eid, the three-day holiday that follows the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
In the coastal city of Alexandria, President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, accompanied by high-ranking state officials, performed Eid prayers at the Mohamed Korayem Mosque at Egyptian Navy headquarters.
Following prayers, which were broadcast live on state television, Osama al-Azhari, al-Sisi’s adviser for religious affairs, delivered a sermon in which he stressed Islam's rejection of extremism, which, he asserted, would be "expunged by the loyal people of Egypt".
Also in Alexandria, members of Egypt’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group, which opposes the al-Sisi regime, laid out prayer rugs for Eid worshippers in areas outside the purview of the Ministry of Religious Endowments (awqaf) despite a state ban against doing so.
In Alexandria’s Al-Asafra, Al-Muntazah and Al-Awayed districts, limited clashes erupted between worshippers and security forces after the latter forbade unlicensed prayer rugs to be laid out, reportedly leading to the arrest of about 30 people.
At mosques across Egypt, Eid sermons delivered by state-sanctioned preachers tended to dwell on the need to show compassion for the poor and show support for the state.
Unlicensed sermons delivered by Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated preachers, meanwhile, called for defending Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque and the need to fight injustice.
Egypt has been roiled by chaos since mid-2013, when Egypt’s powerful military establishment ousted Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first freely elected president and a Muslim Brotherhood leader, after only one year in office.
One year later, al-Sisi -- who as defense minister had spearheaded Morsi’s ouster -- assumed the presidency following elections that were widely seen as unfair.
In the three years since Morsi’s ouster, Egypt’s army-backed authorities have waged a relentless crackdown on dissent, killing hundreds and detaining tens of thousands of the ousted president’s supporters.