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Egypt Clamps Down on Mosques to Control Message

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Egyptian authorities are tightening control on mosques around the country, purging preachers and seeking to control the message, as the military-backed government cracks down on Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood following his ouster last summer. (April 16)

SHOTLIST:

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Cairo - April 14, 2014

1. Various of mosque minarets UPSOUND: call to prayer

Cairo - April 15, 2014

2. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Yousry El-Azabawy, Political Analyst at Al-Ahram Centre for Strategic and Political Studies: (see script)

Cairo - April 11, 2014

3. Pan from El Fiky to worshippers performing Friday prayers

4. Various of men praying

5. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Abdel Kerim Ahmed, mosque manager: (see script)

6. Interior of mosque and imam Tarek Mohamed El Fiky, delivering Friday sermon

7. Mid of worshippers inside mosque listening to Friday sermon

8. Close of a man listening to Friday sermon

9. Mid of El Fiky, preaching to worshippers

10.SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Tarek Mohamed El Fiky, imam: (see script)

11. Wide of men praying

Cairo - April 14, 2014

12. Wide of mosque minarets UPSOUND: call to prayer

VOICE-OVER SCRIPT:

EGYPTIAN AUTHORITIES ARE TIGHTENING CONTROL ON MOSQUES AROUND THE COUNTRY

THEY ARE SEEKING TO REGULATE THEIR MESSAGE AND REMOVE PREACHERS THAT DON'T COMPLY.

ESPECIALLY IN THOUSANDS OF SMALL RELIGIOUS CENTERS KNOWN AS 'ZAWAYA'.

SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Yousry El-Azabawy, Political Analyst at Al-Ahram Centre for Strategic and Political Studies:

"There were a number of reasons that forced the Egyptian government and the Ministry of Religious Endowment to impose a complete control over the 'zawaya' because the 'zawaya' were an incubator for extremism and extreme groups."

OFFICIALS SAY THE AIM IS TO PREVENT MOSQUES FROM SERVING THE AGENDAS OF POLITICAL PARTIES.

AS ISLAMIST CLERICS WOULD OFTEN SWAY A VOTE IN THE BROTHERHOOD'S FAVOR SAYING IT'S A VOTE SUPPORTED BY GOD.

SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Abdel Kerim Ahmed, mosque manager:

"We should not allow just any cleric to preach. We have no problem with any imam whether he is from Muslim Brotherhood or Salafi or any other, as long as he preaches in accordance and adhering to the teaching of Islam."

OFFICIALS HAVE SET STRICT GUIDELINES FOR SERMONS AVAILABLE ONLINE.

WHERE THEY SET EACH WEEKS' MAIN TOPIC AND QURANIC VERSUS TO BE DISCUSSED.

DELIVERING A SINGLE SHADE OF ISLAM TO THE PUBLIC.

SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Tarek Mohamed El Fiky, imam:

"I would agree (with the government's decision) where the preachers that talked about politics or domestic affairs and tried to convince people inside the mosque of a certain idea are concerned, but for those clerics who didn't do that, I feel that they were oppressed."

IT IS NOT CLEAR IF THE GOVERNMENT WILL BE ABLE TO ENFORCE THEIR POLICIES TO EGYPT'S MORE THAN 100,000 MOSQUES.

SALIM ESSAID, ASSOCIATED PRESS

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