Egypt’s prime non secular authority opens TikTok account
CAIRO – In a controversial move, Egypt’s Dar al-Ifta announced in a statement on Aug. 17 that it would set up a TikTok account to bring fatwas to a wider audience.
At the time of this writing, Dar al-Ifta’s account had over 11,000 followers. The account posted 13 video clips explaining religion’s views on sexual harassment and the killing of animals such as cats and dogs; others explained the meaning of “home” and some related to public affairs.
While some saw Dar al-Ifta’s establishment of a TikTok account as keeping up with modern means of reaching young people, others criticized it, saying the application was famous for its dance videos, which go against the morality of Egyptian society.
The site administrators were then asked to turn off comments on the Tiktok site.
Khaled Omran, secretary for fatwa affairs in Dar al-Ifta, told the Sada Al-Balad channel’s Tahrir Hall broadcast on August 18 that social networks have a huge impact on the culture and mentality of the public to be present on such platforms.
Dar al-Ifta’s announcement that it would set up a TikTok account came in the wake of a parliamentary decision to ban its use in Egypt.
Several MPs condemned TikTok for promoting ideas that violated social values and broadcast dance videos, which eventually led to the arrest of a woman named Hohos Creature for inciting immorality. Haneen Hossam was also arrested for human trafficking and incitement to debauchery by employing two girls to broadcast dance videos on TikTok. According to the indictment, Hossam sexually exploited the girls for sums of money.
Because of such incidents, TikTok has a bad reputation in Egypt. Parliament’s Communications Committee discussed many requests for information in order to block the application in Egypt, without success.
Parliament is expected to pass the so-called e-commerce law in a session in October. It is expected to provide a clear definition of the concept of digital identity and the applications of electronic signature technology in commerce through online shopping platforms.
Social networking site director for Dar al-Ifta Ahmed Ragab said in a Facebook post on Aug. 19 that the goal behind setting up a TikTok account is to counter vulgar thinking, such as Dar al-Ifta extremism and extremist counteracts terrorist thinking.
“There have been many calls to ban it inside Egypt, but such calls fell on deaf ears as the motion spread and brought many Egyptian women to justice,” added Ragab.
He said if all institutions and individuals created meaningful content, TikTok would be a decent war on vulgar thinking, as young men and women could choose between two paths instead of just having one vulgar path.
Human rights lawyer Tarek Khater told Al-Monitor on the phone that any party has the right to create accounts on social media platforms.
He stressed that if the sheikhs of Dar al-Ifta posted content condemning others on TikTok, this behavior would lead to harsh criticism and lead the public to refrain from visiting the Dar al-Iftaa account.
Khater questioned the ability of the Dar al-Ifta Sheikhs to create progressive religious content that supplanted mainstream TikTok content from the true audience of the Chinese application.
New Women Foundation human rights researcher Lamia Lotfi told Al-Monitor on the phone that Dar al-Ifta cannot face what it calls “vulgar content” directed against Islam and there is evidence of it that Dar al-Ifta has accounts on multiple platforms like Twitter and Facebook – and that didn’t stop people from offering other content.
She said Dar al-Ifta should not deal with any other content as its role is to spread another thought and present a correct religious discourse that opposes the vulgar content or the harsh thoughts of the political currents of Islam.