Al-Azhar imam suspended, apologizes for singing Umm Kulthum song

Ehab Younes
Updated 26 September 2017
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Al-Azhar imam suspended, apologizes for singing Umm Kulthum song

CAIRO: An imam at Egypt’s Al-Azhar University has publicly apologized after being suspended from his job and subjected to massive criticism for singing on TV while wearing his religious uniform.
“I appreciate the feelings of those who had been disturbed by my singing,” wrote Sheikh Ehab Younes on his Facebook page.
The imam was on an Egyptian talk show last week when the presenter asked him to sing a song in tribute to the legendary Arab singer Umm Kulthum.
Younes sang a few lyrics from her song “Lesa Faker” (“Do You Still Remember?”) as an orchestra played in the background.
But the incident landed him in hot water because he was singing while wearing his Azhari uniform: A turban and long thobe.
It triggered a backlash on social media, prompting Egypt’s Ministry of Awqaf to refer the imam for investigation. “I want to reassure my loved ones, and those who care about me, that I’ve been interrogated today, and I am fine,” Younes wrote.
“I appreciate your standing by my side, and I respect the Awqaf minister’s decision to suspend me.”
The ministry said Younes had been suspended from his work as an imam and preacher at Ali bin Abi Talib Mosque, which falls under the ministry’s authority.
Al-Azhar also condemned his singing, saying: “People in the Islamic world associate the Azhari dress with uniforms of religious scholars and students, thus it should not be worn when singing or performing any type of art, even if it is purposeful and upscale.”
Shariah Professor Mohammed Shahat El-Gendy told Arab News: “Islam doesn’t prohibit music that doesn’t move sexual instincts. So the problem with what the Azhari imam did doesn’t lie in singing Umm Kulthum, who has been presenting upscale art throughout her lifetime. “It’s the fact that he was wearing his uniform, and the dress of a scholar should be respected. When wearing it, he is a role model for other Muslims.”
But some intellectuals in Egypt said there is nothing wrong with an imam singing while wearing his scholarly dress.
On his Facebook page, writer Sameh El-Zahar listed the names of famous Egyptian imams known for their love of music.
“Sheikh El-Naqshbandi strongly liked Umm Kulthum and sang for her,” Al-Zahar wrote.
“Sheikh Mohammed Refaat was the most famous man of his time in his knowledge of classical music, and Sheikh Abdul Basset Abdul Samad was a distinguished oud player.”


Iraq carries out more air strikes against Daesh in Syria

Updated 25 May 2018
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Iraq carries out more air strikes against Daesh in Syria

  • At least 65 senior Daesh leaders live in Hajjin.
  • Hajjin is in Deir Ezzor province in eastern Syria, about 50 kilometers (just over 30 miles) from Iraq’s border.

BAGHDAD: Iraq announced Friday it had carried out air strikes against Daesh in Syria, the third cross border aerial operation inside a month in its war-torn neighbor.
“Iraqi F-16 planes carried out (Thursday) morning raids against the headquarters of Daesh terrorist gang leaders and an explosives depot occupied by terrorists in Syria’s Hajjin region,” a statement by Iraq’s operations command said.
A video released with the text shows a strike on a huge building surrounded by palm trees and a wall.
The images show the wall and the building collapsing simultaneously.
Several strikes have been carried out by Iraq or the international coalition since Thursday against the center of Hajjin, the last major area held by Daesh in Syria, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor.
At least 65 senior Daesh leaders live in Hajjin, the Observatory’s director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
Hajjin is in Deir Ezzor province in eastern Syria, about 50 kilometers (just over 30 miles) from Iraq’s border.
It has been surrounded since the end of 2017 by the Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters backed by the United States and France, Abdel Rahman said.
Several hundred prisoners are still held by the militants in Hajjin, he added.
Since April, Iraq’s air force has carried out several air strikes on Daesh held Syrian territory close to the border between the two countries.
Daesh seized a third of Iraq in 2014, before the government declared victory in December, but the military has continued regular operations along the porous Syrian border.