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.”


German firms end Iran projects amid new US sanctions

Updated 16 August 2018
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German firms end Iran projects amid new US sanctions

  • New US sanctions against Iran took effect last week and several European companies have suspended plans to invest in Iran in light of the US sanctions

BERLIN: German rail operator Deutsche Bahn and Deutsche Telekom are ending projects in Iran after Washington imposed new sanctions against Tehran and said firms doing business with Iran would be barred from doing business with the United States.
New US sanctions against Iran took effect last week and several European companies have suspended plans to invest in Iran in light of the US sanctions, including oil major Total as well as carmakers PSA, Renault and Daimler.
State-owned Deutsche Bahn is involved in two projects in Iran via its subsidiary DB Engineering&Consulting, a spokeswoman said on Thursday.
“Both projects will be ended in August and September 2018 respectively,” she said. “Due to the altered banking practice we have sought to bring the contract to an amicable and timely conclusion.”
Deutsche Bahn signed a memorandum of understanding with the Iranian rail operator Bonyad Eastern Railways (BonRail) in May 2017 for the first project, which aimed to identify and address potential in rolling stock and organization, she said.
The second project, which started around 1-1/2 years ago, was a consulting contract for Iranian state railway RAI that included restructuring the company, the spokeswoman added.
Separately, Detecon, a subsidiary of T-Systems — Deutsche Telekom’s IT services arm — has terminated its business in Iran, a spokesman said. Detecon offers consulting services to companies in the telecommunications industry.
“Until the decision to stop operations was made, sales in Iran in 2018 amounted to around €300,000,” he said.
“Given the sensitivity in relations with Iran worldwide, Detecon ended its business in Iran with immediate effect in mid-May 2018.”
The ending of Telekom’s involvement in Iran followed soon after the announcement that its US unit, T-Mobile, would buy Sprint Corp. in a $26 billion deal that remains subject to the approval of US regulators.