Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi issued a decree yesterday prohibiting senior state officials from travelling abroad without obtaining his permission.
The decision is to include the sovereign ministries and supervisory, judicial and security agencies and states that: "Permission for travel abroad on an official trip should be approved by the President of the Republic. This applies to the prime minister, deputy prime ministers, and ministers of defence, interior, foreign affairs and justice, as well as the heads of […] security agencies and their deputies.
Though not explicitly mentioned, it seems that Al-Sisi has issued the decree in a bid to penalise Ahmed El-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar – a prestigious university in Egyptian capital Cairo and the largest religious institution in the Islamic world. Arabi 21 explains that the decree includes "all those who hold a position as prime minister, namely the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar […] even though the position of Sheikh Al-Azhar is not subject to the government or the presidency".
Activists and politicians have slammed the move on social media, Arabi 21 adds, saying they "consider it a form of domination [which] infringes on the post of Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar and his status by forcing him to obtain "permission" from Sisi to travel".
Al-Sisi has been trying to crack down on El-Tayeb consistently. In December a statement entitled "the Islamic jurist who tortured us" was published on the front page of an Egyptian government magazine, which commentators interpreted as indicative of the long-standing feud between the two.