Youssef ElHosseiny Brings Debate to the Table: Praying Gama3a in the Playground


So, Egyptian host Youssef ElHosseiny dedicated a segment of his TV Show “Al-Saada Al-Mo7taramoon” to criticize the photos surfaced on the Egyptian social media of an elementary school practicing congregational (or gamaa3a) prayer led by their principal in the playground, that were originally posted with the captions “Islamic pride” and “Good for them.”


He made it clear that the point of his critique was that it was forcibly held in the playground, which is a place for recess, fun and games; not suitable, in ElHosseiny’s opinion, for praying. “There should be a place designed for praying, a corner or a small mosque, and who wants to pray is free to do so. But to pause all activities going on in school  for prayer…it’s not right.”



He started a very strong debate, with both strong and weak arguments at each side. Some instantly sided with the school, saying that what is wrong with people praying together in the playground for five minutes and “did we reach the point where we criticized schools for encouraging kids to pray?” kind of talk. Things went too far that people starting calling ElHosseiny “3adow el-Islam” (Arabic for Islam’s enemy).



Right after the conservative side had its say, leftists and others who found themselves siding with Hosseiny’s argument started with their posts about how being forced to pray in school ended them up feeling indifferent about praying, treating prayer like homework instead of feeling spiritual about it. Others found some sense in Hosseiny’s points of criticizm but ridiculed the way he presented his argument.



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