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Alleged Facebook mention in prayer call sparks Egypt outcry

CAIRO (AP) – Egyptians in a Nile Delta province are outraged after a cleric allegedly changed a line in the traditional Islamic call to dawn prayers to mention Facebook.

Instead of saying “prayer is better than sleep” twice, as he was supposed to, Shiekh Mahmoud Maghazi of Beheira province allegedly said: “Prayer is better than Facebook.” The issue drew nationwide attention when he defended himself against shouted accusations on one of Egypt’s most-watched television talk shows, called 10 PM, on Sunday.

The country’s Religious Endowments Ministry suspended Maghazi after locals complained last week, prompting him to launch a hunger strike and deny that he made the reference.

With over a quarter of the population plagued by illiteracy, Egypt’s talk show hosts play a major role in leading public opinion.