The highest official of religious law in Egypt, Grand Mufti Shawki Allam, declared Bitcoin illegal today in an interview with online publication <a href="https://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/3/12/286399/Business/Economy/Bitcoin-trading-is-unlawful-pursuant-to-Islamic-Sh.aspx">Ahram</a>.
Allam says trading a "virtual currency" like Bitcoin goes against Islamic Sharia law and is not an "acceptable interface of exchange". The overbearing religious government is now trying to outlaw what amounts to ones and zeros inside of a computer in the name of Sharia law.
It is no surprise that digital currencies are making governments uneasy since the currency is decentralized and not tangible. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin do not represent an amount of gold or silver and presents a problem for governments who want to be able to regulate, restrict, outlaw and control whatever they want.
Currently, Bitcoin is the most valuable and widespread of the digital currencies and rose over 1,700% in 2017. On Monday, Bitcoin was valued at over $13,000, by Wednesday it was up to $15,000 after reaching a high of just under $20,000 at the end of last year.
Allam also said that both the "currency’s risk, as well as its high-profit potential, undermines Egypt's ability to maintain and stabilize its own currency." He also tried to say that Bitcoin can have a "negative effect on its dealers' legal safety, possibly due to failure to publicly disclose such operations," which he said would lead to an "ease in money laundering and contraband's trade."
Allam fears the use of digital currencies "impinges on the state's authority in preserving currency exchange, as well as its necessary supervising measures on domestic and foreign financial activities." Basically, the government can't control it so they want it outlawed.
He tried to tie religious reasoning into the ban by calling the cryptocurrency exchange "gambling," which is forbidden in Islam, "due to its direct responsibility in financial ruin for individuals." What about the financial ruin and loss of life carried out in the name of the so-called "peaceful religion"?
Doesn't the Egyptian government have bigger things to worry about besides taking money from its citizens? Egypt is sending a clear message in contrast to most other developed countries which have been considered digital-currency friendly such as Japan and Sweden.
The Central Bank of Egypt has repeatedly said the banking sector does not accredit cryptocurrencies and is likely going to fall behind the power curve as the financial world evolves without them.
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