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Monday, 2 July, 2001, 12:13 GMT 13:13 UK
Egypt issues 'Millionaire' fatwa
Egyptian street scene
The show has proved popular with the Egyptian public
By Frank Gardner in Cairo

Egypt's highest religious authority has condemned the local equivalent of the popular British game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire?'

The Supreme Mufti's office in Cairo has issued a fatwa, or religious edict, calling the game show sinful and a form of gambling.

The fatwa quotes from a verse in the Holy Koran which calls on all Muslims to avoid gambling as an abomination and Satan's handiwork.

The show - known in Egypt as Who will Win a Million? - is one of several phone-in programmes now running on prime time Egyptian Television.

Sinful gambling

A trailer shows the presenter standing in front of the pyramids at Giza while men carry suitcases of money around in the background.

UK Millionaire winner Judith Keppel and host Chris Tarrant
The show has proved a huge success around the world
Dial up a number, answer the right questions and you could be one of the lucky contestants and win a million Egyptian pounds.

That translates into about $250,000, but for the religious authorities the figures are irrelevant.

As far as they are concerned, it's all sinful gambling because competitors have to spend money on phone calls without knowing if they will win or not.

Gambling is forbidden in Islam, and although Cairo's smarter hotels have their own casinos only non-Egyptians can use them.

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See also:

18 Jun 01 | Country profiles
Country Profile: Egypt
16 May 01 | TV and Radio
ABC halves showings of Millionaire
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