Egypt's Grand Mufti says that Bitcoin should be banned by Islam

Sheikh Shawki Allam compared the cryptocurrency to gambling

Ramy Caspi
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The Grand Mufti of Egypt has explicitly prohibited trading in Bitcoin, explaining that it is forbidden in Islamic Sharia for the risks it holds, and it's been used to fund terrorists.

Sheikh Shawki Allam said the digital crypto-currency carried risks of "fraudulence, lack of knowledge, and cheating" and compared the digital currency to gambling, which is banned in Islam.

Speculators and investors have flocked to the digital currency in recent months as its price has skyrocketed.

Bitcoin began last year below $1,000 (£737) but reached nearly $20,000 before the end of the year.

The Grand Mufti said risks could arise because the virtual currency was not subject to surveillance by any centralised authority.

"Bitcoin is forbidden in Sharia as it causes harm to individuals, groups and institutions," the fatwa said, as reported by Egyptian daily Ahram.

He added Bitcoin can have a “negative effect on its dealers’ legal safety, possibly due to failure to publicly disclose such operations.” That lack of disclosure can lead to an "ease in money laundering and contrabands trade.”

Similar statements were issued from top religious figures in Turkey and Saudi Arabia, while other Middle Eastern countries seem to think cyber currencies are actually a great idea.