Al-Azhar slams Sydney Siege
Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam - YOUM7/Dina Romeiah

CAIRO: “Muslims respect laws and do not condone terrorist acts,” Egypt’s Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam stated Monday, slamming the siege of dozens in a café in Sydney.

“This terrorist act is not related to Islam no matter what its motives are. All Muslims condemn such extremist practices that are not sanctioned by the Islamic law, which rather calls for coexistence and peace and [bans] terrorizing people,” Allam, the head of Al-Azhar, said.

Allam warned that this “criminal act” of holding hostages might be used to entrench Islamophobia in Australia, and called on the Muslim community to cooperate with authorities “to achieve the higher interests” of the Australian people, as well as Muslims.

At the time of writing, dozens of people are still trapped inside the café, and numerous media reports have identified the captor as Iranian refugee Man Haroun Monis, who appears to be currently on bail on numerous violent charges including accessory to murder.

Al-Azhar, the largest Islamic Sunni reference in the world, has intensified its efforts to correct “misconceptions” that extremist groups use to recruit Muslims and justify their attacks against non-Muslims and Muslims alike.

On Dec. 3, Al-Azhar held an international conference in Cairo on countering extremism with 120 states participating in its activities. On Dec. 2, undersecretary of Al-Azhar Abbas Shouman and 11 other world faith leaders signed a declaration to eradicate modern slavery by 2010 at the Vatican.

Scholars of Al-Azhar have also released several studies refuting the Islamic State group’s religious reasoning of their actions, including enslavement and treatment of women.

Meanwhile in Australia, the hashtag #illridewithyou has gone viral with Australians from different backgrounds denouncing the siege and expressing solidarity with Muslims.

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