CAIRO: UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova called on combating Islamophobia through school education, textbooks and teachers’ training, and stressed the role of Al-Azhar in constructing the defenses of peace Wednesday.
Speaking in a news conference at Al Azhar University Wednesday, Bokova expressed her “profound appreciation” to the oldest university in the Islamic World in “combating ignorance, poverty, distrust and the propagation of hatred, tension, and conflicts, as a historic platform of science, learning, dialogue and cultural coexistence, inspired by the tolerance of Islam,” according to a UNESCO statement.
The speech focused on UNESCO’s role in “promoting the culture of openness, positive communication and respect of others.”
She highlighted the role of Al-Azhar’s leadership in Egypt and in the whole world that “relies on knowledge and cultural awareness, as well as its increasing role in countering the current disturbances.”
Bokova indicated that UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites are the starting point of recognition of the diversity of cultural ties, “particularly the Islamic Heritage Sites in Historic Cairo that reflect the diversity and richness of Islamic history.”
Bokova is currently in Cairo participating in an international conference to combat the plundering and sale of antiquities by extremist groups in Middle East countries of political turmoil and armed conflicts.
Founded in the 10th century under the Fatimid Dynasty, Al Azhar is a leading religious establishment within Sunni Islam.