Al-Azhar to send moderate sheikhs to France to combat ‘extremism’: deputy
Al-Azhar deputy Abbas Shoman - YOUM7 (Archive)

CAIRO: Egypt’s Al-Azhar institute, the highest moderate Islamic Sunni body, is ready to send clergymen to France or train French Sheikhs to ideologically fight the terrorism and extremism, al-Azhar Deputy Abbas Shoman told AFP Monday.

He highlighted the necessity to “rectify wrong thoughts” adopted by the Islamic State group, via sending moderate sheikhs to Europe and opening an al-Azhar center in Frnace, following series of attacks that targeted Paris Friday evening when 129 persons were killed and hundreds injured.

Al-Azhar had advised French officials before the Paris attacks, that France is in need for moderate sheikhs, Shoman added, calling for French authorities to supervise those who are responsible for religious discourse.

The militant Islamic State group claimed Saturday its responsibility for terrorist attacks committed by eight suicide bombers at the Stade De France, the Bataclan concert hall, and Rue de Charonne at Paris, killing at least 129 people Friday evening. In the group’s statement, they said that Paris attacks are mere “first drops” of a rain shower.

Immediately, several Egyptian religious institutions strongly condemned Saturday the attacks, saying that “all religions disavowed terrorism.”

In the 25th round of the Higher Council for Islamic Affairs’ (HCIA) conference inaugurated Saturday in Luxor, Egyptian Minister of Awqaf (Religious Endowment) Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa said “Rectifying the wrong thoughts is not an easy way and the religious discourse is controlled by multiple factors that require a strong will.”

Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb said in his speech at the conference that “Paris attacks are chaotic, futile and totally far from any religion or humanity; it is time for all world to cooperate to face this ferocious beast.”

Egypt’s Church Council decried the attacks in a Saturday statement, saying that such attacks “will enhance international efforts to combat terrorism.”

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