Today, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met with members of the ‘Muslim Council of Elders’ headed by the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Dr. Ahmed al-Tayeb. The Council is an independent international body that aims at creating safe communities that respect scholars, and that reinforces dialogue, tolerance and respect for the other.
President Sisi noted the significant role of the honorable scholars, particularly at this critical moment, in order to promote the true Islamic values of tolerance and moderation against any attempts to undermine them. The President stressed the great responsibility borne by the scholars to raise awareness among Muslims and to confront distorted extremist thought. President Sisi acknowledged the effective role Al-Azhar plays in nurturing the real values of Islam, as a beacon of moderation in the Islamic world.
The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar noted that a distinction must be drawn between the principles, culture and civilization of Islam and a minority that doesn’t represent the masses of peaceful Muslims who are open to people from different parts of the world. He pointed out the need to confront terrorist ideas through a comprehensive approach with the contributions of all segments of society and the state’s different sectors. This is in addition to renewing the religious discourse to reflect the true values of Islam and its jurisprudence. The Grand Imam added that it is imperative for all Muslims to avoid division and unite in the face of extremism and terrorism.
The scholars lauded the historic role Egypt has played, through Al-Azhar, in disseminating the real teachings and noble values of Islam, and is still playing to provide a counter narrative to distorted extremist ideas. They stressed the need to continue this leading role to serve the causes and defend the interests of the Arab and Islamic region in collaboration with all its countries.
The members of the Muslim Council of Elders reviewed the council’s efforts in combating terrorism and extremist thought. The Council dispatched peace convoys to a number of countries to promote tolerant Islam that denounces violence and hatred. The council members stressed the need to rectify the religious discourse, through a constructive dialogue, in order to uphold the fundamentals of Islam and address misconceptions that undermine it.
President Sisi noted that the current reality requires all Muslims to find common ground in order to resist attempts to associate Islam with terrorism and extremism, which is caused by the malpractices carried out by certain individuals and groups. He asserted that Islam respects the freedom of faith and worship for all, noting the importance of setting a good example and realizing cooperation among different peoples and cultures in an atmosphere of tolerance and mercy.