Al-Azhar to form scholarly coalition parallel to Saudi’s military alliance
Al Azhar mosque in Cairo, 10 March 2010/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

CAIRO: Al-Azhar will begin consultations next week to establish an Islamic scholarly alliance parallel to the military alliance announced by Saudi Arabia Dec. 15, sources at Al-Azhar told Youm7 Thursday.

The religious alliance will include scholars from the states party to the Saudi-led Islamic alliance to fight “terrorism,” thus far 34 countries.

Consultations will be carried out with the official religious institutions in these countries, in addition to “moderate Islamic intellectuals,” the sources said.

As the military alliance in headquartered in Riyadh, the religious alliance will be based in Cairo. Established in 970, Al-Azhar is the most prestigious religious institution in the Islamic world.

Since the 2013 ouster of President Mohamed Morsi, Al-Azhar has embarked on comprehensive efforts to curb “radical ideology” among Arabic speaking and non-Arabic speaking Muslims. In January 2015, President Abdel Fath al-Sisi called on Al-Azhar to launch a “religious revolution.”

The military alliance is the second announced by Saudi Arabia, as it has led another small-scale alliance against Yemen’s Houthis in the past months.

The coalition aims to fight “terrorism” in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt and Afghanistan, Saudi Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman said in a press conference. However, the governments and Syria and Iraq were not named in the coalition.

The alliance includes Gulf states, Egypt, Turkey, Malaysia, Pakistan and some Islamic countries in Africa.

Additional reporting by Loai Ali

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