CAIRO: Egypt’s Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, voiced Al-Azhar’s support to France against terrorism, noting that all people and countries should unite to ideologically fight extremism, according to a statement from al-Azhar Sheikhdom Wednesday.
During his meeting with French President François Hollande Wednesday, el-Tayeb said that Al-Azhar University has a center for learning French as a second language in order to understand other people’s cultures, the statement added.
Hollande has praised Al-Azhar’s role in fighting terrorism, asking Sheikh el-Tayeb to train French imams and scholars in Al-Azhar in exchange for expertise in disseminating the inter-faith dialogue, the statement continued. El-Tayeb is visiting Paris to open a Muslim-Catholic conference on East-West relations.
In February, el-Tayeb announced that Al-Azhar would form a center for religious dialogue under his personal supervision. The center will be concerned with disseminating the values of interfaith culture, co-existence, and enhancing Al-Azhar’s cooperation with other different religious sects.
Al-Azhar Sheikh met Monday with Pope Francis in a visit signaling a new step in Catholic-Muslim relations. The visit will have a positive impact and will improve relations between the two faiths after tensions during the time of Francis’s predecessor, Benedict XVI, the Undersecretary of Al-Azhar, Abbas Shouman said.