The Grand Imam of Al Azhar condemns the killing of Fr. Jacques Hamel in France
by Pierre Balanian

Ahmad Al Tayyeb offers condolences to the French president, the archbishop of Rouen, the victims' families and to the whole of France. The assailants "devoid of any sense of humanity." In Islam "there is the order to respect the sacred places of worship and the sanctity of non-Muslims”. Counter terrorism means also fighting “extremist thought” in Islam.

Cairo (AsiaNews) The Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Ahmad Al Tayyeb, the highest Islamic authority in the Sunni Muslim world, has condemned "the terrorist attack that took place in the Saint Etienne church near the city of Rouen in the north-east of France, which has caused the death of the priest and the injury of others during a raid on the church and the taking of hostages".

"Those who carried out this savage attack" - he continued in his statement released just hours ago - are devoid "of any sense of humanity and all the values ​​and principles of Islamic tolerance, which invite us to peace and to avoid the bloodshed of innocents, without any distinction of religion, color, gender, or ethnicity”. The leader stressed that Islam "commands believers to respect the sacred places of worship and the sanctity of non-Muslims".

The Grand Imam of Al Azhar calls for an "intensification of efforts and joint initiatives to deal with the cancer of terrorism that now threatens the entire world, destroys innocent souls and threatens world peace”.

He confirmed that the Mosque of Al Azhar will continue "its path in the struggle againstextremist thought by reforming the lexicon used in religion until terrorism is completely uprooted and withered at its source".

Al Tayyeb finally expressed his "sincere condolences to the President of the French Republic François Hollande, the Archbishop of Rouen Msgr. Dominique Lebrun and to the families of victims" as well as extending his sorrow to “our friend the entire French people”.

The Imam of Al Azhar met Pope Francis at the Vatican last May, after several years of chilly relations (see photo).