» 04/06/2013, 00.00
Egypt: Islamist Muslim Brotherhood set sights on al-Azhar
The Grand Mufti of Egypt criticizes Islamists’ attacks on authorities of the largest Sunni university. The great Imam al-Tayeb and the rector of the University are being investigated for the poisoning of 550 students. But according to AsiaNews sources the move is only a pretext of the Muslim Brotherhood to gain control of the institution. Al-Azhar cleric: "The Islamists are poisoning the minds of our students."
Cairo (AsiaNews) - "The
attacks on the Islamic University of al-Azhar endanger the safety of the whole
country." This was
stated by Shawky Abdel-Karim Allam, grand mufti of Egypt. In
an interview with Ahram newspaper the religious leader criticizes the climate
of tension between the authorities of the most important university and the
government of the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood. "Al-Azhar
- he says - is and will always remain independent. It has always served and
will continue to serve the whole country, at equal footing from all political
The clash between the institution
and political circles began on April 2 after the alleged poisoning of 550
students from spoiled food. The
case has sparked protests - within and outside the university - against Osama
al Abd, rector of the University, and Ahmed al-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar to
force them to resign. Talaat
Abdallah, chief prosecutor of Cairo, and a close ally of the Islamists, is leading
the investigation against two of the most important figures of moderate Islam. In recent months he was the protagonist in several
trials against activists and celebrities accused of offenses against Islam and
the President. This week, the University Council held a
special meeting to discuss the possibility of an internal election for a new
having the right to do so, in this way al-Azhar would also contravene the
custom that allows the head of state to appoint the president of the University.
Many leading University figures have
taken up the defense of Imam al-Tayeb, Osama al-Abd and the autonomy of
of them is Sheikh Ahmed Karim, one of the university's religious leaders. In an
interview with the Saudi network al-Arabiya he expressed his displeasure at the
"humiliation and insults" launched by Islamists and their media
against the Islamic institution. "
Al-Azhar has never been insulted like it was today, not from the French, the
Brits, not from the Turks, not from the Mamaleek." According
to Karim, the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies want to gain control of the
university: "The escalation of the situation has nothing to do with the
poisoning of students' stomachs but the poisoning of students' brains."
Sources have told
AsiaNews that the alleged poisoning
is only a pretext to tarnish the Imam al-Tayeb and his entourage, who were
accused of having hostile positions against the Islamist establishment. "The
great Imam - the sources say - has repeatedly stated in recent months what is being
trumpeted by the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis is not the real
sources explained that the attack against religious institutions is just the
latest attempt by Islamists to cope with the loss of support among the
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