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» 04/06/2013
EGYPT
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 factions."

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 rector. Despite 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 al-Azhar. One 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 Islam." The sources explained that the attack against religious institutions is just the latest attempt by Islamists to cope with the loss of support among the Egyptians. (SC)

 


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See also
02/01/2013 EGYPT
Al Azhar offers a 'spiritual approach' to stop Egypt's violence
12/12/2012 EGYPT
Cairo, Muslim, Christian, secular and veiled women march for democracy
08/14/2013 EGYPT
As Muslim Brotherhood sit-in protests cleared, casualty figure uncertain
12/04/2012 EGYPT
Cairo, tens of thousands besiege the presidential palace. Morsi flees for safety
08/09/2013 EGYPT
Egypt's Pope Tawadros targeted by Islamists

Editor's choices
EGYPT - ISLAM
What Tayeb and Sisi said is big step towards a revolution in Islam
by Samir Khalil SamirThe grand imam of Al-Azhar slammed literalist interpretations of the Qur'an and the Sunnah, as fundamentalists and Islamic terrorists do. He supports the urgent need for Islam's reform, especially in terms of teaching lay people and clerics. He also calls for an end to mutual excommunication (takfir) between Sunnis and Shias. Egyptian President al-Sisi chose to fight the Islamic state group after it beheaded 21 Coptic Christians, whom he called "Egyptian citizens" with full rights.
SAUDI ARABIA - ISLAM
For head of Al-Azhar, religious education reform is needed to stop Islamic extremismFor Ahmed al-Tayeb, it is urgent to come up with new educational programmes to avoid "corrupt interpretations" of the Qur'an and Sunnah. Islamic terrorism undermines the unity of the Muslim world. He blames Mideast tensions on a "new global colonialism allied to world Zionism". a speech by the Saudi king is read at the conference.
HONG KONG - CHINA - VATICAN
It looks like someone is trying to shout us down
by Card. Joseph Zen Ze-kiunThe widespread optimism concerning the dialogue between the Holy See and China is largely groundless. Some Chinese bishops unable to speak freely are asked "leading" questions. The key issues remain unresolved, namely episcopal appointments and the fate of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. Benedict XVI's Letter to Chinese Catholics, also cited by Pope Francis, provides guidelines. No agreement is better than a bad agreement. What happened to Msgr. Cosma Shi Enxiang and Msgr. James Su Zhimin? Hong Kong's bishop emeritus, champion of religious freedom in China, delivers a vibrant reflection.

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
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