Pope-Grand Imam of Al Azhar: Egypt’s press enthusiastic and "political" comments

Al Sisi mediation praised for success of encounter. Amazement at the sobriety of the Vatican statement. A corrective measure for Islamophobia generated by the Islamic State. A reader: I believe in Pope Francis and his smile


Cairo (AsiaNews) - The first official visit of the Grand Imam of Al Azhar Mosque to the Holy See was given full coverage and proud headlines by Egypt’s press, with political rather than religious overtones.

Some papers like "Islam El Yom" (Islam Today) spoke in terms of  "political marketing" with the launch of the constructive and open dialogue "between the Holy See and the Office of Al Azhar" and the "agreement in the need to organize an International Conference on the theme of peace. " The Egyptian newspaper writes however, that the enthusiastic announcements on Egyptian side were greeted by a more silent and reserved Vatican, adding that the statement released by the Holy See only said that it was a "very cordial meeting".

In general, the Egyptian press credited Egyptian President Al Sisi for the encounter, who despite "the offenses by the Holy See" [those of Benedict XVI on the Alexandria bombings - ed] wanted to "overcome resentments in his official visit to the Holy See in 2014 ", making "this visit feasible".

The Holy Father's words about the "fundamental role of Al Azhar at this moment in world history" generated many comments on the role of religion "in dealing with fundamentalist thinking and strengthening dialogue and peace".

Egyptian newspapers quoted non-religious personalities, such as Egyptian writer Salah Issa who described this meeting as "extremely important because it will tend to decrease the tensions created by the fanatics of both sides". Salah sees the meeting with the Pope as one way to counter the "Islamophobia that has resulted from the savage crimes committed by Daesh".

The dean of the faculty of Islamic studies at the University of Al Azhar, Dr. Amina Nassir, says in a comment that "the meeting of the Pope with the Imam means the meeting of half the world's population."

The analyst Saaid al Lauandi believes that there is no better time for this visit "a time of high tension between Egypt and Italy".

Dr. Suad Saleh, a professor of comparative doctrines, with no small amount of courage dared to say that the time has come to "also open a dialogue with the third monotheistic religion, that is with Judaism".

A part of the traditional press - like Al Ahram - was content to report the news of the meeting by listing all the details, but without any comment. Interesting, however, are the readers' comments, including one by a person named Niaamat Al Fadi who writes: "I believe this pope when he speaks: his smile is visibly sincere".