11/17/2015, 00.00
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Al Azhar: Battle against the Islamic state must also be ideological

Islamic terrorism is not just about security: we need a control on teaching in mosques and among the imams to correct Salafi and literalist interpretations of the Koran. Al-Azhar offers to open an educational center in Europe, but also calls for "protection" from extremists.

Cairo (AsiaNews) – The battle against the Islamic State must also be an ideological one that includes the deployment of moderate imams in Europe and schools of religious formation to curb extremist interpretations of the Koran.

This is according to Abbas Shoman, deputy sheikh of al-Azhar University, the most prestigious institution in the Sunni world.

In an interview with AFP, he points out that Islamic extremism must be fought not only in terms of security, but also intellectually. Shoman says Europe and France need moderate imams. "Those who control the religious discourse, they and their concerns need to be reviewed," he said. "What must be ascertained - he added – is that those who are responsible for religious discourse are not helping the spread of terrorism".

For months, Al-Azhar University has pitted itself against the Islamic State and all those who justify their violence through the Koran. Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb condemned the executions carried out by the IS – the Jordanian pilot who was burnt alive and the 13 young Copts beheaded in Libya.

In Mecca, last February he had urged a radical reform of religious education among Muslims to contain the spread of religious extremism, branding  literalist interpretation of the Koran "false concepts and ambiguous”, which is typical of the Islamic State and other Islamic nations.

Abbas Shoman says the fair number of Europeans who have joined the IS - at least 4 thousand - shows that an extremist preaching is spreading on the continent. "These people - he explained - are lacking in Islamic education, they practice their religion for a short time and believe that they are carrying out a jihad (holy war)."

Shoman has suggested a center of education for imams based in France, to contrast the Salafi and literalist vision of the  Islamic faith. But - he added - teachers at such a center  will need "protection" from extremists.

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