02/20/2017, 13.28
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Cairo, freedom of religion and state secularism at Muslim-Christian conference in al-Azhar

by Fady Noun

At the initiative of the Grand Imam Ahmed el-Tayeb, the Sunni University will host an interfaith meeting on 27-28 February. Lay people and clergy, academic and scientific figures, Christian and Muslim leaders will be present. Lebanese President Aoun, the only Christian head of state of an Arab country, has been invited.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – Religious freedoms, the civilian nature of the state, citizenship, equality before the law, and respect for diversity will be at the heart of the upcoming Islamic-Christian conference on 27-28 February in Cairo, convened at the initiative of Shaykh Ahmad al-Tayeb of al-Azhar University, the main Sunni religious body in the Arab world.

A large number of religious, academic and scientific leaders from the Arab world are expected at the event.

Lebanese President Michel Aoun has been officially invited, but his presence has not yet been confirmed. His attendance is considered important, by participants, since he is the only Christian head of state in the Arab world.

Conversely, the main leaders of Lebanon’s religious groups are set to come. They include the Maronite Patriarch Bechara al Rahi, Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III, the Mufti of the Republic Shaykh Abdel-Latif Deriane as well as representatives of the Shia Higher Council and the Druze community. Former Lebanese President Amine Gemayel is also among the invited guests.

The Al-Azhar conference follows a first meeting in 2014, during which significant progress was made on all topics. The latter will serve as themes of the upcoming work.

According to Mohammad Sammak, the second Azhar conference will be characterised by final documents adopted by committees that include both lay people and clergy as well as Muslims and Christians.

It goes without saying that the rejection of extremism serves as a backdrop to the meeting, which must put forward an enlightened and moderate Islam capable of interacting with modernity without recourse to violence, whilst remaining faithful to itself.


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