Friday, January 13, 2012
Azhar-declaration confirms it new independent stature
The Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar Ahmed El-Tayeb hosted a meeting on Wednesday devoted to “regaining the spirit of the revolution and completing its goals”, in the presence of some sixty political and religious figures. Among them were Coptic Pope Shenouda III; Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie; Prime Minister Kamal El-Ganzouri; potential presidential nominees Amr Moussa and Mohamed Selim El-Awa; the leaders of the Social Democratic, Wafd, Adl, and Free Egyptians parties; and representatives of the Jamaa Al-Islamiya; and Salafist and Sufi trends.
After the meeting a statement was released that was underwritten by all present at the meeting, that confirmed Azhar's commitment to a democratic society with equal social, religious and political rights for all citizens. It also included 12 points concerning the desired next steps of Egypt's revolution. The statement called among other things for the need to respect the parliamentary election results; the necessity that the military swiftly hand over power to an elected civilian authority and return to its role of defending the country’s borders; a halt to military trials of civilians, the speedy prosecution of former regime figures, full compensation for the families of slain protesters, an independent Egyptian foreign policy and an end to dependency on foreign powers.
Al-Azhar previously issued a document in July 2011 outlining its support for the establishment of a civil – non-religious – state. On Tuesday, the Grand Sheikh also issued a statement reiterating Al-Azhar’s stand on freedom of expression in both the political and cultural arenas. Presidential candidate Amr Moussa said after the meeting that the declaration showed that Al-Azhar was on its way to regaining its leading role among Muslims on an international level.