Egypt: Continuation of Dialogue Between Vatican and Al-Azhar, Authority of Sunnite Islam

Meeting at Cairo’s Nunciature

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The dialogue continues between the Vatican and the Al-Azhar Authority of Sunnite Islam of Cairo, Egypt, stresses a statement of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, this Tuesday, July 4, 2017.
“Following the previous Agreement of May 28, 1998, and in the light of addresses of Pope Francis and of the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed Mohamed al-Tayyeb during the historic peace conference at Cairo last April 28, the common engagement is express to pursue the shared reflections, geared to promoting a fruitful and effective inter-religious dialogue, centered in particular on the promotion of peace and the building of a more just world,” specifies the press release.
In fact, a meeting took place yesterday, Monday, July 3, 2017, at the Apostolic Nunciature in Egypt, between the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue (PCID) and Al-Azhar’s Center for Dialogue (ACD).
The ACD’s delegation was made up of the Sheikh, Professor Mohey al-Din Afifi Ahmed, Secretary General of Al -Azhar’s Academy of Islamic Researches and coordinator of the dialogue at ACD, and of Dr Kamal Boraiqa Abdelsalam, member of the same Center.
The PCID’s delegation was made up of Monsignor Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, M.C.C.J, “Number 2” Secretary of the PCID; of Monsignor Khaled Akasheh, chief of the bureau for Islam and of Father Jean Druel, O.P., Director of Cairo’s Dominican Institute of Oriental Studies.
Yesterday we reported a reflection of L’Osservatore Romano (July 1-2, 2017), putting forward an unpublished Bill in Egypt to condemn violence in the name of the Koran: it was submitted by researchers of Al-Azhar University to collaborators of President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi.
It was Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, who announced it. Thus the University seeks to put an obstacle to propaganda and violence perpetrated in the name of Islam.
The Bill aims to assert “the total incompatibility between violence justified by religious arguments and Islamic law,” to reduce manifestations of hatred and intolerance encouraged by extremists and “to propose again the principle of citizenship as the basis of peaceful coexistence between fellow citizens belonging to different religious components,” noted L’Osservatore Romano.
The committee that worked on the Bill, led by Mohamed Abdel Salam, legal adviser of the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, was constituted last May 13 and was made up of five experts, specialists in different legal sectors. In the redaction of the Bill, the Committee members took into account fundamental texts such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in addition to the Egyptian Constitution and criminal law provisions in force in Egypt.
Numerous observers believe that the initiative’s objective is to express a clear distancing of Al-Azhar from propaganda justifying hatred and violence in the Muslim community, comments the Vatican daily.
According to the Vatican Agency Fides, the text avoids entering into details of individual punishment to be inflicted on those that are responsible for instigating religious hatred: they will be specified by the legislative organ.
Al-Azhar has multiplied gestures of dialogue and peace these last years. The Pope received the Grand Imam at the Vatican on May 23, 2016. The following day, the Imam was at Paris, France, in front of the Bataclan, place of the tragedy of November 13, 2015, to pray and to reject terrorism.
Likewise, to reject terrorism, in October of 2016 a delegation of Al-Azhar went to the church of Father Jacques Hamel, murdered at Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen, France, the previous July 26.
The Pope himself went to Cairo last April 28: he took part at Al-Azhar in a conference of religions for peace alongside Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I.

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Anita Bourdin

France. Journalist accreditated to the Holy See press office since 1995. Started Zenit in french in january 1999. Classical litterature (Paris IV-Sorbonne). Master in journalism (IJRS Bruxelles). Biblical theology (PUG, Rome).

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