Egypt's Al-Azhar on Thursday declared its sponsorship of an initiative aimed at ending Egypt's political crisis and stopping the violence currently taking place in the country.
The initiative was announced following a meeting held at Al-Azhar's Cairo headquarters led by Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed El-Tayib and attended by representatives of various political parties and Egypt's three churches (Coptic-Orthodox, Catholic and Evangelical) – including Coptic Pope Tawadros II – along with Salafist preachers.
The initiative is based on four main points: the sacred character of Egyptian blood; the recognition of diversity as the basis of Egyptian society; calls for media and religious leaders to denounce violence and call for peaceful protests; and the recognition of dialogue as the only way to resolve outstanding differences.
The initiative includes the following points:
1- The right to life is guaranteed by all religions and laws; there is no good to any a nation or society that fails to recognise the sacred character of human life.
2- Distinctions must be drawn between political action and violent criminal action, with an emphasis on the sanctity of public and private property and blood.
3- Emphasis must be put on the duty of the state and its security apparatuses to protect the citizenry, their constitutional rights and freedoms, and public and private property without breaching human rights and laws.
4- The denunciation – along with the legal and religious criminalisation – of violence in all of its forms.
5- The condemnation of incitement to violence.
6- The condemnation of all calls for violence, defamation of the other, spreading rumours against public figures and entities, and recognition of these actions as ethical crimes.
7- A commitment to peaceful means of engaging in politics and raising Egypt's next generation into a culture of peaceful political discourse.
8- A commitment to serious dialogue between different political groups, especially in times of crisis, aimed at reinforcing a culture of respect for diversity.
9- The protection of Egyptian society from sectarian and racist calls, illegal militant groups and illegal foreign intervention.
10- The protection of the Egyptian state is the responsibility of all parties: the government, opposition, the people, the youth, the elderly, political parties, groups and movements.
Among the political figures that attended the meeting were: Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the Constitution Party; Mahmoud Ezzat of the Muslim Brotherhood; Saad El-Katatni, Freedom and Justice Party founder; Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh, head of the Strong Egypt party; Younes Makhioun, head of the Salafist Nour Party; Amr Hamzawy, head of the Free Egypt Party; Ahmed Said, head of the Free Egyptians party; Hamdeen Sabbahi, head of the Egyptian Popular Current; Amr Moussa, head of the Conference Party; El-Sayed El-Badawi, head of the liberal Wafd Party; Abul-Ela Madi, head of the Wasat Party; and Ayman Nour, head of the Ghad Al-Thawra Party.
Representatives of Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya and its Reconstruction and Development Party also attended, along with prominent Salafist preacher Mohamed Hassaan.
The meeting, sponsored by Al-Azhar, was an initiative planned by several 'revolutionary' figures, including Wael Ghoneim, Mostafa El-Naggar, Islam Lotfy, Abdel Rahman Youssef and April 6 youth movement founder Ahmed Maher.
"The aim of this meeting is not political, but rather to launch an initiative to stop the violence. It's a moral initiative aimed at stopping the bloodshed. That is why Egyptian youth called on Al-Azhar to hold this meeting and gather together all Egypt's political forces and parties," Ghoneim, a prominent activist, declared at a press conference held after the meeting.
It was not Al-Azhar's first political initiative. Last year, the famous religious institute presented a similar initiative aimed at resolving the crisis over the drafting of Egypt's new constitution.