Al-Azhar and the Vatican have agreed to work together to combat terrorism and extremism after a two-day seminar on the topic in Cairo.
The gathering, which concluded on Thursday, came up with a number of recommendations, including fostering dialogue between the two institutions and tackling causes of extremism and violence which include poverty, illiteracy and misinterpretation of religious discourse, Egypt's state news agency MENA reported.
The meeting also urged concerted cooperation from the international community to "counter violent and extremist groups…eliminate hatred and hostility towards religions and the denigrating of religious figures—used as a false excuse for violent acts."
The talks, held at Al-Azhar headquarters, were attended by a number of Al-Azhar scholars including the head of Al-Azhar's Dialogue Centre, Mahmoud Hamdy Zakzouk. The Vatican was represented by the head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran.
Dialogue between the 1,000-year-old Islamic institution and the Vatican was frozen six years ago when Al-Azhar cut contacts over what it said were insults of Islam. This came after a denunciation by former Pope Benedict of a bomb attack outside a church in the Egyptian city of Alexandria on 2011 New Year's Eve, which killed 23 worshippers.
In May 2016, relations between the top religious institutes began to improve when Pope Francis met with the grand imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayyeb.