Egypt’s Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed El-Tayyeb called for drafting an international legislation that criminalises acts of hate and discrimination against Muslims worldwide.
El-Tayyeb's call came at a ceremony to celebrate the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, which was attended by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, and other state and religious officials.
El-Tayyeb said cartoons insulting to the prophet "are an explicit act of hostility” against Islam and its prophet.
The grand imam's comments come amid a worldwide Muslim uproar and condemnation of comments by French President Emmanuel Macron on Islam as well as calls to boycot French products after Macron defended Charlie Hebdo cartoons deemed offensive to the Prophet Muhammad.
They also come after a Muslim student beheaded earlier this month a French teacher for conducting a classroom discussion on the cartoons, an act which was strongly condemned by Egypt, Al-Azhar, and Muslims worldwide.
Al-Azhar has also condemned the French president's charges that Islam encourages "separatism and isolationinsm."“Cartoons insulting our great prophet, which are promoted by some newspapers, magazines and even some policies, are absurd. They are a break from all moral restrictions, international customs, and general law."
The grand imam reiterated the condemnation by the Islamic world and religious institutions of the murder of the recent of French teacher in Paris, after he had exhibited anti-prophet cartoons in his classroom, calling the crime a “painful” incident.
“But it is most regrettable and extremely painful to see insulting Islam and Muslims becoming a tool for mobilising votes and being used in election markets,” he added.
“I am surprised the fire of strife, hatred, and abuse is ignited in countries that have long been chanting that they are the cradle of culture and incubator of civilisation,
enlightenment, science, modernity, and human rights,” El-Tayyeb said.
He added that these countries had their standards mixed up, as they “hold the lantern of freedom and human rights in one hand and hatred and fire in the other.”
El-Tayyeb urged Muslims in Western countries to “abide by peaceful, legal and rational ways to resist hate speech and obtain their legal rights, following the example of the noble prophet.”
He also called on them to “positively integrate into these societies,” adding that this kind of integration preserves Muslim peoples' religious and cultural identities and protects them from being drawn into the provocations of the far-right movements and racism, as well as political Islamist groups.
During the event, El-Tayyeb announced launching an international platform to inform people about the “prophet of mercy and the messenger of humanity” in many languages.
He also announced an international competition on the manners of Prophet Muhammad and his contributions on the path of love and peace.