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Egypt's top Muslim cleric blames terrorism on 'wrong teachings'

Head of Al-Azhar says terrorism threatens unity, calls for education reform

Ahram Online , Monday 23 Feb 2015
Ahmed El-Tayyeb
Egypt's head of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayyeb (Photo: Reuters)
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Egypt's top Islamic cleric has blamed the spread of extremist militant groups created in the name of Islam on the misinterpretation of religious teachings.

"The most striking reason, that I see, is the historical accumulation of extremist tendencies… that grew out of corrupt interpretations of some texts in the Holy Quran and Sunnah [Prophet Mohamed's teachings]," he said.

El-Tayeb said Sunday in an anti-terrorism conference in Mecca that a "control" is needed on the "chaos of [religious] rulings against other Muslims as infidels." Otherwise, there would be "no hope" for the Islamic ummah to retrieve its unity.

President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi called on Monday for a pan-Arab force to fight against "terrorism," most notably the Islamic State (IS) group that has taken over parts of Iraq and Syria and gained loyalists in other Arab countries including Egypt.

Egypt conducted air strikes in parts of Libya last week after IS revealed an online video showing the beheading of 20 kidnapped Egyptian Copts in Libya, which it claimed responsibility for.

Education reform   

Meanwhile, the Grand Imam called for introducing a special education curriculum for correcting "false and ambiguous concepts."

He also called for a conference of Muslim scholars where, he said, they would invest in the common values that unite them, while leaving each country's people to follow the teachings they agree upon. This is, he said, to achieve "social stability."

"I hope people follow the teachings they grew with that the masses have accepted and which Islam takes in," he said, emphasising the importance of a tolerant discourse rather than using differences to create conflicts.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab is forming a committee to study possible amendments to national security laws in order to remove websites linked to "terrorism," cabinet spokesperson Hossam Kawish has told Ahram Online last week.

Egypt has been battling a jihadist militant insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula for almost a decade, but the conflict has intensified over the past year. Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis militant group, which has claimed several deadly attacks – mainly on police and army personnel – pledged allegiance to IS last November.
 

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