The head of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayyeb, called on religious institutions in the East and West to act against Islamophobia, telling faith leaders at a Cairo conference that Islam “is not the reason for wars.”
El-Tayyeb was giving a speech to a conference on international freedom and citizenship in Cairo on Tuesday which is being attended by religious representatives from 50 countries.
El-Tayyeb argued that there are “obvious double standards” when dealing with violence committed in the name of Islam compared with that of other religions.
"It is very sad how a misguided group have strayed from the true principles of the religion and is mobilising the whole world against Islam," El-Tayyeb said, arguing that if religious institutions around the world did not collaborate to act against Islamophobia, Christianity and Judaism would in the future face the same prejudice.
He also told leaders that absolving religions of any connection with terrorism would not be sufficient, and that religious institutions must deploy the principles and morals of religions to face the deteriorating situation of the world.
El-Tayyeb said that Al-Azhar avoids using the terms “minority” and “minorities” and instead prefers to spread the concept of “citizenship”, which he said was a principle applied by Prophet Muhammad in the city of Medina, the site of the first Muslim community.
The conference, which is taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday, will also see the participation of the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II.
At the end of his speech, El-Tayyeb praised Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, under whose auspices the conference was held, for holding the conference at such a critical time.