The Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Ahmed El-Tayeb, has announced that a document affirming freedom of expression, of belief, of scientific research and of creativity will be prepared, reflecting the vision of Islamic figures along with intellectuals and thinkers.
He said in a press conference on Tuesday that there are religious texts and constitution clauses that guarantee the existence of civil society and freedom of belief, without disrespecting religious beliefs. He also emphasised freedom of religious expression.
El-Tayeb said that equality of rights, duties and opportunities is important in having a civil society and condemned the groups that are forcing their own moral standards.
He also reflected upon the importance of freedom in all different forms of media and the right to establish political parties and civil society organisations.
The document gives the right for the obtainment of any information to express ones views, while giving respect to all three holy religions [Islam, Christianity and Judaism], in order to preserve the social fabric, national security and to prevent civil strife.
He pointed out that freedom of expression is the true face of democracy and would enable new generations to be raised accepting different points of view.
He also emphasised the importance of artistic and creative freedoms. as art deepens one’s awareness of the surrounding society. However, he said that art should also maintain respect towards religious values.
He added that the freedom for scientific research is essential for development, and that the Quran has stated that one should think about, measure and contemplate the universe.
He insisted that scientific institutions would be available for scientific research, and called for the Muslim and Arab nation to return to the race for knowledge and to improve its academic research, and end the western monopolisation of scientific excellence.
Senior advisor to the rector of Al-Azhar Hassan El-Shafei said in a press release today that the document has been in preparation for three months and that Muslim and Christian scholars and thinkers had contributed to it. He added that the Church did not oppose the document, while suggesting that media outlets present it for debate.