'Reforming religious discourse a pressing issue in the Arab world,' Egypt parliament speaker tells Emirati officials

Gamal Essam El-Din , Tuesday 27 Feb 2018

Ali Abdel Aal
A file photo for Egypt's Parliament speaker Ali Abdel Aal (Photo: Al-Ahram Arabic)

An Egyptian parliamentary delegation led by speaker Ali Abdel-Aal paid a two-day visit to the United Arab Emirates on Monday and Tuesday, where they attended a plenary session held by the Emirati parliament – the National Union Assembly – to express solidarity between the MPs of the two countries.

Abdel-Aal was received by his Emirati counterpart Amal Al-Qobiasi, who said the Egyptian parliamentary delegation's visit reflects the strategic relationship between Egypt and the United Arab Emirates at all levels.

"I can say that the current relations between Egypt and the UAE have become so strong and speak volumes of the strategic cooperation and brotherly solidarity which now connect the two countries together, particularly in the area of fighting terrorism," Al-Qobiasi said.

Abdel-Aal and Al-Qobaisi visited the UAE's Sawab (Correction) centre, which is an American-Emirati initiative aimed at combating the spread of extremist and radical ideologies and thoughts on the internet.

"Not only does the Sawab centre help expose the extremist and perverted interpretations of Islam, but it also helps spread moderate and correct understanding of Islamic verses and traditions," said Al-Qobaisi.

Abdel-Aal said indicated that "reforming religious discourse has become a very pressing issue in fighting terrorism."

"As you all know, extremist and radical ideologies is the first step on the road to terrorism," said Abdel-Aal, adding that "it is true that security measures are a necessary tool in the battle against terrorist activities, but moderate and enlightened thinking has in recent years become essential in uprooting terrorism."

He also said that the "UAE's support of Egypt and its 30 June revolution against the Muslim Brotherhood was highly instrumental in fighting chaos and recovering stability very quickly."

In a press conference, Abdel-Aal answered some questions on Egypt's internal political conditions, saying that "some of those who announced that they would contest next March's presidential election did this only for propaganda purposes."

"Others said they would run [in the elections], only to withdraw later," said Abdel-Aal, adding that "this shows that they were not serious and that they did this just for tactical political and propaganda reasons."

Abdel-Aal also insisted that "there are no political prisoners in Egypt."

"We should not use the word 'detention' in this respect, because it is the rule of law that regulates arrest and imprisonment activities in our country," said Abdel-Aal.

Abdel-Aal and Al-Qobaisi also signed a memorandum of understanding on setting up an Egyptian-Emirati Parliamentary Friendship Association.

Egypt's parliamentary delegation also met with the UAE's crown prince Mohamed Bin Rashed Al Maktoum, stressing the necessity of forming an Egyptian-Emirati Parliamentary Association as soon as possible to serve the legislative and political agenda of both countries.

On Monday, the Egyptian delegation met with Abu Dhabi's crown prince and high commander of the UAE's armed forces Mohamed Bin Zayed. An official statement said the meeting stressed that the national security of both Egypt and the UAE is closely inter-connected and that the UAE considers Egypt an integral part of its national security."

Egypt's parliamentary delegation also visited the Abu Dhabi-based Hedaya International Centre for Combating Violent Extremism.

Al-Qobaisi explained that Hedaya (Guidance) was created to help fight radical and extremist ideologies in terms of reforming educational curriculums, rehabilitating the victims of terrorism, and guiding persons convicted of terrorist crimes to have a correct understanding of Islam.

The delegation also held a meeting with the UAE's Minister of Tolerance Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan.

The UAE's Ministry of Tolerance was created in February 2016, with the objective of spreading the ideologies of moderation, peaceful cohabitation, mutual support, and tolerance.

Abdel-Aal said that "in addition to terrorism, the Arab world is currently facing the threat of internal divisions and civil wars."

"The conspiracies in this respect were secret at the beginning, but they have been made public in recent years and we have to be ready at all times to fight them," said Abdel-Aal.

Abdel-Aal also met with the UAE's Minister of Interior Seif Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, where they discussed strategic cooperation between Egypt and the UAE in fighting terrorism, and the responsibility of the two countries in safeguarding the Red Sea and Bab El-Mandab straits because of their vital importance to Egypt and the Arab Gulf countries.

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