Freedom of expression must respect beliefs of others: Grand Imam of Al-Azhar to Danish PM

Ahram Online , MENA , Wednesday 15 Mar 2023

Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed El-Tayyeb asserted that the freedom of expression ends when the sacred beliefs of others are violated in his meeting with Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen in Cairo on Monday.

 Al-Tayeb, Mette Frederiksen
Grand Imam of al-Azhar mosque Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb (R) meets with Denmark s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen at the historic Azhar mosque in Cairo on March 13, 2023. AFP


El-Tayyeb and Frederiksen met to boost bilateral ties, and discuss issues of mutual interest.

During the meeting, the Grand Imam of the Sunni world’s largest religious institution reiterated Al-Azhar's stance that freedom of expression must not violate the sacred beliefs of others, particularly what he described as a direct insult to Islam under the guise of free expression in the West. 

The statements echoed the response of Al-Azhar during the Danish Cartoon Crisis in 2005 when a Danish newspaper published cartoons that mocked Prophet Muhammad. This led to widespread campaigns boycotting Danish products and riots throughout the Muslim world.

El-Tayyeb also stated that Westerners have misused the term "freedom" to impose their views and values on Arab and Eastern cultures, citing the normalization of homosexuality through media channels directed towards the Middle East.

El-Tayyeb called for an end to intellectual and cultural colonialism and emphasized the importance of Muslims and Easterners upholding their morals and values, rejecting any insult to their religion or religious figures.

The topic of irregular migration was also discussed, with El-Tayyeb stressing the need to study the root causes and motives of young people, particularly Africans, leaving their countries for an uncertain future.

He called attention to the exploitation of the African continent's resources and the need to address these issues to prevent irregular migration. Frederiksen praised El-Tayyeb's efforts to promote peace, human fraternity, and coexistence.

She also lauded Egypt's efforts in tackling irregular migration, stating that the phenomenon requires collective effort to confront.

​Earlier on Monday, Frederiksen held a comprehensive discussion with President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, advocating for economic cooperation with Egypt, followed by a joint press conference.

Her visit concluded with a tour of the Giza Plateau. This marked Frederiksen's first official visit to Egypt and her second visit to the country in 2023, having previously visited Luxor and Aswan for a winter vacation in January with her husband.

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