Egypt's Sisi, Iraq's Abadi take steps to fight sectarianism

Ahram Online , Sunday 11 Jan 2015

Egypt's president and Iraq's prime minister say action must be taken to spread a message of tolerance and reduce sectarianism in the region

(Photo: Al-Ahram)

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Iraq's Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi agreed to take "tangible steps" between Sunni and Shiite Muslims to reduce sectarian tensions in the region.

The two also agreed on the necessity to renew religious rhetoric, Egypt's presidency said in a statement.

In their meeting on Sunday, the leaders agreed that spreading the message of toleration and peaceful coexistence and rejecting division between different sects is necessary in facing terrorism.

Egyptian presidential spokesperson, Alaa Yousef said El-Sisi welcomes Al-Abadi's efforts to entrench national unity among the Iraqi people. Egypt had repeatedly called for preserving the unity of Iraq after militant group the Islamist State wrested control of large swathes of Iraq and Syria in June.

Both parties stressed the role of developmental and cultural aspects in fighting radicalism, Youssef said. El-Sisi also implored the closure of Jihadi websites worldwide.

In a plea to "reform" Islamic thought during a speech in January, El-Sisi boldly declared Islamic ideology is in need of a revolution to spread an enlightened interpretation of the religion.

Both Egypt and Iraq joined a  US-led coalition to fight the Islamic State. Unlike Iraq, Egypt's involvement in the coalition is mainly logistical, shying from directly engaging in combat as other members of the coalition have.

Egypt's Foreign Minister visited Iraq in December.

In Sunday's meeting, which included Egypt's Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab, bilateral relations were also discussed, with Egypt expressing its will that Egyptian firms gain a larger share in Iraqi markets, especially in construction.

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