Al-Azhar head meets Prince Charles, Archbishop of Canterbury in UK

Ahram Online , Friday 12 Jun 2015

Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayyeb began his visit to the United Kingdom on Wednesday

Prince Charles
Archbishop Justin Welby and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar met with Prince Charles at Clarence House. Photo Courtesy of the offical website of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The head of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayyeb, met with Prince Charles in the UK on Thursday as part of a visit which has seen him address British parliamentarians and meet with the head of the Anglican church.

The prince, who is next in line to the British throne, expressed his appreciation for the grand imam as the most prominent, moderate religious leader on the international level, MENA reported.

He also acknowledged the role the Sunni theological centre plays in fighting extremist discourse and clarifying the real image of Islam as a religion of tolerance and peace, the state news agency said.

The pair discussed ways of using technology to promote acceptance of others and tolerance towards other religions.

Prince Charles had received an honorary doctorate from Al-Azhar University in 2005, in appreciation for his stance opposing the cartoons published by Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten which depicted Islamic prophet Muhammad. 

El-Tayyeb started his two-day visit to the United Kingdom on Wednesday when he met with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby at Lambeth Palace.

The relationship between Al-Azhar and the Church of England was established in 2002 to promote dialogue between the two faiths, according to the Archbishop of Canterbury's official website.

Also on Wednesday, El-Tayyeb delivered a speech to the British House of Lords.

He conveyed a message that Islam encourages peace and mutual interest, stressing that extremist thought has no place in the Islamic religion.

Speaking about relations between Muslims and Christians in Egypt, El-Tayyeb said that they have been living with each other for at peace for over fourteen centuries.

"All Egyptians are equal in duties and rights," he said, according to the Egyptian State Information Service.

The grand imam has recently visited Italy and the Netherlands.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi called in March in a conference at Al-Azhar's Cairo headquarters for a "revolution in religious views", saying that religious values of toleration in Islam must be promoted and warning that extremists and terrorists use religion for goals that are unrelated to the faith.

Al-Azhar is at the fore of a religious reform programme being drawn up to fight extremism. 

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