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Egypt's Sisi reiterates importance of fighting radicalism to Muslim Council of Elders

President El-Sisi underlined that Al-Azhar, the highest seat of in Sunni Islam, has a key role to play in countering extremism and developing a moderate religious discourse

Ahram Online , Sunday 22 Nov 2015
President El-Sisi with the members of Muslim Council of Elders at Egyptian presidency in Cairo (Photo: Egyptian Presidency)

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi met in Cairo Saturday with members of the Muslim Council of Elders to underline the role of Al-Azhar — the highest institution in Sunni Islam — in fighting radicalism, the Egyptian presidency announced.

According to Egyptian presidency spokesperson Alaa Youssef, President El-Sisi stressed during his meeting with members of the council the urgency for Muslims to stand united in order to face terrorism.

The Muslim Council of Elders is an international independent organisation made up of mostly Sunni Muslim scholars. The council consists of 13 Sunni scholars and Sheikhs and one Shia scholar from Lebanon.

Based in the United Arab Emirates, the organisation, which was founded in 2014 to spread the spirit of dialogue and coexistence, is headed by Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar. The organisation's main message "is to restore the role of scholars and to use their expertise and knowledge to improve Muslim societies by helping to eliminate causes of tension and division."

El-Sisi asserted that misguided religious concepts of some groups are the true reason behind radicalism and terrorism. 

He emphasised that Al-Azhar has a key role in the renewal of religious discourse, a theme the president has repeated in recent months. 

The Muslim Council of Elders had held an urgent meeting in Cairo earlier on Saturday upon an invitation from Sheikh El-Tayeb.

During the meeting, El-Tayeb condemned all "terrorist" acts, asserting that terrorism has no nationality and calling for a moderate religious rhetoric. 

In January, El-Sisi said during the World Economic Forum held in Switzerland that the tolerant nature of Islam was not clear to the world because of terrorism.

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