The head of Al-Azhar, Grand Imam Ahmed El-Tayyeb, has condemned statements by Burmese President Aung San Suu Kyi and Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban about the “risks” posed by Muslim migrants.
In a statement on Thursday, El-Tayyeb said the comments “take the world back to a time when religious totalitarianism and oppression spread due to the phenomenon of religious intolerance and persecution, until the term religious freedom emerged.”
The two leaders’ comments, after a joint meeting, were reported by the Guardian; they cited their concerns about increasing Muslim populations in their countries and stated that migration was one of the biggest challenges they face.
El-Tayyeb stressed the need to abide by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, which guarantees everyone the right to profess a religion and practice religious rites.
He also stressed the necessity of respecting freedoms guaranteed by international treaties to refugees and migrants, and called on governments to protect them from violence, exploitation and forced labour, and to avoid detaining them or returning them forcibly to their countries of origin, except for legitimate reasons regulated by international treaties.
The head of the Islamic institution demanded international institutions play a role in protecting religious rights, and find a decisive solution to remedy the disparity between the provisions of local and international constitutions and the real practices of some governments, adding that although the constitutions of more than 90 percent of countries contain clauses on protection religious freedom, some countries nevertheless restrict those freedoms.