Al-Azhar's Grand Imam Ahmed El-Tayeb (File photo: Reuters)
The grand imam of Egypt’s top religious authority Al-Azhar has condemned what he described as the “irresponsible” remarks recently made about Islam.
Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayyeb's statement, which was posted on Facebook in Arabic, English and French, is believed to be in reference to recent remarks made by French President Emmanuel Macron.
In a controversial speech last week, Macron announced that France has put in place a strategy to fight what he called “Islamic separatism” within the country, and said he would send a bill to France's parliament early next year to that effect.
El-Tayyeb said that the recent comments about Islam come at a time when effort are being made with “wise people in the West” to promote citizenship and coexistence.
He added that the remarks were made to achieve “flimsy political gains” at the expense of Islam.
El-Tayyeb warned against the impact of such remarks, saying “this uncivilised behaviour against religions builds a culture of hatred and racism and breeds terrorism.”
Macron’s planned bill would impose tighter controls on funding for mosques and severely restrict home-schooling to prevent children from being “indoctrinated” by unregistered schools that deviate from the national curriculum, the French president said.
The measures also include banning the appointment of imams from Turkey, Morocco and Algeria, who Macron are usually linked to Salafism or the Muslim Brotherhood group. He said the imams will instead be trained in France so they can learn the language and the laws of the state.
“There is a crisis of Islam everywhere, which is being corrupted by radical forms,” Macron said.
“The problem is an ideology which claims its own laws should be superior to those of the Republic,” Macron said, adding that he seeks to build an “enlightened Islam” in the European country.
In a statement on Saturday, Al-Azhar’s Islamic Research Academy, which works to reform Islamic culture and safeguard it from political and ideological intolerance, said Macron has directed “false accusations that have nothing to do with the true context of religion.”