Al-Azhar dialogue centre: Freeze with Vatican indefinite

Ahram Online, Friday 21 Jan 2011

Head of Al-Azhar's dialogue centre says that while freeze with the Vatican is to continue, dialogue with churches in Egypt will be strengthened

Al-Azhar will maintain religious dialogue with Egyptian churches and international organizations despite freezing its dialogue with the Vatican.

"Freezing the dialogue with the Vatican does not mean quitting a respectful religious dialogue with the Egyptian Church," Ahmed El-Azab, head of the dialogue centre at Al-Azhar, told the Ahram Arabic Portal.

Moreover, El-Azab stressed, the dialogue with the Vatican would not be re-established until the "aggressive West" stops giving statements and dictating practices and policy to Islamic countries without considering these countries cultural diversity, privacy and national identity.

Al-Azhar plans to bolster its dialogue with different Egyptian churches, especially the Orthodox Coptic Church which is the most dominant one in Egypt. "We will open the dialogue with all churches, they are all partners in the same land," El-Azab told the Portal.

Nevertheless, Al-Azhar has informed the Vatican embassy in Cairo of the Islamic Research Academy’s decision to freeze the dialogue between the two for an indefinite period in response to comments made by Pope Benedict, which presented Islam in a negative manner.

Al-Azhar scholars, along with many local Muslim organizations, welcomed the decision to freeze the dialogue. "The Vatican exercise political agendas in many Islamic countries, and Copts in the East don’t accept the trusteeship of the Vatican," said Abdel Moeity Baioumy, a member of the Islamic Research Academy.

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