Al-Azhar invites Egyptians to participate in referendum and promises reform

Ahram Online, Thursday 17 Mar 2011

Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed El-Tayeb says that the institution will be reformed, to help it gain independence

Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed El-Tayeb has announced a new work programme, in a press conference today, to reform Al-Azhar.

El-Tayeb says that the programme will help Al-Azhar gain its independence and fulfil the values of the 25 January Revolution. He added that the programme will create legal, administrative, academic, scientific, financial and intellectual committees to help Al-Azhar fulfil these values.

The grand imam added that a legal committee, headed by legal expert Tarek El-Bishry, will begin amending Law 103 of 1961 regarding the reform of Al-Azhar. The committee will research how to improve the role Al-Azhar plays and how to secure its organisational and financial independence and upgrade its institutions. It will also research a transparent way to elect the grand imam, and the possibility of him having three deputies.

El-Tayeb added that the institution’s Supreme Ulama Committee will choose the grand imam, whether through elections or appointment, and will include researchers and intellectuals from Egypt and the Muslim world. El-Tayeb hinted that their may be a non-Egyptian grand imam in the future, but added that Al-Azhar was based in Egypt and it is better to have an Egyptian grand imam.

Earlier today El-Tayeb advised Egyptians to particiapte in the national referendum set for 19 March, to give their opinion regarding proposed constitutional amendments. When asked by Ahram Online his opinion about the referendum, El-Tayeb confirmed that he plans to vote but refused to say which way he plans to vote.

"I will go to give my voice, but I won't reveal if I will say Yes or No because there are millions of Muslims who follow Al-Azhar," El-Tayeb said. "But it is important for everyone to go to the polling stations whether they will say Yes or No."

El-Tayeb added that participating in the referendum is a patriotic and religious duty

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