Egyptian Foreign Ministry slams Turkish PM's criticism of Grand Imam

Ahram Online, Monday 26 Aug 2013

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan criticises Al-Azhar's Grand Imam for supporting what he describes as a 'coup' in Egypt

Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy (Photo: Reuters)

The Egyptian Ministry for Foreign Affairs has strongly condemned the latest statements by the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan, in which he criticised Al-Azhar's Grand Imam, Ahmed Al-Tayeb, Ahram Arabic website reported.

The ministry, in a statement, anounced that Erdogan's views are an insult, not only to Egypt, but all Muslims worldwide.

In a speech at the University Development Foundation on Sunday in Rize province, Erdogan reportedly condemned what he described as a "military coup" in Egypt, stating that he was "disappointed" to see the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Al-Tayeb, side with the "coup" leaders.

"Perhaps this insult raises doubts regarding the motives of Turkish officials' continued attack on Egypt and its [national and political] figures after the 30 June revolution," the foreign ministry statement read.

Al-Azhar institution is one of the oldest Sunni global authorities.

The ministry has called on Islamic figures in Turkey and the rest of the world to "strongly condemn this insult, and to protect the status of Al-Azhar, which is considered a beacon of moderate and tolerant Islam."

The foreign ministry's statement was released hours after the Egyptian Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam called on the Egyptian state, represented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to address all those who insult Al-Azhar and its Grand Imam.

''Any insult to the Al-Azhar institution in all its tributaries represents a threat to Egyptian national security," Allam said in a statement.

The Mufti, a state legal expert responsible for issuing Islamic rulings (Fatwa), stated that, "Al-Azhar's Grand Imam Ahmed Al-Tayeb's national role and efforts for Egypt are appreciated by everyone, both domestically and internationally."

Allam stated that all Egyptians recognise the historical role of Al-Azhar in its representation as a sanctuary for Egyptians and the Islamic world.

"Insulting Al-Azhar and its Imam is considered an insult to all Egyptians," Allam affirmed.

Al-Tayeb was one of the national and political figures who endorsed a 'roadmap' to democracy, along with the army, on 3 July following the overthrow of former President Mohamed Morsi.

Turkey has maintained its support for the deposed president and the Muslim Brotherhood, from which he hails, causing a rift between the two countries.

Last week, Egypt's interim cabinet critiqued a statement by Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan in which he claimed that Israel was behind the overthrow of Morsi.

The cabinet stated that Egypt's "Arabic and Islamic identities are clear and that "Egypt is running out of patience" as a result of Erdogan's repeatedly hostile statements towards the current Egyptian government.

Egypt has also recently cancelled joint naval exercises with Turkey, which were scheduled for October, to protest Erdogan's 'unacceptable' position on Egyptian affairs.

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