Shaykh al-Azhar announces Al-Azhar’s Declaration for Muslim Christian Coexistence at the conference hosted by Al-Azhar and the Muslim Council of Elders in Cairo.
On 28 February 2017, an international conference organized by Al-Azhar and the Muslim Council of Elders took place in Cairo, Egypt. The conference was titled ‘Freedom and Citizenship: Diversity and Integration’. The conference was organised to present Al-Azhar’s Declaration for Muslim Christian Coexistence, and to promote international peace. It was attended by around 600 delegates, academic figures, and Muslim and Christian religious figures from over 50 countries, with over 60 papers being presented on the theme of the conference delivered by the delegates, advocating the concepts of freedom, citizenship and coexistence.
Addressing the opening session of the conference, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and the Chair of the Muslim Council of Elders, Dr Ahmad al-Tayyeb Shaykh al-Azhar, encouraged religious institutions in the East and the West to confront Islamophobia which is cherished by radicals. The Grand Imam urged cooperation among people of different religions to disseminate religious values and principles of cooperation that renounce violence and promote citizenship.
In the final session of the conference, the Grand Imam presented to the conference the Al-Azhar Declaration for Muslim Christian Coexistence, in which he condemned the use of violence in the name of religion and called on people of different faiths to live together in harmony and with mutual respect. Additionally, under the declaration presented by the Grand Imam, Al-Azhar will continue working to establish relationships and lines of dialogue with representatives of other faiths and sects. The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar said that Al-Azhar will ‘strengthen the bonds of cooperation between religious entities, in order to promote religious and moral education and the principles of citizenship’.
In his speech, the Grand Imam stated that the principle of citizenship indicates the criterion to be applied to ensure the peaceful and fruitful coexistence between people of different faiths and religious communities. He explained the content and provided the key to interpreting the declaration in an articulated speech recalling the need to apply the principles of citizenship, equality and the rule of law to counter discrimination and ill-treatment suffered by minorities. The Grand Imam rejected the social and legal practices that constitute ‘double standards’ by discriminating against citizens on the basis of whether they belong to Islam. He further reiterated the incompatibility between true Islam and the acts of persecution against non-Muslims.
The Grand Imam denounced categorically the propaganda that aims to impose the false idea of a fatal link between Islam and terrorism, warning that the insistence on such a misleading stereotype opens the way for the criminalization of all religions, a goal pursued by ‘ultramodern’ sectors that peddle the cancellation of all religious affiliations as a necessary measure to ensure the stability of the so-called ‘advanced’ societies.