Egypt's Al-Azhar denounces IS 'criminals'

The grand imam of Egypt's Al-Azhar Mosque condemned the Islamic State for its lethal actions and also accused the West of being complicit in the group's rise.

al-monitor Children play in the yard of Al-Azhar Mosque while their families pray inside the mosque during the holy month of Ramadan in Cairo, July 1, 2014. Photo by REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih.

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terrorism, saudi arabia, islamic state, islam, egypt, cairo, al-azhar

Sep 10, 2014

The grand imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, fiercely attacked the Islamic State (IS) yesterday [Sept. 8], describing its members as “criminals tarnishing the image of Islam.” He said IS and other terrorist groups are “products of colonialism serving Zionism.”

Tayeb's speech — which he gave while presenting Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal an honorary doctorate for Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz in humanitarian and social sciences at Al-Azhar University — was the strongest stance from the grand imam against this extremist organization.

Tayeb criticized Western countries in general, and the United States in particular, for slackening their fight on terrorism, as seen in comparison with their incredible speed in occupying Iraq and disbanding its army.

Tayeb praised the Saudi king, particularly “his constant efforts to fight the dark forces of terrorism that have burdened the nation and the whole world.”

He said, “The perpetrators of this kind of terrorism are not afraid of slaughtering, killing and beheading people, causing terror and fright and annihilating others in a savage way that history has never known before.”

He continued: "It is painful to see that these inhuman crimes are committed under calls for a caliphate and for regaining the Islamic state. They are done in the name of Islam, which is a merciful religion and peaceful one among all people — whether Arabs or Westerners, believers or atheists, humans or animals, plants or stillness. … It is really saddening to see that these criminals have managed to reflect this ugly and scary image of Islam and Muslims to the world. We even read that the spread of modern atheism and the new Western-Zionist hatred for Muslims and Islam stem from these intimidating images that are posted in the name of Islam and from these savage and immoral acts that are committed amid cheers praising God. If the enemies of Muslims all united then invested all their powers to plot against Islam, even then they wouldn’t reach the extent of harm that these terrorist organizations have done to Islam and Muslims and the degree to which they have tarnished their image in the eyes of contemporary Western thought."

Tayeb said, "These radical terrorist groups and whoever is behind them, whatever their names, pseudonyms or banners, are just new colonial products serving global Zionism in its new version and its scheme to destroy the East and rip the Arab region apart."

"The Western-American slackening to deter these terrorist organizations is enough proof of the above," he said. "Compared with the Western attack on Iraq in 2003 where they dismantled the Iraqi army in record time for fabricated reasons, under false pretexts, I am sorry to predict that these people do not understand the meaning of peace, security and human rights, except when security, peace and human rights involve white [people] only."

Tayeb said, "The point is not to elaborate on the contradictions of the West, or the wide gap between what it preaches and practices, but to recall that the custodian of the two holy mosques [Saudi King Abdullah], whose majesty we gather to honor today, had a strategic and accurate vision. Through this he managed to put the decision-makers in the West before their historical responsibilities, when he warned them, a few days ago, that this terrorism that they think is confined within the Arab countries will poke its malignant head into Europe in a month and in the United States two months later.

"This Saudi warning confirms an Egyptian warning previously stated by the president of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Commander Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, through which he channeled the world's attention to the Arab region, which is witnessing a systematic destruction in Syria, Iraq and Libya."

Tayeb's speech came a day after Saudi Arabia's mufti, Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, took a similar stance. In a Sept. 7 interview with Al-Iktisadiyya newspaper, Sheikh said that IS is "unjust and assaulting" and "wrong." He continued, "If IS fought Muslims, then Muslims must go out to fight evil and protect the religion and the people from their evil and harm. IS is evil and a scourge."

Two days ago, the Egyptian Minister of Awqaf Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa condemned the killings and lethality practiced by the terrorist IS against its opponents. He said, “The organization’s commitments are orchestrated by hidden hands, especially as they are organized commitments.”

In turn, the former grand mufti of Egypt, Ali Gomaa, described IS in a Sept. 8 speech, delivered before the student unions at the Institute for Leadership Development in Helwan, as "an unjust, non-Muslim and terrorist group that has nothing to do with Islam and that does not follow the example of the Prophet [Muhammad], whose companions asked him to kill the hypocrites but he did not as they are family."

Gomaa accused the United States of being “behind the preparation and orientation of terrorist groups in the Arab region,” and pointed out that the two parties “are two sides of the same coin and they aim to divide the Arab region again.”

Gomaa mocked the emir of IS and said, “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi bought a watch for $150,000, not to mention the luxury cars he owns. Where has he gotten all this money from?”

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