• 15:12
  • Wednesday ,10 December 2014

Muslims, Christians pledge to fight extremism at Al-Azhar conference

By Al Shorfa News

Copts and Poliltical Islam


Wednesday ,10 December 2014

Muslims, Christians pledge to fight extremism at Al-Azhar conference

Muslim and Christian representatives from 120 countries pledged this week in Cairo to combat sectarianism and extremism in the Arab and Muslim world and to urge the authorities in their countries to do the same.

Confronting radicalism and combating terrorism are collective responsibilities and must be shared by all sects and institutions in society, said participants at Al-Azhar's international counterterrorism conference, held December 3rd-4th.

"All armed factions, groups and sectarian militias that used violence and terrorism against the people of the nation, all the while -- falsely and slanderously-- raising religious banners, are groups that espouse evil ideologies and sinful behaviour and have no connection whatsoever to the true Islam," said the conference's closing statement.

"The terrorising of peaceful people, killing of innocents, transgression against property and money, and violation of religious sanctities are crimes against humanity, condemned by Islam in form and substance," the statement said.

Conference participants pledged to encourage their governments to adopt clear policies to combat extremist ideology, said Mohammad Muhanna, external relations adviser to Al-Azhar's Grand Imam, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb.

"This must be accomplished through the establishment of platforms for dialogue among the various social groups and identifying means to prevent youth from taking up takfiri views, because they are ultimately the segment that joins and fuels terrorist groups, and at the same time they are their nations' precious wealth and should be used to build and achieve prosperity for their countries," Muhanna said.

The emergence of independent opinions by unqualified individuals who claim to be religious scholars, disseminate incorrect ideas about Islam, and distort the Qur'an and hadiths, has brainwashed many youths and persuaded them that violence is the solution to their country's problems, he added.

"This is far-removed from Islam or any divine religion," he said, noting, "It is incumbent on governments to create a state of peace and social security which helps youth abandon these views and safeguards upcoming generations against this type of brainwashing."

Sheikh Abdulaziz al-Najjar, director general of advocacy at Al-Azhar, described his institution as an "impregnable bulwark" against extremist ideology.

The conference wants to send the world a message, he told Al-Shorfa: that combating the ideology espoused by groups such as the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) and al-Qaeda is the basis for protecting the national security of each country and global security.

"The development of mechanisms to combat this ideology must be a priority over any kind of military or security policy," he said.

The conference's closing statement also stressed that "harming Christians and people of other religions and faiths under contrived religious pretexts is a departure from true religion and denial of the rights of the nation and citizens".

"Muslims and Christians in the East are brothers and belong together to one civilisation and one nation. They have lived together for many centuries and are determined to continue to live together in sovereign, free and patriotic countries that achieve equality for all citizens and respect freedoms," it said.

Beirut's Maronite Bishop Boulos Matar said Islam's message is one of tolerance.

Therefore, groups that adopt a violent path in the name of Islam are imposters and have no connection to Islam whatsoever, he said.

"Uniting all citizens in Arab and Islamic countries to combat extremism through awareness programmes that are integrated into [school] curricula, in addition to conducting campaigns that put the concerns and problems of the youth among its priorities, would isolate and weaken terrorism and preclude it from recruiting new members because they would have learned about true Islam and how to shun violence and terrorism, which kill their countries," he added.

"Terrorism and extremism are a global problem and must be fought on a global, not just local scale," said Rushan Abbasuv, first deputy chairman of the Russian Fatwa Council.

This must be accomplished through the implementation of powerful and effective campaigns to promote the true Islam in all countries to combat the recruitment of Muslim youth, he told Al-Shorfa.