Thursday, January 20, 2011

Egyptian Sunni Islam's al-Azhar freezes talks with the Vatican: Response to Pope's defence of Christians in Middle East

Pope Benedict XVI (C) waves as he arrives for his weekly general audience on January 19, 2011 in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican.

Infamous Al-Azhar fatwa 2009 ~ church building compared to building a barn for pigs cats and dogs:

The Fatwa (Arabic) in question was issued by the Al-Azhar affiliated "Dar el-Eftta" -- Fatwa Council for Islamic interpretations of laws in Islam. It stated "the will of a Muslim towards building a Church is a sin against God, just as if he left his inheritance towards building a nightclub, a gambling casino, or building a barn for rearing pigs, cats or dogs." [LL]

To suggest that non-Muslims not be oppressed in the Islamic world is an attack on Islam and deemed Islamophobia. It is the risk worth taking ~ the alternative for the Pontiff is to sit idly by while Christians are bombed, slaughtered and face religious repression in Muslim nations.

The pontiff's words drew criticism from Egypt's top Muslim cleric, Ahmed Al-Tayeb of al-Azhar University, who described them as an 'unacceptable interference in Egypt's affairs.'

Cairo - Al-Azhar, one of Sunni Islam's oldest universities and mosques, said Thursday it has indefinitely suspended inter-faith talks with the Vatican in response to recent remarks by Pope Benedict XVI on attacks against Christians in the Middle East.

The decision was taken in light of Benedict's 'repeated negative references to Islam and his claims that Muslims persecute those living among them in the Middle East,' Al-Azahr said in statement sent to the German Press Agency dpa.

Responding to the announcement, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the Pontifical Council for Interreligious dialogue would 'collect the information necessary for an adequate understanding of the situation.'

'In any case the policy of openness and the Council's desire for dialogue remain unchanged,' Lombardi said.

Al-Azhar, which is a Cairo-based government institution, and the Vatican have previously cooperated to promote dialogue between Christians and Muslims.

This has included annual talks, the last of which took place in March 2010.

However, relations were shaken when Benedict earlier this month condemned a New Year's Eve bombing of a Christian Coptic church in Alexandria that killed 23 people.

The pontiff's words drew criticism from Egypt's top Muslim cleric, Ahmed Al-Tayeb of al-Azhar University, who described them as an 'unacceptable interference in Egypt's affairs.'

Last week Egypt recalled its ambassador to the Vatican following a speech by Benedict to foreign diplomats in which he again referred to the Alexandria attack as well as violence against Christians in Iraq.

The pontiff also called on governments in majority Muslim countries to increase efforts to protect their Christian populations.

In response, the Foreign Ministry issued a communique in Cairo that 'Egypt considers the latest statement by the Vatican to be an unacceptable interference in its domestic affairs.'

Official figures estimate that Christians comprise between 10 and 15 per cent of Egypt's population.

Monsters & Critics

1 comment:

gsw said...

But you have to admire their consistency.

Can you imagine a western leader turning around and telling a Saudi Royal that it was "none of his business how we treat our muslims"?

For that matter, I believe they would be prosecuted by the western judiciary for saying such a thing to anyone!