Grand sheikh: Al-Azhar, NDP ‘compliment each other’

"I refuse to go to Jerusalem or the Al-Aqsa Mosque unless they have been liberated–otherwise, I would be recognizing the Israeli occupation," newly-appointed Al-Azhar Grand Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb told Al-Masry Al-Youm, urging all Muslims to do the same.

On whether he would take part in so-called "religious dialogue" conferences attended by Israelis, el-Tayeb said: "Only if the conferences are attended by Jews, as opposed to Israelis."

Replying to a question on whether he would shake hands with Israeli President Shimon Peres–as his predecessor, the late Mohamed Tantawi, once notoriously did–the grand sheikh said: "It is inconceivable to shake hands with the president of a state that occupies our sacred sites."

In an interview on the "Egypt Today" television talk show on Sunday, el-Tayeb said he planned to maintain Al-Azhar’s moderate position, which would be reflected in the curricula of Al-Azhar’s educational institutes.

Asked to comment on the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) opposition movement’s objections to his appointment as grand sheikh, el-Tayeb merely pointed out that the MB’s ideology was "different from ours."

In another interview on the "10 PM" television talk show, el-Tayeb stressed that there was no contradiction between his mandate as grand sheikh and his membership in the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP)’s influential policies secretariat.

"Al-Azhar and the party complement each other," he noted.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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