The protection of churches and Jewish synagogues is a duty for Muslims as much as the protection of mosques, said Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayyeb.
In statements to state-run news agency MENA on Saturday, al-Tayyeb said Al-Azhar is emphasizing this position after the church bombing in Alexandria on New Year’s Eve that left 23 people dead.
Al-Tayyeb described the attack as a “cowardly, terrorist” act, adding that a terrorist act is one that targets people indiscriminately and has no clear political objective.
Following the bombing, Al-Tayyeb announced that he will form a committee to focus on highlighting the value of tolerance in Islam and Christianity and on eliminating any causes of tension between followers of the two religions. The joint committee will include scholars from Al-Azhar and the Coptic Orthodox Church as well as moderate thinkers.
The idea of establishing the “Committee of the Wise,” as it will be called, was brought up a few months before the Alexandria church blast, he added.