Cairo- The grand imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar Islamic Center, Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayyeb, has blasted individuals who link terrorism to Islam, following Islamophobic remarks by French President Emmanuel Macron and the recent murder of a French teacher.
According to AhlolBayt News Agency (ABNA) on Wednesday, Tayyeb tweeted that linking terrorism to Islam was a sign of ignorance.
Tayyeb ’s statement comes following the beheading of French school teacher Samuel Paty on Friday after he showed his students blasphemous cartoon images of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)
The grand imam of Al-Azhar also condemned the incident in a joint statement read out to an interfaith gathering of Muslims, Christians, and other religions in Rome’s Capitol Square attended by the leader of the Catholic Christians, Pope Francis, on Tuesday.
In the statement, Tayyeb emphasized that the religion of Islam was opposed to criminal activities and was innocent of terrorist crimes. He also emphasized that insults against religions in the name of free speech were not condoned, as they provoked hatred.
“I emphasize that insulting religions and attacking their sacred symbols under the banner of freedom of expression is… an open invitation to hatred,” the grand imam of Al-Azhar said.
Meanwhile, President Macron was scheduled to attend a memorial in honor of the dead teacher at Sorbonne University, posthumously presenting him France’s highest award, the Legion d’Honneur.
Macron vowed on Tuesday to intensify a clampdown on extremists. “Our fellow citizens expect actions,” he said during a visit to a Paris suburb.
A number of people, including two underage minors, have already been handed over to a court investigating the happenings leading to the killing.
As part of a crackdown against Muslims, French authorities have also ordered a six-month shutdown of the Grand Mosque of Pantin in a low-income Paris suburb.
Macron prompted a backlash on October 2 — before the latest incident — when he said Islam was “in crisis.” He made the remark during a speech in which he unveiled a draft law that would boost secularism in France, which is home to the largest population of Muslims in Western Europe. According to the draft law, some NGOs or organizations that allegedly “act against the law and values of the country” might be shut down or face tight financial audits.
French Muslims widely criticized the remarks and the planned law, voicing concern that the speech would trigger hate crimes against them.
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