Al-Azhar Grand Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayyeb received French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian at the headquarters of the Al-Azhar sheikhdom on Sunday, and stressed that Al-Azhar would sue any offenders of Prophet Mohammed at the international courts.
The following quotes are statements made by Tayyeb during the meeting:
“If you consider insulting our Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him) as freedom of expression, then we reject it completely.”
“Insulting our Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) is totally rejected, and we will sue those who offend our noble Prophet in the international courts, even if we spend our whole life doing that only.”
“Europe owes our Prophet Mohammed and our religion for the light that they have brought to all humanity.”
“We reject describing terrorism as Islamic… Everyone should stop using this term immediately because it offends the feelings of Muslims around the world, and is a term that contradicts the truth that everyone knows.”
“The statement of the French foreign minister during the course of the crisis was respected and appreciated by us, and is a voice of reason and wisdom that we encourage.”
“Muslims around the world (rulers and ruled) reject terrorism that acts in the name of religion, and affirm the innocence of Islam and its prophet from terrorism.”
“Al-Azhar represents the voice of nearly two billion Muslims, and I said that terrorists do not represent us, and we are not responsible for their acts. I announced that in all international forums, in Paris, London, Geneva, the United States, Rome, countries in Asia and everywhere.”
“We want officials in Europe to be aware that what is happening does not represent Islam and Muslims, especially since Muslims are the ones who pay the price for this terrorism the most.”
“I am the first to protest against freedom of expression if this freedom offends any religion, not just Islam.”
“Transgressions are committed by the followers of every religion under various systems, so if we say that Christianity is not responsible for the New Zealand incident; we must also say that Islam is not responsible for the terrorism of those who fight under its name.”
“We here in Al-Azhar, in the past and now, are confronting terrorism through thought and education, and we have put in place new decisions and curricula that show everyone that terrorists are criminals and that Islam is innocent of their acts.”
“Mohammed (PBUH) is a mercy for us and you, and is an eternal light sent by God to humanity.”
“Is it wise to gamble with the feelings of millions of people for the sake of an offensive paper … I cannot understand what freedom is this ?!”
”I am open to dialogue and to work with you and everyone. But I say that insulting Mohammed (PBUH) is completely rejected.”
“People will not use dictionaries to verify differences between terms and their meanings. The terminology that you use offends all Muslims, and it is an inhuman act and is inconsistent with civilization.”
“We are ready to cooperate with you to correct misconceptions about Islam and fight extremist ideology in France and Europe.”
“We are ready to provide a special platform to introduce Islam and its correct rules to spread Islamic moderation and tolerance.”
Le Drian on Sunday assured that his country respects all religions.
Le Drian also met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, in the presence of Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and the French Ambassador in Cairo Stephane Romatet.
Spokesman for the Egyptian Presidency, Bassam Rady, said that the meeting dealt with means of strengthening efforts to confront escalating extremism and hatred in light of recent tensions between the Islamic world and Europe.
Le Drian affirmed France’s respect and appreciation for all religions, their principles and values, and his country’s aspiration to strengthen cooperation with Egypt to combat intolerance and extremist ideology which are gaining ground.