Islam Beheiry: Al-Azhar is the source of all evil, the Salafis are mediocre

In his first interview after his program “With Islam” was banned, Islam Beheiry told Al-Masry Al-Youm about the reasons for stopping his program, expressing his anger at Al-Azhar and the Salafis.
Q: Why was your program banned?
A: It was because of pressures from a security body. In the beginning, Tarek Nour, the owner of the channel, did not stop the program. He only omitted five minutes from episode 21, in which I talked about Al-Azhar.
Q: What was omitted?
A: The part in which I addressed the president and said that Al-Azhar will never make the desired changes in the religious discourse. I also wondered since when was that institution considered sacred. Then Nour omitted seven minutes from the next episode, in which I criticized al-Azhar for filing a lawsuit against me. The next episode was not broadcast at all.
Q: Did you ask him or that security body why it was banned?
A: I did not need to. It is obvious. The Salafis have a green light from the security services to do and say whatever they want, everyday certain papers and websites attack me, and there are 48 lawsuits filed against me, regardless of whether I did something good for all Muslims in the world.
Q: Do you think your program would be broadcast again?
A: My program was not banned by an administrative or judicial decision. It was banned in violation of the Constitution and the law. I will win all the lawsuits filed against me and the program will be broadcast soon on another Egyptian channel. I will also make a similar program by the same name for an Arab channel, so that if it is banned again on one channel it will still appear on the other. Nobody can stop me.
Q: Is it true that you asked to meet with Al-Azhar Grand Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb to reconcile?
A: I do not care if Al-Azhar is satisfied or dissatisfied with my program. In fact, engaging in a battle with a single individual like myself means the institution is weaker than many think. All what Al-Azhar has been doing is publishing books full of myths and hoaxes. It is the source of all evil. As for the Grand Sheikh, I have refused mediation attempts for me to meet with him. He can come to me if he wants.
Q: What do you think of al-Tayeb?
A: He has done nothing. He did not declare IS to be infidels. He did not meet the president's call for renewing the religious discourse, although the president had called for it four times. The most important issue for this institution and its legal advisor Mohamed Abdel Salam, the real Grand Sheikh behind the scenes, is Islam Beheiry.
Q: And what do you think of Endowments Minister Mokhtar Gomaa?
A: They say he is a man of enlightenment. Nonsense. He is no different than al-Tayeb. If they admit that there are hadiths contained in Sahih Al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim that are abusive to Islam, I will stop talking in programs. I told the president in my program that facing terrorism cannot only be done with security solutions. The suicide bomber who blew himself up in Karnak was imbued with this heritage. As long as the four Sunni schools of thought are deemed good, and as long as all non-Sunnis and non-Muslims are considered infidels, Islam will beget more of the ilk of IS.
Q: What about your battle with the Salafis, who said you are an infidel and must be killed?
A: They are mediocre. They praise the army and the politicians. It is just a game they play. But the real danger comes from Al-Azhar and the Endowments Ministry. The Salafis have said before that I am an infidel and must be killed. 
Q: The Salafis claim you are supported and paid by the Church. Is that true?
A: Nonsense.
Q: What are their odds in the next parliamentary elections?
A: Ask the National Security Agency.
Q: Why the National Security Agency?
A: They are best friends.
Q: Is Saudi Arabia the largest supporter of the Salafi movement?
A: Saudi Arabia was built on Salafism. Our relations with this country should be strictly political.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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