Al-Azhar slams Macron’s ‘racist remarks’

Published October 5, 2020
In this file photo, French President Emmanuel Macron attends a joint news conference with Slovakia's Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini at the Bratislava Castle in Bratislava Slovakia. — AP/File
In this file photo, French President Emmanuel Macron attends a joint news conference with Slovakia's Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini at the Bratislava Castle in Bratislava Slovakia. — AP/File

CAIRO: Scholars at Egypt’s prestigious Islamic institution, Al-Azhar, have denounced remarks by French President Emmanuel Macron on “Islamist separatism” as “racist” and “hate speech”.

Macron on Friday unveiled plans to defend France’s secular values against “radical Islam”, describing Islam as “a religion in crisis” worldwide.

“He made false accusations against Islam, that have nothing to do with the true essence of this religion,” Al-Azhar’s Islamic Research Academy said in statement late on Saturday.

Al-Azhar is one of the world’s leading Islamic seats of learning and Egypt’s highest religious institution.

“Such racist statements will inflame the feelings of two billion Muslim followers” around the world, and block the path to constructive dialogue, the statement added.

Al-Azhar said making “false accusations about Islam or other religions, such separatism and isolationism” went against the actual “reality of what these religions call for”. It also condemned those who exploit or employ “religious texts to achieve unsavoury purposes.”

Macron’s address came 18 months ahead of presidential elections where he is set to face challenges from the right, as public concern grows over security in France.

Macron was speaking one week after a man wounded two people with a meat cleaver outside the former Paris offices of the Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly, which the government denounced as “Islamist terrorism”. The controversial magazine has repeatedly published sketches of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

On Thursday, Azhar’s Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb voiced “immense anger” at the use by some Western officials of the term “Islamist terrorism”, without heeding its ramifications.

He said in a tweet that such terms constitute “an insult” to the religion and its followers, and warned against their use by officials, public figures and intellectuals.

Published in Dawn, October 5th, 2020

Opinion

Elite privileges
20 Apr 2021

Elite privileges

Elite bargains provide a powerful view of our political economy.
A conjurer of limitless hope
20 Apr 2021

A conjurer of limitless hope

Rehman Sahib came across as a battle-scarred soldier who was perpetually planning to regroup after a setback.
Cabinet lotto
Updated 20 Apr 2021

Cabinet lotto

To return to finance, the second change in the key ministry is interesting for how it differs from the first.
Election ex machina
Updated 19 Apr 2021

Election ex machina

Neither EVMs nor i-voting are new innovations, yet their use remains deeply controversial.

Editorial

Media blackout
Updated 20 Apr 2021

Media blackout

A free flow of information is the best way to counter rumour-mongering and fake news.
20 Apr 2021

Gas utilities’ reluctance

THE government has ‘ordered’ state-owned gas companies SSGC and SNGPL to remove impediments hampering the...
20 Apr 2021

Saudi-Iran talks

EVER since the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, ties between Tehran and Riyadh have been increasingly strained,...
19 Apr 2021

Vaccine shortfall

THE hope that the slew of Covid-19 vaccinations approved for use since the end of last year would vanquish the ...
Another package
Updated 19 Apr 2021

Another package

Sindh has not seen much development worth the name during the PPP’s more than decade-long rule in the province.
19 Apr 2021

Cricket triumph

TEAM Pakistan have a number of reasons to rejoice after their 3-1 T20 series win over hosts South Africa on Friday....