Stop ‘insulting, humiliating’ top Sunni authority: Azhar cleric to Brotherhood

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Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood must stop “humiliating and insulting” the Sunni Muslims’ top religious authority, Al-Azhar, a cleric from the highly-revered establishment told Al Arabiya Wednesday in an interview aired on Al Arabiya’s Panorama program.

“Al-Azhar has never been insulted like it was today, not from the French, the Brits, not from the Turks, not from the Mamaleek,” Sheikh Ahmed Karima said.

The spat between the Brotherhood and the center of Islamic learning was heightened when the principle of Egypt’s al-Azhar University, Osama al-Abed, was dismissed on Wednesday amid student protesting after alleged food poisoning struck more than 500 students.

The university students surrounded the religious institution the same day to demand the grand mufti, Ahmed Al-Tayeb, also step down.

“I am saddened over the sacking of Osama al-Abed,” he told Al Arabiya, saying that he only expresses his “own personal view.”

Al-Abed was made to manage the university on his own with little resources amid student protests, Karima said, adding that this was because the Brotherhood-led government wanted to put more pressure on the sacked principle.

“Osama Al-Abed has worked hard during tough times… he had no deputies for the past seven months, he has managed the university on his own.”

If Al-Abed was dismissed, so should the Prime Minister Hisham Qandil, for he is also responsible of Al-Azhar affairs, Karima said.

The cleric accused the Brotherhood of exploiting the food poisoning incident, saying: “The escalation of the situation has nothing to do with the poisoning of students’ stomachs but the poisoning of students’ brains.”

He said the Brotherhood is bribing students and the Salafists were working hard to influence the students’ way of thinking.

“On Fridays, students are taken by buses to see Salafist sheikhs who accuse Al-Azhar of blasphemy.”

The cleric also accused the Brotherhood of giving a “militant man,” such as the Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniye, a platform inside the Al-Azhar establishment.

He said Al-Azhar will never forget the “martyrs” who were killed to liberate Sinai from Israeli occupation, adding he rejected Egypt be embroiled with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

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