Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood rejects al-Azhar reconciliation plans

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Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood on Saturday rejected dialogue calls by al-Azhar, the country’s leading religious institute, to resolve an ongoing political crisis triggered by President Mohamed Mursi’s ouster.

The country’s top Sunni Islamic authority said earlier on the day that it will begin contacting figures who have submitted initiatives to find a way out of the crisis on Monday.

However, Muslim Brotherhood leaders told the Turkish Anadolu Agency on Saturday they reject initiatives by al-Azhar to engage in dialogue and take part in the country’s upcoming presidential elections.

The Brotherhood leaders also accused al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb of supporting what the Islamist movement deems as a “military coup” against Mursi.

The Islamist group said it sets Mursi’s reinstatement a condition to join talks.

Imam al-Tayeb announced earlier that he will invite high-profile personals to a major meeting with the aim of formulating a unified initiative to break the political deadlock that engulfed the country following the July 3 ouster of Mursi, a source close to the imam said on the condition of anonymity.

Al-Azhar expressed optimism about the success of the meeting, and pointed out that some of the initiatives can be built upon to start a national reconciliation.

Several initiatives have been proposed by parties and public figures, including Mursi’s former Prime Minister Hisham Qandil, Islamic scholar Mohamed Selim al-Awa, and the Strong Egypt party.

The majority of the initiatives stipulate the reinstatement of the 2012 constitution and an election within 90 days.

The sources said al-Azhar will start by contacting the ultra-conservative Salafist Nour Party, the Strong Egypt Party and the moderate al-Wasat Party along with figures like al-Awa and Salafist preacher Mohamed Hassan.

A coalition of Islamist parties supportive of the deposed president said on Tuesday that it welcomes all local and international efforts to defuse the political crisis in Egypt, while insisting that the return to constitutional legitimacy is non-negotiable.

“Any initiative should respect constitutional legitimacy, mainly the reinstatement of the elected president,” said the National Alliance for the Defense of Legitimacy.

“We appreciate local and foreign calls for dialogue and calm, and stress that calm measures should secure the return of constitutional legitimacy first.”

The imam called on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr for all Egyptians to unite and put aside their differences and tolerance. He also stressed that the Egyptians are able to overcome the crisis and close the door to outside interference in Egypt's internal affairs.

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