Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb welcoming former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in Cairo, Tuesday December 5 / Press Photo
CAIRO - December 5 2017: Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb met on Tuesday with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in Cairo to discuss terrorism and the impact of extreme ideologies on the world.
During the meeting, al-Tayeb affirmed that Al-Azhar, the highest Islamic religious authority in Egypt, adopts the culture of acceptance, pluralism and respect. “This is how Egypt became a model of coexistence between Muslims and Christians for more than fourteen centuries,” al-Tayeb explained.
He added that people are not obliged to follow one exact belief or religion, and that it is completely against God's will in the Islamic law (Sharia( to attempt to force one’s religious opinions on others. al-Tayeb also noted that violence cannot be linked or attributed to terrorism in the name of Islam, as the religion aims to spread peace and love.
Blair said that Al-Azhar should be considered as the basic reference for the world to understand Islam and its correct teachings.
He also praised Al-Azhar’s efforts to counter extreme ideologies and correct young people’s misconceptions on Islam around the globe. Blair expressed his hope to strengthen cooperation between Al-Azhar and the Tony Blair Foundation for Interfaith Dialogue, to educate young people about the dangers of militancy.
The former British Prime Minister is also the head of the Global Change Institute which is a non-profit organization, set up by Blair in December 2016 to promote the benefits of globalization.
Blair served as the British Prime Minister from 1997 to 2007.