Grand Mufti Shawki Allam with Dutch Ambassador Laurens Westhoff - Press photo
CAIRO – 4 September 2018: The Netherlands's ambassador in Cairo has met with Al-Azhar Imam and Egypt’s Grand Mufti to explain his government’s opposition to a cartoon contest of Prophet Mohamed.
Freedom of expression does not justify contempt for religions, Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb told Ambassador Laurens Westhoff at Al-Azhar headquarters in Cairo Monday.
Tayeb said these “racist contests are detrimental to the integration of Muslims in Western societies, urging the Dutch administration to show a firm stance toward the promoter of such provocative ideas that are as dangerous to world peace as terrorist organizations,” according to a statement by Al-Azhar.
The Grand Imam also praised the Dutch government for disowning the like of such actions.
Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb with Dutch Ambassador Laurens Westhoff - Press photo
On Tuesday, Westhoff visited Grand Mufti Shawki Allam and explained that parliamentarian Geert Wilders, who called for the canceled contest, does not represent the Dutch government or people. He added that dialogue is the best means to resolve crises.
Allam called for legislation that forbid offending sacred beliefs, emphasizing that the actions of the far right stir division within societies, promote strife and nurture a climate suitable for extremism and destructive ideology.
The Mufti also presented Dar al-Iftaa’s efforts in fighting extremism by identifying extremist ideas and refuting them via several venues, noting that countering extremist ideology is a contemporary obligation that no one should deviate from.
In the two meetings, the ambassador expressed his country’s respect to the feelings of Muslims around the world.
On Sunday, the Egyptian parliament discussed the contest and strongly condemned Wilder’s repeated attempts to defame the Islamic religion.
On Wednesday, Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs Stef Blok called his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry to apologize for the contest, according to a statement issued by Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid.
Shoukry asserted that offending the beliefs of others is dangerous as it impacts relations between people of different religions.
On Friday, Wilders canceled the contest, planned to be held inside the Dutch parliament in November, over alleged death threats and protests in Pakistan.