Al-Azhar’s Committee of Senior Scholars rejected on Tuesday the criticism accusing it of supporting or promoting extremism through its scholarly curriculums.
In an issued statement, the committee stressed that Islam forbids attacking human beings—regardless of their religion—or targeting places of worship.
Al-Azhar’s Committee of Senior Scholars is the highest Islamic board, presided over by the institution’s Grand Imam and composed of prominent Islamic scholars.
The committee held a meeting in the presence of Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayeb to discuss the criticisms and what they called a “campaign” by some media outlets and politicians against Al-Azhar’s teachings, in which the institution was accused of “nurturing sectarianism and terrorism.”
“Millions have graduated from Al-Azhar all over the world, and they were mandated to teach righteous Islamic teachings that spread peace and stability between Muslims and other people,” the committee’s statement read.
The committee stands side by side with the Coptic Church against the latest attacks, according to the statement.
A new social media campaign was launched in support of Al-Azhar on Facebook by dozens of young Egyptians, who said that they feel the biggest Islamic institution represents them and defends their identity.
A source in the campaign told Daily News Egypt that the campaign, named “Stand with Azhar!”, aims to highlight that “the raid on Al-Azhar targets the nation’s identity and it [the raid] accuses Al-Azhar of all social and political problems. However, the whole country needs to review its policies and education system.”
Al-Azhar faced a storm of criticism following the attack on two churches during Palm Sunday celebrations early this month, which claimed the lives of 45 people and injured dozens.
Criticism against Al-Azhar has increased by public figures and media outlets after President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s speech, which asserted the need to renew religious rhetoric and form a new body to fight terrorism.