Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi weighed in on the recent debate on freedom of expression, following the comments made by French President Emmanuel Macron concerning cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad seen as blasphemous by Muslims.
Al-Sisi said that the 1.5 billion Muslims across the globe should not be held hostage by the actions of some extremists. Al-Sisi called for Islam’s reputation to be upheld alongside the spreading of tolerance, during an event to celebrate the Prophet Mohammad’s birth anniversary.
The President also called on critics of Islam to refrain from insulting the religion, adding that “attacking prophets and messengers is disrespecting the honourable values of religion.” He added that, if freedom of speech affected the feelings of others, “then it is extremism.”
“Muslims cannot bear the evils of a few deviated groups,” Al-Sisi said, “If you love Prophet Mohammad, be disciplined with his teachings.”
The President also added that he appreciates the role that religious institutions play in spreading enlightened understanding and correcting misconceptions, noting that “this effort must be redoubled.”
Freedoms should stop at the limits of other’s beliefs, he said, adding that the state will spare no effort in supporting clerics, and in providing the appropriate climate for them for the renewal of religious discourse
Al-Sisi also said that extremism cannot be limited to a specific religion, saying, “In all religions there are extremists who seek to stoke the spirit of discord and ignite the fire of anger and hatred.”