The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmad Al-Tayeb and Coptic Pope Tawadros II inaugurated the international conference for countering extremism and terrorism in Cairo Wednesday.
The conference was opened in the presence of an international array of religious scholars.
It comes as part of government-led efforts to counter the emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS). Egypt has joined the international coalition to fight the ISIS existence in Iraq and Syria.
ISIS affiliate ‘State of Sinai’, formerly known as Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis, has killed hundreds of people over the past year, who have for the most part been military personnel.
During his speech, Al-Tayeb said: “Division, strife, and polarisation are the main tactics extremists are using to divide the Islamic nation.”
He added that despite the existence of several entities working on unifying Muslims worldwide, the Arab-Islamic nation still needs to work on mutual goals in facing security challenges.
Al-Tayeb tackled the nature of the existence for those troops, the threats they pose and potential ways to overcome them. He said those “terrorist” groups claim the caliphate is one of the Sunni assets, and is expiating several Muslim victims by killing them . Al-Tayeb added that Al-Azhar is taking new measures to develop “a rational religious speech”.
Regionally, he said no peace will come around until the Palestinian dispute is settled justly, adding: “We are going to hold a conference in support of Al-Aqsa’s victory, soon.”
Pope Tawadros II, who co-launched the opening ceremony for the conference, said principles of divine religions are common to all creeds. “Our religion urges us to love and accept those who are different from us,” he said.
Pope Tawadros reviewed the long history of Egyptian unity through several decades of critical political turning points, from the 1919 revolution to the present.
Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met with his US Counterpart John Kerry in Cairo in September, to discuss ways “to help define the specific role that Egypt will play in the coalition” to destroy ISIS.
“It is really important that the religious establishments at Al-Azhar and Dar Al-Ifta are both fully supportive and understanding of the need to draw these distinctions with respect to religion,” Kerry said.
Both institutions have spoken out against ISIS in recent weeks, describing the group as “barbaric” and rejecting the group’s self-styled name ‘Islamic State’.