Prof. Ahmed El-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and the President of the Muslim Council of Elders (MCE), met, Tuesday 16 Oct., His Excellence the President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella in the Quirinal Palace, Rome, as part of his current visit to Italy.
During the meeting, the Grand Imam expressed his happiness to visit Italy, the ancient country that has deep historical relations with the Arab Republic of Egypt and its People at various levels; politically, culturally, and economically, which is clearly reflected in the major developments that have been recently witnessed in the relations between the two countries. The Grand Imam also noted that Italy, with its ancient history and civilization, has built a bridge of communication between Southern Europe and Egypt since ancient times.
El-Tayeb stressed the necessity for the religious institutions and their leaders to work together in their way towards promoting the world peace and alleviating the suffering of the poor and vulnerable. He also confirmed that Al-Azhahr and the Vatican share common visions on the humanitarian issues, and that the relations between the two sides moved beyond this level to joint action. In addition, the Grand Imam expressed his pride in his relationship with Pope Francis, the Pope of Vatican.
The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar pointed out that religion is indispensable to people’s lives as it allows them to lead a quiet and tranquil life. He also noted that the scholars and clergymen are in need of immense support from presidents and politicians, with all of their influence and power, in order to achieve the desired peace and to face the immoral challenges of the present time.
For his part, His Excellence the President of the Italian Republic Sergio Mattarella expressed his pride in receiving the Grand Imam who stands as a great symbol for peace and dialogue, noting that the brotherly ties between the Grand imam of Al-Azhar and Pope Francis represent a unique model for the sought-for relationship between religious leaders, and that the picture that gathered them together in Cairo had removed many barriers amidst what the world is currently witnessing of difficult situations. He also confirmed that the cooperation between Al-Azhar and the Vatican will significantly contribute to the efforts of promoting the values of coexistence and dialogue and confronting the attempts to use religions as a pretext for violence.
The President applauded the significant role played by Al-Azhar in confronting the extremist and violent thought and enhancing the values of coexistence and dialogue given the influence and prestige it assumes among Muslims and the moderateness and openness of its methodology. At the end of the meeting, Mattarella commended the Italian-Egyptian relations, noting that the Mediterranean Sea doesn’t separate the two sides; rather it unites them and helps in overcoming the barriers that might hamper their firm friendship. He also voiced his desire to visit Cairo and the Grand Imam at Al-Azhar Headquarters.
The meeting was attended by a high profile delegation from Al-Azhar, including Prof. Mohammad al-Maharsawi, President of Al-Azhar University; Judge. Muhammad Abd Al-Salam, Legal Advisor to the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar; and Ambassador Abd Al-Rahman Musa, the Grand Imam’s Advisor for the International Students Affairs.