BEIRUT: Head of the Future bloc Fouad Siniora held talks in Cairo Monday with Egypt’s Muslim and Christian spiritual leaders that focused on Islamic extremism, inter-Muslim relations, notably the growing Sunni-Shiite schism, and ties between Christians and Muslims.
A statement issued by Siniora’s office said the former prime minister met with Sheikh Ahmad al-Tayeb, the grand imam of the Al-Azhar Mosque and agreed to set up a joint Lebanese-Egyptian committee to follow up on confronting the Muslim fundamentalism that is sweeping across parts of the Middle East, especially in Iraq and Syria.
“Discussions centered on three main topics, including the trend of rampant radicalism among Sunni Muslims and means to curb it through religious guidance and teaching in which Al-Azhar plays a central role, especially in reaffirming moderate Islam,” the statement said.
Islamic unity in light of escalating tensions between Sunnis and Shiites was the other issue under scrutiny, “in view of the dangerous schism and simmering inter-Islamic strife.”
“The two sides proposed holding joint conferences and specific meetings to reinforce unity among Muslims,” the statement said.
The talks with the sheikh, the highest Sunni religious authority, also focused on the onslaught perpetrated against Christians in northern Iraq, and the need to strengthen Muslim-Christian cooperation to counter “the minority of extremists jeopardizing Christian-Muslim ties,” the statement said.
“It was decided to set up a joint committee to follow up on the agreements and propose solutions to the three topics,” the statement added.
During his brief visit to Egypt, Siniora also met Coptic Pope Tawadros II to discuss Christian-Muslim relations and ways to buttress them.
The overwhelming majority of Egypt’s estimated 10 million Christians belong to the Coptic Church.