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Imam: Pope Must Say ‘Islam is Peaceful’ to Renew Ties With Islam

The Muslim leader of al-Azhar offered to renew ties with the Vatican, but strongly suggested Pope Francis start off by proclaiming that Islam is a peaceful religion. A Coptic organization has suggested that Muslim leaders are the only ones who can make Islam a peaceful religion, and encouraged the Imam to take on that task.
Ahmed al-Tayeb is the Imam of al-Azhar and president of al-Azhar University. His message to Pope Francis: before we can resume relations, you should tell the world Islam is a peaceful religion.

Ahmed al-Tayeb is the Imam of al-Azhar and president of al-Azhar University. His message to Pope Francis: before we can resume relations, you should tell the world Islam is a peaceful religion.
Photo Credit: Lori Lowenthal Marcus

The leader of Islam’s most important university and also the Egyptian mosque by the same name, Al-Azhar, has offered to renew relations with the Vatican.  The olive branch came with a note: first Pope Francis should publicly declare that “Islam is a peaceful religion.”

The Muslim world severed ties with the Catholic Church in 2006. Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned this spring, discussed an incident in which Islam’s prophet, Mohammed, was described as a warmonger who spread evil teachings.  The Muslim world did not like that. Relations resumed a few years later, but were broken off again in 2011, when Pope Benedict publicly denounced the bombing of a church in Alexandria, Egypt.  More than 20 people were killed in that bombing, and nearly 100 additional church goers were wounded.

Ahmed al-Tayeb is the grand Imam of al-Azhar and also the president of al-Azhar University.  Through his diplomatic envoy, Mahmour Abdel Gawad, al-Tayeb made an overture to Pope Francis.  He explained that Islam does not have a problem with the papacy, the problem was with the prior pope.  Gawad made it clear, however, that the first step to re-establishing the relationship had to be taken by the Vatican. He said,

Francis is a new pope. We are expecting a step forward from him. If in one of his addresses he were to declare that Islam is a peaceful religion, that Muslims are not looking for war or violence, that would be progress in itself.

But given that the break with the Catholic Church was over Islam’s violent persecution of Copts in Egypt, the Copts understandably suggest that it is wholly within al-Tayeb and his followers’ ability to mend the breach. The Copts are a persecuted minority in Egypt, thousands of whom are fleeing their Egyptian homeland because of that persecution.

The Voice of the Copts is an American and Italian-based organization of Copts which opposes the spread of global Islam. The Copts are the largest Christian sect in Egypt, and they constitute approximately 15 percent of the Egyptian population, and they date back to the era immediately following the death of Jesus.

The Copts do not see themselves as Arab, but instead as non-Arab descendents of the ancient civilization of Egypt, who are Christian.

Within days of al-Tayeb’s offer to restart relations with the Catholic Church by imposing a precondition on Rome, an organization called Voice of the Copts offered an alternative: al-Tayeb should instead

issue a formal, public statement directed to his followers in the Arabic language conveying an unequivocal message that Muslims attacking Christians in Egypt do not conform to a tenet of Islam and will no longer be tolerated. A clear denunciation of Muslim sectarian violence against Christians in Egypt by Sunni religious leaders would be welcomed as Al-Azhar seeks the Pope’s endorsement of Muslim non-violence.

Dr. Ashraf Ramelah, founder and president of Voice of the Copts, an organization made up of many thousands, said that it is up to Islam’s leaders to ensure that the religion’s followers are peaceful, because at the moment Islam is “a religion that many around the world see as warmongering and violent.”

Al-Tayeb had suggested that if Pope Francis intended to visit Egypt to meet with Pope Tawadros II, the pontiff should also come visit with him at al-Azhar.

Pope Tawadros traveled to Rome and met with Pope Francis last month.  It was the first meeting between leaders of the two churches in 40 years.

While the head of al-Azhar said he would look forward to meeting with the head of Church of Rome, he said that he was not interested in a sit-down with all three heads of the world’s main monotheistic religions, an idea that had been floated by the Vatican.  He said Al-Azhar “will not take part in any meeting with Israelis.”

Sadly enough, the current Coptic Orthodox Pope, like the last, is at one with al-Tayeb on this point.  He continues the position his predecessor had of opposing normalization with Israel. He said in November, 2012, shortly after his election, that “We won’t encourage Copts to visit Jerusalem, as we can’t accept the idea of Copts selling out the Arab cause.”

When The Jewish Press asked Dr. Rameleh about this point, he responded in an email, saying, “I can’t say enough about how disappointed we are that Pope Tawadros II followed in the footsteps of Pope Shenouda II before him on the issue of Israel.  There is no excuse for this at all. Voice of the Copts is clear on standing against this ‘Arab cause’ position and the boycott of travel to Israel.

About the Author: Lori Lowenthal Marcus is the US correspondent for The Jewish Press. She is a recovered lawyer who previously practiced First Amendment law and taught in Philadelphia-area graduate and law schools.


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26 Responses to “Imam: Pope Must Say ‘Islam is Peaceful’ to Renew Ties With Islam”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Axis History Forum • Muslim dignitaries visit Auschwitz.
    forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php? f=6&t=175173

    There is nothing wrong with Muslim clerics visiting Auschwitz and praying for the persons who died there. But it is a distortion of reality to claim…

    To World Jewry:

    I hope you will consider my plea as one of the few Rabbis in Americas who speaks out for Israel, fights anti-Semitism throughout the world and one who speaks out vehemently against extremist Muslims. In addition I fight on behalf of Holocaust survivors and have been vocal regarding the Holocaust Claims Conference missing funds. I was also president of Rabbis for Romney. You are welcome to look me up on the internet.

    We are living in pre Holocaust times. European Jewry is facing major anti-Semitism and parts of Europe are Judenrein. Israel is facing a possible Holocaust from Iran and surrounding enemies. I was just banned from the Huffington Post for expressing my displeasure with Muslims praying at Auschwitz over my family ashes. Extremist Muslims want Israel and all Jews annihilated. My plea to all Jews: Speak out. Tell your Rabbis not to remain silent. We are running out of time.

    Rabbi Dr. Bernhard Rosenberg

  2. Lloyd Bergner says:

    If the Pope said that Islam is a religion of peace he would be lying.

  3. Bonnie Moore says:

    What crack-heads would believe it? When was the last time a Mormon blew himself up at a bus stop?

  4. Stuart Wragg says:

    You seriously have to be a dimwit to believe this guy. Peaceful means peaceful you stupid nut. You cannot redifine peaceful to suit your agenda. Islam is not peaceful not because I say so but because of what Islam does.

  5. Jacqueline Hanna Youssef says:

    Al-Azhar “will not take part in any meeting with Israelis.”for sure this is not showing the world that Islam is a religion of peace.& Even if the Pope would say it, citizens of the world are not BLIND, & more than ever from terrorism by extremist & radicals fighting & killing for an Ummah Islamia & calling it Jihad that is not a religion of peace.The hate verses in Koran against others is not peaceful religion. TheJihad for Ummah Islamia that is not act of peace.No one will listen if crimes going on on the name of Allah. Start to teach peace in Mosque when you preach than let's the world see.

  6. Arie's Pragmatic Politics says:

    islam is definitively pieceful! A piece here. A piece there!

    (Is this where yanover bans me for critiquing the jihadists and mass murderers?)

  7. Arie's Pragmatic Politics says:

    And that would be a first?

  8. Ed Feraco says:

    islam is evil and demonic! http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/

  9. I don’t think this Pope wants to lie….

  10. Terry Lundy says:

    islam has never ever ever been a religon of peace, i studied enough of islam to know that even in their glory days it was the infidels who gave the muslim world the tech to move ahead, but that only lasts so long then everything falls into ruin..islam will always be a war machine consuming til there is no one left.

  11. A religion of PEACE….

  12. Anonymous says:

    I need the true arabic text said by Shaikh Al Azhar that I may understand wether the translated news is correct/suits the true arabic text.

  13. Islam is NOT "Peaceful". See: "What Islam is NOT". Islam is Anathema to Judeo-Christian beliefs and is NOT a "Religion" but a political system of Tyranny to enslave the world under Sharia Law that was promulgated by a degenerate named Mohammad. Allah is a false god. Allah is NOT G-d.

  14. Yes. He would be stating a falsehood.

  15. Urge the Pope NOT to make such a statement. The Email address for "L'Osevatore Romana is ornet@ossrom.va.

  16. Liad Bar-el says:

    With all joking aside, what Oktar and his Islamic Sex Cult is doing to the world is a disgrace to HaShem and to the ethics He gave mankind to live with in peace. Anyone who supports him shares in that disgrace. Islam has historically used peace as rouge to conquer with war and has not changed its subversive tactics of war as taught by Muhammad even up until today. Islam peace with the Pope will not change their subversive war tactic.

  17. Yori Yanover says:

    Terry Lundy · You are correct. However, do you know it to be anything but monotheistic? At least compared with the lavish-iconism of the Church?

  18. Seth Peters says:

    Didn't Pope John Paul 11 kiss the Quran some years back? I remember watching it on TV; back then I did not know much about Islam and Muslims. However, when I saw the Pope kiss the Quran I thought they were ok and it was the same God. Boy oh boy was I wrong. I've checked it out for myself now; it is evil, corrupt and hungry for world wide power. No exceptions – alliances will be made in convenice then broken by Islam; also when convenient, and power has been established.
    Why are our leaders letting this happen?
    This is another form of forcing the Pope to kiss the Unholy Quran!
    It is time the world started to say no to Islam. We should be arresting these Muslim leaders for some of the things they do and say.
    A spoilt child does not behave better if you cave into them; no, you've got to CORRECT them if you truly care for them.
    Lets get busy doing just that.

  19. To say it better, Mohammad is a false prophet the word Allah is Arabic for G-d, however radical Muslims sees Mohammad as God himself.

  20. Anonymous says:

    “Islam is a peaceful religion.”? you have got to be joking, 99% of the War's around the world involve Muslims, so how can Islam be a "peaceful religion" they are war mongers,..speak to any Muslim you like, and he/she will tell you, there is and will be only one world religion, and that's Islam?

  21. Annie Barron says:

    So, if I don't say what you say I have to say, you're going to kill me? What kind of idiotic garbage is that – well, it never ceases to amaze me what the islamist terrorist will do next. By the way, even if the pope said that, it would NOT make it true. A lie is a lie, no matter who says it. The news lately concerning the President of the U.S. and the 1967 borders, the pope not explaining that judging people and judging their actions are two totally different things; and now, of course, all is well with the terrorists as long as everybody says they are not killers. This is written in their books of religion; it's war. No matter what you do, it's war. The current peace talks by Kerry do not make sense – Gaza is receiving support from Iran and Iran demands their allegience, so there is no way to achieve peace – well, you can say it's peace, but it's a lie – is that the idea here? Just lie and all is well in the Islamic world? What a confusing life it must be to live lies and never live the truth. The Spirit of G-d is truth – so how can you have the Spirit of G-d with you if you don't live the truth? Well, there is your answer. As a Christian, Jesus said he did not come to bring peace as the world understands it; and it would cause divisions; so, here we are, Jews and Christians on one side and everyone else on the other. At least that is the truth. As for politicians in the U.S. – it does not make sense to put out a travel warning and tell me that Islam is peaceful; it does not make sense to lie to the citizens of the U.S. and tell us all is well with Islam when in fact, we are seeing no proof of such things. I don't care what political side you are on – if you are using the world for alterior motives to make yourself wealthy or to move you into power, no matter what the consequences to others – that is a lie. So, the world is full of liars. Now, can we PLEASE stick together and continue to find the truth. Let the liars go where they will go – hopefully, they won't take any of us with them. Making a peace deal with people who have no intentions of peace is a lie; a bargaining chip that will never lead to peace but only buy time to pick and choose which side people are going to be on. A method practiced, but many times it does more harm than good; especially when treaties are signed. The news of the past 10 years has truly been astronomically bad concerning the truth of just what is going on – finally – we must hold on to the truth. And, the peace that passes all understanding is not the peace of this world, but the Peace of G-d. G-d bless Israel. And, I would not only leave Egypt – I would RUN out of Egypt if I got the chance – if I lived there. I think history taught that if you were not welcomed – you were to shake the dust from your feet and leave that place. But, you also are suppose to protect your families. If the same happened where I live, I would want to stay also; but it is a different situation. So far, Islamic people do NOT own where I live. So far….some day, we all may have to take the same stand and fight…until then, peace be with you Israel, if not with the world, within yourselves, which is the Spirit of Truth.

  22. Annie Barron says:

    So, if I don't say what you say I have to say, you're going to kill me? What kind of idiotic garbage is that – well, it never ceases to amaze me what the islamist terrorist will do next. By the way, even if the pope said that, it would NOT make it true. A lie is a lie, no matter who says it. The news lately concerning the President of the U.S. and the 1967 borders, the pope not explaining that judging people and judging their actions are two totally different things; and now, of course, all is well with the terrorists as long as everybody says they are not killers. This is written in their books of religion; it's war. No matter what you do, it's war. The current peace talks by Kerry do not make sense – Gaza is receiving support from Iran and Iran demands their allegience, so there is no way to achieve peace – well, you can say it's peace, but it's a lie – is that the idea here? Just lie and all is well in the Islamic world? What a confusing life it must be to live lies and never live the truth. The Spirit of G-d is truth – so how can you have the Spirit of G-d with you if you don't live the truth? Well, there is your answer. As a Christian, Jesus said he did not come to bring peace as the world understands it; and it would cause divisions; so, here we are, Jews and Christians on one side and everyone else on the other. At least that is the truth. As for politicians in the U.S. – it does not make sense to put out a travel warning and tell me that Islam is peaceful; it does not make sense to lie to the citizens of the U.S. and tell us all is well with Islam when in fact, we are seeing no proof of such things. I don't care what political side you are on – if you are using the world for alterior motives to make yourself wealthy or to move you into power, no matter what the consequences to others – that is a lie. So, the world is full of liars. Now, can we PLEASE stick together and continue to find the truth. Let the liars go where they will go – hopefully, they won't take any of us with them. Making a peace deal with people who have no intentions of peace is a lie; a bargaining chip that will never lead to peace but only buy time to pick and choose which side people are going to be on. A method practiced, but many times it does more harm than good; especially when treaties are signed. The news of the past 10 years has truly been astronomically bad concerning the truth of just what is going on – finally – we must hold on to the truth. And, the peace that passes all understanding is not the peace of this world, but the Peace of G-d. G-d bless Israel. And, I would not only leave Egypt – I would RUN out of Egypt if I got the chance – if I lived there. I think history taught that if you were not welcomed – you were to shake the dust from your feet and leave that place. But, you also are suppose to protect your families. If the same happened where I live, I would want to stay also; but it is a different situation. So far, Islamic people do NOT own where I live. So far….some day, we all may have to take the same stand and fight…until then, peace be with you Israel, if not with the world, within yourselves, which is the Spirit of Truth.

  23. Annie Barron says:

    I don't care what the pope or anyone else says, if it is a lie, it's a lie. I gave up on many world leaders who continue to lie to make peace with a religious community of Islamic people who continue plans of murder and violence against anyone who is not Islamic…just to bring about some imam – which even they can not agree upon. I have read the Holy Books – the truthful ones – and I know that this was all written about. Eziekel, Daniel, Jeremiah, and even Elijah who warned that if we do not turn our hearts towards our fathers he would come back and strike the land with a curse. I am NOT going to contact anyone that is planning to lie to the world; it would just give them ability to interfere with my life and I refuse to do that. If the pope or anyone else plans evil, it would not change if I or the entire world contacted them.

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