The National - News
Grand Imam of Al Azhar and pope discuss mutual respect
Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Dr Ahmed Al Tayyeb, discussed coexistence and mutual respect on Monday.
Dr Al Tayyeb congratulated the pope and the world’s Christian community before the coming Christmas holiday.
The Sunni cleric also congratulated the pontiff on his 82nd birthday.
The pope and Egyptian imam have strong ties.
Dr Al Tayyeb visited Italy in October for an interfaith forum in Bologna and a private audience with the pontiff.
The two discussed the rejection of violence and terrorism, and the well-being of Christians in the Middle East and their protection.
On Monday, Francis thanked Dr Al Tayyeb for the call, saying he was looking forward to meeting him in Abu Dhabi in February, when the Christian leader will celebrate a historic Mass for the one million Roman Catholics in the UAE.
Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, said the pope was a symbol of peace and tolerance.
“We look forward to a historic visit, through which we will seek dialogue on the peaceful coexistence among peoples,” Sheikh Mohamed said.
Dr Al Tayyeb will visit the UAE in February to take part in the country’s Global Conference for Human Fraternity.
The invitation from Sheikh Mohamed to Dr Al Tayyeb was delivered by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International
Co-operation, at Al Azhar headquarters in Cairo.
While the pope is the head of the Roman Catholic church, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar is a prestigious role in Sunni Islam, considered by some to be the highest authority in Sunni Islamic learning.
Dr Al Tayyeb and Pope Francis have close relations and have met several times, most importantly when the pontiff visited Egypt in April last year.