[Translate to arabic:] On the first day of her visit to Cairo, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, met with his Eminence the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Pr Dr Ahmed Al-Tayeb. The Grand Imam received the Director-General as she was about to give a lecture at Al Azhar University about dialogue and tolerance, based on the history of Islam and on the diversity of Islamic heritage. Both underlined the vital importance of knowledge and youth education to foster mutual understanding and defeat extremism.
[Translate to arabic:] “Destroying antiquities is against Islam. For 14 centuries Islam has been in Egypt and has never destroyed monuments or heritage. Al Azhar has been established 1000 years ago, and no Islam scholars ever asked nor legitimized any destruction of cultural heritage”, said the Grand Imam.
The Director-General fully supported this vision, and commended the Institution of Al Azhar, its Mosque and prestigious university, for its message of tolerance, of moderation and knowledge of Islam.
“Al Azhar is not only a very old and prestigious Institution, it also plays a vital role to give education to young people, with half a million students, 10% of which come from abroad. It is a very powerful tool to disseminate the true message of human dignity and human life”, said the Director-General.
“This encounter is extremely important to me, and I wish to express my admiration and respect. I believe UNESCO and Al Azhar have the same ambition, we want to have educated young people, who know about other cultures, who respect their own religion and who respect the religion of the others. Al Azhar has taken many important initiatives in this regard and I am determined to strengthen our cooperation in the future to that effect”.