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Grand Sheikh Of Al-Azhar: Islamic State 'Barbaric, Distorts Islam'

Moderate Sunni cleric Ahmed al-Tayeb (file photo)

Moderate Sunni cleric Ahmed al-Tayeb (file photo)

The Grand Imam of Egypt's Al-Azhar Mosque, Ahmed al-Tayeb, has accused Islamic State (IS) of "barbarity" and said the Sunni extremist group's ideology is incompatible with the teachings of Islamic law.

Tayeb, who is also the former president of the prestigious Al-Azhar University, made his remarks on December 3 at the opening of a two-day international conference, "Al-Azhar Against Terrorism And Extremism." The conference is attended by Muslim scholars from 120 countries, as well as Islamic organizations and the heads of Eastern Churches, according to "Egypt Independent."

"[These] militants operate under the guise of religion and gave themselves the name "Islamic State" in an attempt to export a false impression about Islam," Tayeb said.

The Grand Sheikh also said that "what we are experiencing today is a plot by the enemies of the Middle East in favor of Israel so it can remain the richest country in the region."

Tayeb said that the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq should "confront the countries that support terrorism financially and militarily," adding that Muslims should "not ignore our own responsibility for the emergence of extremism."

Previously, Tayeb has said that the emergence of Islamic State was a "natural result of the policy of marginalization in Iraq."

Other figures from Al-Azhar have previously also spoken out against Islamic State. However, some have asserted that the extremist Sunni group is a Western creation. Azhar graduate Sheikh Alawi Amin told Lebanon's "As-Safir" newspaper in July that "[Islamic State] is a terrorist group which was born out of colonialism and U.S. and Western intelligence for the purpose of slitting the throats of Muslims and dividing the Islamic nation."

-- Joanna Paraszczuk

About This Blog

"Under The Black Flag" provides news, opinion, and analysis about the impact of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. It focuses not only on the fight against terrorist groups in the Middle East, but also on the implications for the region and the world. The blog's primary author, James Miller, closely covered the first three years of the Arab Spring, with a focus on Syria, and is now the managing editor of The Interpreter, where he covers Russia's foreign and domestic policy and the Kremlin's wars in Syria and Ukraine. Follow him on Twitter: @Millermena


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