CAIRO: Top Muslim and Christian clerics from the Middle East gathered in Cairo on Tuesday for a two-day conference on promoting coexistence as sectarian conflict continues to ravage the region.
The “Freedom and Citizenship” conference is hosted by Al-Azhar, one of the leading Islamic seat of learning. It comes as Coptic Christians in Egypt’s Sinai flee attacks by Daesh group who is waging an insurgency in the peninsula.
“Exonerating religions from terrorism no longer suffices in the face of these barbaric challenges,” Al-Azhar’s head Sheikh Ahmed Tayeb said in a speech on the opening day, referring to regional conflicts.
Tayeb called for dispelling “the lingering mistrust and tensions between religious leaders that are no longer justified, for if there is no peace between the proponents of religions first, the proponents cannot give it to the people.”
Coptic Christian Pope Tawadros II called for “fighting extremist thought with enlightened thought.”
He said: “Egypt and the region have suffered from extremist thought resulting from a mistaken understanding of religion that has led to terrorism.”
Meanwhile, police arrested 22 people after hundreds went on a rampage in Egypt’s coastal city of Port Said to protest death sentences for 10 residents for their part in a deadly 2012 soccer riot.
The officials say protesters set tires ablaze, torched two police cars and pelted policemen with rocks on Monday night in the Mediterranean city’s low-income residential area of Fatimah Al-Zahraa.