Egypt Azhar university head replaced after ‘apostacy’ remarks

This file photo taken on April 28, 2017 shows Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, delivering a speech during the visit of Pope Francis to the prestigious Sunni institution in Cairo. Sheikh Al-Tayeb replaced Ahmed Hosni Taha, the head of Egypt's Al-Azhar university, after labelling a controversial Muslim reformer an apostate. (AFP / Andreas Solaro)
Updated 06 May 2017
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Egypt Azhar university head replaced after ‘apostacy’ remarks

CAIRO: The head of Egypt’s Al-Azhar university, one of the world’s leading Islamic seats of learning, has been replaced after labelling a controversial Muslim reformer an apostate, the institution said.
The development came as Al-Azhar is pressured by critics who say the venerable Sunni Muslim authority has not done enough to counter Islamist extremism.
Ahmed Hosni Taha, the acting university president, had been forced to apologize on Thursday after saying reformer Islam Al-Behairy was an “apostate” for attacking some of the founding scholars of Islamic law.
His apology was followed by a statement on Friday from Al-Azhar saying that Grand Imam Ahmed Al-Tayeb, who heads the institution that runs the university, had replaced Taha.
Taha had made the remarks about Behairy during a television interview.
“My response...was incorrect and it contradicts the way of Al-Azhar,” Taha said in an apology posted on the university’s website.
Behairy was a talk show host who had infuriated Al-Azhar’s traditional clergy with attacks on canonical religious books and some of Sunni Islam’s most important scholars.
He was sentenced to a year in prison for “insulting religion” and released in late 2016 in a presidential pardon.


Israeli minister boasts his country has been ‘killing Iranians’

Updated 13 min 1 sec ago
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Israeli minister boasts his country has been ‘killing Iranians’

  • Hanegbi accused Iran, Israel’s main enemy, of seeking to create “chaos” and “harm freedom of navigation”

JERUSALEM: An Israeli minister boasted Sunday that his country was the only one that “has been killing Iranians,” after tensions between Britain and Iran rose in the Gulf.
Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi’s comments to public radio were a reference to Israeli strikes in neighboring Syria against Iranian and Hezbollah military targets.
But they came after Iran seized a British-flagged tanker on Friday, adding to tensions between Washington and Tehran linked to a 2015 nuclear deal.
Hanegbi accused Iran, Israel’s main enemy, of seeking to create “chaos” and “harm freedom of navigation.”
Asked if he feared that Israel would not receive the backing of the United States in the case of a conflict with Iran, Hanegbi suggested that Tehran would avoid such a scenario.
“Israel is the only country in the world that has been killing Iranians for two years,” he said.
“We strike the Iranians hundreds of times in Syria. Sometimes we acknowledge it and sometimes foreign reports reveal it.”
He added that the Iranians “understand that Israel means business.”
Israel has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria against what it says are Iranian and Hezbollah military targets.
It has vowed to keep Iran from entrenching itself militarily there.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke in a similar vein last week with cadets at the national security college.
“At the moment, the only army in the world to fight Iran is the Israeli army,” he said.
Earlier this month, Netanyahu warned that Israeli fighter jets “can reach anywhere in the Middle East, including Iran.”
Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged tanker in the Strait of Hormuz for breaking “international maritime rules” came some two weeks after Britain seized an Iranian tanker at the mouth of the Mediterranean on allegations of breaching UN sanctions against Syria.