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.


Anti-Daesh coalition raids kill 43 in east Syria: monitor

Updated 46 min 23 sec ago
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Anti-Daesh coalition raids kill 43 in east Syria: monitor

  • Seventeen children were among 36 Daesh family members killed in Abu Husn village of Deir Ezzor province near the Iraqi border
  • Another seven victims had not yet been identified as either civilians or Daesh fighters

BEIRUT: Air strikes by the US-led coalition Saturday killed 43 people, mostly civilians, in a Daesh holdout in eastern Syria, a Britain-based monitor said.
Seventeen children were among 36 Daesh family members killed in Abu Husn village of Deir Ezzor province near the Iraqi border, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Another seven victims had not yet been identified as either civilians or Daesh fighters, it said.
The US-led coalition has been backing a Kurdish-Arab alliance called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighting to expel the extremists from the pocket around Abu Husn.
"It's the highest death toll in coalition air strikes since the SDF launched its attack against the IS pocket" in September, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.
The coalition has repeatedly said it does its utmost to prevent civilian casualties.
"The avoidance of civilian casualties is our highest priority when conducting strikes against legitimate military targets with precision munitions," spokesman Sean Ryan told AFP this week.
Daesh overran large swathes of Syria and neighbouring Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a "caliphate" in land it controlled.
But the militant group has since lost most of it to various offensives in both countries.
In Syria, the group has seen its presence reduced to parts of the vast Badia desert and the pocket in Deir Ezzor.
The coalition has since 2014 acknowledged direct responsibility for over 1,100 civilian deaths in Syria and Iraq, but rights groups put the number killed much higher.