Al-Azhar urges Christians not to flee Mideast radicals

Al-Azhar urges Christians not to flee Mideast radicals
Updated 04 December 2014

Al-Azhar urges Christians not to flee Mideast radicals

Al-Azhar urges Christians not to flee Mideast radicals

CAIRO: Al-Azhar, Islam’s most prestigious center of learning, on Thursday urged Christians in the Arab world to stand firm in the face of jihadi violence and not flee into exile.
The call, made at a Cairo conference organized by Al-Azhar, came just days after Pope Francis pressed the world’s Muslim leaders to condemn terrorism carried out in the name of Islam by groups such as the Islamic State (IS) and Al-Qaeda, and called for an end to the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.
“We condemn the forced exile of Christians and other religious or ethnic groups,” the conference said in a final statement. “We urge Christians to stay rooted in their homelands and to weather this wave of terrorism we all are suffering.”
Accusing extremist militants of distorting the meaning of jihad, the statement said it is really one of “self-defense or repelling aggression and should not be left to a single individual or group to declare.” It said: “All armed groups and sectarian militias who use violence and terrorism... have no relationship with true Islam.”
The Cairo conference offered no firm plan to curb jihadis, but it called for another international forum to be convened to “spread justice and respect for different beliefs.”
Al-Azhar head Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb directly condemned IS for its “barbaric crimes” and urged the US-led coalition fighting it to crack down on countries which support terrorism financially and militarily.