Al-Azhar’s grand imam to attend Bahrain forum alongside Pope Francis

Al-Azhar’s grand imam to attend Bahrain forum alongside Pope Francis
Sheikh Ahmed, the seniormost cleric at Al-Azhar and chairman of the Muslim Council of Elders, will travel to Bahrain on Nov. 3 following an invitation from Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa. (AFP/File)
Short Url
Updated 30 September 2022

Al-Azhar’s grand imam to attend Bahrain forum alongside Pope Francis

Al-Azhar’s grand imam to attend Bahrain forum alongside Pope Francis

CAIRO: Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayyeb, grand imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, will participate from Nov. 3-4 alongside Pope Francis in the Bahrain Forum for Dialogue: East and West for Human Coexistence.

Sheikh Ahmed, the seniormost cleric at Al-Azhar and chairman of the Muslim Council of Elders, will travel to Bahrain on Nov. 3 following an invitation from Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa.

Over 200 religious figures from around the world representing all religions and sects will attend the forum.

Sheikh Ahmed and the pope last met in Kazakhstan earlier this month where they attended the 7th Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions.

In April 2016, Sheikh Ahmed received King Hamad at Al-Azhar, where the king thanked Egypt’s highest seat of learning for supporting Bahrain’s unity and stability.

During his meeting with King Hamad, Sheikh Ahmed said that Bahrain was and will remain a melting pot of cultures and ideas.

At the invitation of King Hamad, Pope Francis will travel to Bahrain in November, which is home to the largest Catholic church on the Arabian Peninsula.

According to Vatican News, Pope Francis, 85, will be the first pope to visit the predominantly Muslim nation in the Arabian Gulf.


Mikati faces row over Lebanese Cabinet meeting on Monday

Mikati faces row over Lebanese Cabinet meeting on Monday
Updated 12 sec ago

Mikati faces row over Lebanese Cabinet meeting on Monday

Mikati faces row over Lebanese Cabinet meeting on Monday
  • Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi criticizes inability of parliament to elect president after 8 sessions

BEIRUT: Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati has called for a Cabinet meeting on Monday to deal with urgent matters in the country.

He announced the move during a speech at the inauguration of the International Arab Book Fair in Beirut.

The move has outraged Christian blocs in the Lebanese ruling class which consider it an unconstitutional step and an attempt to bypass the priority of electing a new president.

Some eight electoral sessions have failed to procure a new president and the leadership vacuum has entered a second month.

Mikati confirmed that he had called the Cabinet to convene to try and tackle problems which, he said, were deemed important by ministers.

An agenda comprising 65 items has been issued, although Mikati pledged in a parliamentary session held about a month ago not to call a Cabinet session amid the presidential vacuum, unless everyone agreed to the move.

The decision raised concerns among members of the Free Patriotic Movement. The party denounced the invitation, fearing that the resigned government will carry out prerogatives reserved for the president.

In an attempt to reassure those who are skeptical, Mikati said more than 40 items could be excluded from the agenda.

He said: “We will only approve the matters that are deemed important and urgent by ministers.

“It disappoints me when some people consider the meeting a sectarian move or an attempt that targets a specific group.

“Do we discriminate when we provide assistance? What is being said is unacceptable.”

Mikati added: “There’s a file related to cancer and dialysis patients that should be approved.

“What our Cabinet does is perform governmental duties to serve the citizens. Whoever has an alternative can propose it.”

Mikati said he hoped no one would boycott the meeting as ministers had a sense of patriotism. He added he was hopeful of a broad participation on Monday.

He also called on those responsible to accelerate the process of electing a president.

He said: “What is required first and foremost is the political will of the various political forces and blocs to complete the convening of constitutional institutions by electing a new president as soon as possible.”

He added that the adoption of reform laws must take place before the final agreement with the International Monetary Fund, in order to secure the opportunity for the promised economic recovery.

The urgent item that prompted Mikati to call the Cabinet session is related to the settlement of amounts due to hospitals.

It includes the approval of a request to cover the purchase of medicines for incurable and cancerous diseases using $35 million from the Central Bank over three months.

Ministers from the FPM announced that they will boycott Monday’s session.

However, it has been reported that Mikati’s move received the support of Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, despite the strong alliance between Hezbollah and the FPM.

The Syndicate of Hospitals in Lebanon said that using people’s health for political sparring was unacceptable.

It said patients were not responsible for the presidential vacuum, nor for the governmental status and the prerogatives of the caretaker Cabinet.

It has been reported that Foreign Affairs Minister Abdallah Bou Habib, Tourism Minister Walid Nassar, Justice Minister Henri Khoury, Social Affairs Minister Hector Hajjar, Energy Minister Walid Fayad and Defense Minister Maurice Slim will not attend Monday’s meeting.

However, despite the boycott, the quorum will still be met, as two-thirds of the members and Christian ministers from other blocs will attend it.

Meanwhile, Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi has criticized the inability of parliament to elect a president after eight electoral sessions.

He described the unsuccessful parliamentary sessions as “comical.”

Addressing the deputies of Hezbollah and the FPM, who keep casting blank votes, he added: “Why don’t you announce your candidate’s name?

“Why would you secure the quorum in the first round, then leave in the second round? Isn’t this disrespectful to the Lebanese people and the presidency?

“Why do you act like this when it comes to the Maronite Christian president, while you elect the parliamentary speaker in one session and the prime minister is designated immediately following parliamentary consultations?

“It is as if you are saying that you can do without a president. If you were keen on respecting the national pact, how is the Christian element represented when you keep missing the chance to elect a president?”

 


Push to nominate Egyptian sheikh for Nobel Peace Prize

Sheikh Ahmed Karima. (Wikipedia)
Sheikh Ahmed Karima. (Wikipedia)
Updated 21 min 37 sec ago

Push to nominate Egyptian sheikh for Nobel Peace Prize

Sheikh Ahmed Karima. (Wikipedia)
  • Karima said he is one of the pioneers in supporting the rapprochement between religious sects, and highlighted his efforts in confronting terrorism since 1996, saying he had published books citicial of the Muslim Brotherhood and Daesh

CAIRO: Sheikh Ahmed Karima, a professor of comparative jurisprudence and Islamic law at Al-Azhar University, has confirmed that there are efforts and moves by some personalities outside Egypt to nominate him for the Nobel Peace Prize.

A number of those close to him are making efforts to support his nomination .

The professor told Arab News that the moves “come as a result of my efforts to bring together the Sunni, Shiite and Ibadi Islamic sects, as well as the societal initiatives that I have participated in launching over the past years.”

Karima said he is one of the pioneers in supporting the rapprochement between religious sects, and highlighted his efforts in confronting terrorism since 1996, saying he had published books citicial of the Muslim Brotherhood and Daesh.

“I also have a charitable foundation in the Haram area, and I call for stopping behavioral violence and consolidating and supporting world peace. These are activities that I have been working on for a very long time,” Karima added.

He told Arab News that the proposal that he adopted would also be based on the establishment of the Egyptian Center for World Peace, a specialized non-profit research center concerned with correcting misconceptions attributed to religious issues for the public benefit.

The center challenges false inferences, false citations, and remedies for the principles and agendas of intellectual and behavioral violence, Karima told Arab News.

He suggested that the center be affiliated with the presidency of Egypt, the presidency of the Egyptian Cabinet, and the Foundation for Harmony among people.

Karima said he was working “to spread the culture of environmental protection, in international conferences and scientific publications, including legal measures to protect the environment, in addition to sermons and seminars in mosques and cultural palaces and youth centers.”

He concluded his remarks by saying: “I wish I would win the Nobel Peace Prize, and if I win it, I will dedicate it to Al-Azhar Al-Sharif.

“I was also surprised by negative propaganda campaigns by European institutions and personalities against my candidacy for the Nobel Peace Prize.”

 


Delay in enacting law against underage marriage sparks concern in Egypt

Delay in enacting law against underage marriage sparks concern in Egypt
Updated 29 min 51 sec ago

Delay in enacting law against underage marriage sparks concern in Egypt

Delay in enacting law against underage marriage sparks concern in Egypt
  • Parliament’s legislative and constitutional affairs committee decided to postpone the final approval of the draft law until it received a response from Al-Azhar Al-Sharif

CAIRO: A delay to a new draft law, currently pending before the Parliament of Egypt, that criminalizes marriage under the age of 18 and increases the punishment for violators, has sparked controversy in the North African country.

The hold up is due to Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, the Islamic scientific body, which has yet to determine the extent of the proposal’s agreement with Shariah law.

Mohamed Sultan, a member of the parliament’s human rights committee, told Arab News: “The House of Representatives submitted a new draft law that increases the punishment for violators of the crime of underage marriage, whether it be parents, authorized persons or lawyers. The Cabinet approved the draft law in April.

“We aim to eliminate this negative phenomenon — as underage marriage is a crime against children — in addition to its negative impact on society. At this age, they are not capable (of taking) responsibility for forming a family and raising children, and this is a flagrant assault on the childhood stage.

“The draft law stipulates that it is not permissible to marry a person who has not reached the age of 18. Whoever marries or participates in the marriage of a male or female under the age of 18 will face a fine of between 20,000 Egyptian pounds ($814) to 50,000 pounds, and a prison sentence no shorter than six months.”

He added: “Anyone who incites the marriage of minors is also punished with the same penalty, and the child is not considered criminal or responsible for this crime.”

Parliament’s legislative and constitutional affairs committee decided to postpone the final approval of the draft law until it received a response from Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, which is the largest religious institution in Egypt.

Ahmed Al-Sawy, editor-in-chief of Sawt Al-Azhar newspaper, told Arab News: “Al-Azhar and its Grand Imam Sheikh Al-Tayyib resolved the issue of child marriage years ago by defining a legal age for marriage, and the scholars supported all efforts to criminalize child marriage.”

Al-Sawy cited statements by Al-Tayyib in which he said: “When talking about this issue, we must differentiate between minors in two senses — the first is the girl has not yet reached the age of puberty, and the second is the girl has just reached puberty but is yet to be psychologically and mentally ready for marriage.”

He added: “I do not think that marriage with minors who are yet to reach puberty was something that existed, occurred, or was a phenomenon that attracted attention. Rather, what used to happen was the girl’s marriage right after reaching puberty.”

Al-Tayyib previously stated: “The issue of determining the age of marriage for girls is subject to the circumstances of the era and changes … and the fact that the law now sets the age of marriage at 18 years is welcome, and there is no objection to this.”

Islam Amer, an Islamic scholar and marriage expert, told Arab News: “I demanded more than once to criminalize the customary marriage for those under 18, and I am now calling on parliament to issue a law that criminalizes marriage under the legal age because early marriage is a violation of children’s rights.”
 


12 Houthis killed in fierce fighting south of Marib

12 Houthis killed in fierce fighting south of Marib
Updated 33 min 2 sec ago

12 Houthis killed in fierce fighting south of Marib

12 Houthis killed in fierce fighting south of Marib
  • Militia kills 2 worshipers with explosive drone in Hodeidah mosque

AL-MUKALLA: At least a dozen Houthis have been killed in fierce fighting with Yemeni government troops during the past two days outside Marib, as the militia began a fresh round of deadly strikes to take control of the crucial city, local media reports and military officials said on Saturday.

Lt. Col. Rashad Al-Mekhlafi, a military official in the Yemen Armed Forces Guidance Department, told Arab News that the Houthis staged attacks on government soldiers with heavy machine guns, tanks and artillery along high terrain overlooking Marib in order to prepare the way for ground forces to push into new territories in Al-Akad, Al-Ramelah and other sites south of the city.

The Houthi attacks sparked heavy fighting with government troops on Thursday and Friday, resulting in the deaths of at least a dozen Houthi fighters and the wounding of dozens more.

“They shelled our forces heavily before launching waves of fighters against us,” Al-Mekhlafi said.

National army and resistance fighters were able to drive the militia back, Al-Mekhlafi said, adding that many Houthi military pickup trucks were spotted transporting casualties to a hospital in Marib’s Juba as well as other hospitals in Sanaa and Thamar.

Yemeni military officials believe that the recent Houthi assaults on Marib aimed to increase the pressure on the Yemeni government to give in to the militia’s demands, such as salary payments.

Since Oct. 2, when an UN-brokered ceasefire collapsed, the Houthis have ramped up drone, missile and ground operations against government troops at several important locations around the country, including outside Marib.

Despite significantly reducing hostilities, the ceasefire that went into effect on April 2 failed to end the Houthi siege of Taiz or the cessation of the militia’s deadly attacks on civilian sections of the city.

Despite heavy Houthi casualties in Marib last week, Yemeni authorities believe that the recent attacks were weaker than those carried out during the Houthi military onslaught on the city that began early last year and was paused after the truce.

Thousands of combatants and civilians were killed during the Houthi offensive, while thousands more were forced to flee to safer locations.

On Dec. 1, the US Navy’s Fifth Fleet intercepted a fishing trawler smuggling “more than 50 tons of ammunition rounds, fuses and propellants for rockets” in the Gulf of Oman along a maritime route from Iran to Yemen.

A statement said: “Navy personnel operating from expeditionary sea base USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3) discovered the illicit cargo during a flag verification boarding, marking US Fifth Fleet’s second major illegal weapons seizure within a month.”

Meanwhile, in the western province of Hodeidah, an explosive-laden drone launched by the Houthis into a mosque during Friday prayers in Al-Roun village in Hays district killed two worshipers and injured three more, local media and rights groups said.

A heartbreaking photograph of a weeping mother hugging her deceased son, who was slain in the mosque, has led to outrage and condemnation of Houthi strikes.

“The Houthi gang continues to inflict suffering on every Yemeni household and family,” Basem Banani, a Hodeidah-born Yemeni journalist said on Twitter, commenting on the photograph.

Human rights group Rights Radar criticized the Houthi assault on the mosque and urged the UN envoy to Yemen to assist in protecting people from Houthi strikes.

“Rights Radar called on the UN Yemen envoy, Hans Grundberg, and the UN mission in Hodeidah to assume moral responsibility for those who have been exposed to artillery or aerial bombardment with drones and landmines as a result of Houthi attacks,” the organization said.

 


Late artists’ memorabilia up for grabs in downtown Cairo

Muhammad Sameer Galaal Sabry. (Social media)
Muhammad Sameer Galaal Sabry. (Social media)
Updated 43 min 15 sec ago

Late artists’ memorabilia up for grabs in downtown Cairo

Muhammad Sameer Galaal Sabry. (Social media)
  • Al-Samry said: “It is sad to find among these items honorary shields for the late artist that bear his name

CAIRO: Memorabilia relating to the career of actor Samir Sabry has turned up for sale in small libraries in downtown Cairo.

Albums and plaques are among the items to have been found on sale following the actor’s death in May, at the age of 85.

Wael Al-Samry, editor-in-chief of the Egyptian newspaper Youm7, found a photograph album made during the filming of “The Warm Embrace,” a movie that was produced in 1974 and starred Sabry.

An album of press cuttings belonging to Sabry was also discovered, containing many rare pictures chronicling the stages of his life and his most important films.

It also included photographs taken with Abdel Halim Hafez, and director Antony Thomas.

The items found for sale also included posters from the actor’s most important films.

Al-Samry said: “It is sad to find among these items honorary shields for the late artist that bear his name.

“These shields reflect an important aspect of the late artist’s interests, activities, and his relationship with his community and his art.”

Al-Samry found the items shortly after journalist Essam Zakaria located memorabilia on Cairo’s sidewalks that had previously belonged to the late actor Nour El-Sherif.

Zakaria said: “The belongings of the late actor Nour El-Sherif are being sold inside and outside Egypt after they were put on the market about a year ago.

“They include dozens of his albums and books that are carefully bound and bear his name, and some bear his signature and handwritten notes.

“The belongings also include the awards that El-Sherif received, various donations from cultural institutions, a large number of movie posters, as well as family albums, awards, medals that he obtained, and papers, some of which are private.”