Much as it breaks my heart that Sheikh Tantawi, who has blessed suicide terrorism, has suspended cooperation between Al-Azhar and American institutions, I think in this case American officials should imitate Tantawi. That’s right: imitate him. Instead of sending two billion a year to our putative Egyptian ally, make that aid contingent on Egypt’s ceasing to teach violent jihad in its schools and mosques, and granting to Coptic Christians full equality of rights. And if they don’t, suspend all cooperation.
From IslamOnline, with thanks to Sr. Soph:
CAIRO, October 15, 2005 (IslamOnline.net) — Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, the highest seat of religious learning in the Sunni world, has decided to shun American officials and freeze cooperation with all US institutions after Washington denied one of its senior officials an entry visa.
“Grand Imam Sheikh Mohammad Sayyed Tantawi decided to ban US officials from entering the headquarter of Al Azhar Sheikhdom in Cairo suspended cooperation with official American institutions,” well-placed sources told IslamOnline.net on Saturday, October 15.
“He also decided not to send Al-Azhar scholars to the US in the future even if Washington granted them entry,” they added.
After weeks of procrastination, the US Embassy in Cairo refused to give Sheikh Abdul Hamid Al-Atrash, the head of Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee, an entry visa, giving no reasons.
Sheikh Tantawi had nominated the prominent scholar to give lectures and sermons at a number of American Islamic centers during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The United States requested this year 22 imams and preachers to meet the religious needs of the Muslim minority during the dawn-to-dusk month.
Although there was no immediate comment from the American embassy, sources expected American diplomats to apologize for Sheikh Tantawi and eventually give Al-Atrash the visa.