“Tolerance has its limits. Get it? Tolerance has its limits.” Oh I get it, Sheikh Tantawi. I get it.
“Sheik of Al-Azhar Muhammad Sayyed Tantawi Appalled after Newspaper Depicted Him in Christian Garb,” from MEMRITV, October 3 (but just posted):
Following are excerpts from an interview with Sheik of Al-Azhar Muhammad Sayyed Tantawi, which aired on Dream 2 TV on October 3, 2008.
Sheik Muhammad Sayyed Tantawi: I filed a lawsuit because the Al-Fajr newspaper wrote bad and ugly things about me. The newspaper did not limit itself to words, but ran a picture of me on its front page, with a cross on my chest. The expressions used by this newspaper are so disgusting that I cannot bring myself to utter them.
Interviewer: Some intellectuals, including Dr. Mustafa Al-Fiqi [Chairman of the Egyptian Parliament’s Foreign Relations Committee], who testified in court, said that the picture of the Imam Tantawi dressed like a priest or a monk does not constitute an offense.
Interviewer: According to the court protocols, Al-Fiqi said: “The picture the newspaper published of the Sheik of Al-Azhar holding a cross and wearing the Christian dress does not constitute even a minimal offense, because these are the clothes of the Christian religion.”
Tantawi: They can dress me in the clothes of the Christian religion?! If he really said that, he is wrong, wrong, wrong!
Interviewer: He said that…
Tantawi: Then he is wrong, wrong, wrong!
Interviewer: In your view, it is an offense to dress you up in Christian clothes?
Tantawi: Of course.
Interviewer: Al-Fiqi said that we cannot consider the clothes of the Christian religion…
Tantawi: When they dress the Sheik of Al-Azhar in these clothes?! That’s what he said?! If he really said that, I repeat for the third time: He is wrong, wrong, wrong! I personally regret that he said such a thing, because it points to ignorance. It is inconceivable to superimpose a picture of Patriarch Shinoda on mine, or to superimpose a picture of what’s-his-name from the Vatican on mine. Patriarch Shinoda has his own traditional dress, the Vatican has its own, and so do I. What Dr. Al-Fiqi said is illogical, illegal, and in bad taste.
Interviewer: You represent tolerance in Islam.
Tantawi: Tolerance has its limits. Get it? Tolerance has its limits.
Interviewer: So tolerance has its limits, and you cannot be tolerant in this case?