In October 2001, right after 9/11, the New York Times called Al-Azhar “the revered mosque, the distinguished university, the leading voice of the Sunni Muslim establishment.” It quoted a Muslim cleric: “Al Azhar is the only institution in the world that has learned the moderate Islam and taught it in a moderate way without fanaticism, and without abiding by the teachings of a school that promotes rigidity or violence.”
In June 2009 at al-Azhar, Barack Obama said: “For over a thousand years, Al-Azhar has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning, and for over a century, Cairo University has been a source of Egypt’s advancement.”
In sum, this is not some “fringe” “extremist” calling for the destruction of the freedom of speech and establishment of Muslims as a special, privileged class in the West.
“Al-Azhar Imam urges UN to issue law banning insulting symbols of Islam,” from the Egypt State Information Service, September 15 (thanks to David):
Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Dr. Ahmed el-Tayyeb in a statement to the Secretary General of the United Nations on Saturday 15/9/2012 stressed the need of a UN resolution to prohibit insulting symbols and sanctities of Islam by some fools and misguided, who do not know the value of social peace among peoples and agitate seditions among them.
Dr. Tayyeb called for punishing those who committed such heinous acts and insulted Prophet Muhammad of Islam.
Tayyeb also urged Ban Ki-moon to work for the adoption of this resolution thus criminalizing insulting symbols of Islam and other religions in order to avoid repetition of such acts in the future.