Al-Azhar denies interference to stonewall Salafi ministerial nomination

Egypt’s top Islamic institution, Al-Azhar, has denied it intervened to prevent the nomination of any minister in the anticipated Egyptian cabinet.

In statement on Monday, Mohamed Gemeya, director of Al-Azhar’s information office, said Grand Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb respects democratic practices and is confident that the new prime minister would choose qualified figures for ministerial posts, including the Ministry of Religious Endowments.

On Monday, the London-based newspaper Asharq al-Awsat reported that Tayyeb was in contact with officials to prevent the nomination of Mohamed Yousry Ibrahim for the endowments ministry. Ibrahim is from the ultraconservative Salafi school of Islam that would be at odds with Al-Azhar’s more moderate paradigm.

Reports that Ibrahim would be nominated stirred controversy among commentators, many of whom viewed it as a change from the usual selection of moderate figures for religious posts.

The Muslim Brotherhood supported Ibrahim’s parliamentary bid against former MP Mostafa al-Naggar. Ibrahim is the general secretary of the Legal Authority for Rights and Reform.  The Salafi-oriented board also includes Brotherhood leader Khairat al-Shater and other group members. Ibrahim denied Shater was pushing for his nomination.

The statement also called to keep Al-Azhar out of current intellectual and political conflicts, and demanded media outlets to ensure accuracy in reporting about Al-Azhar.

Newly-appointed Prime Minister Hesham Qandil has said the new government formation would be declared Thursday.


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