Participants in the second convention of the International Muslim Scholars Union criticized the dispute between Egypt and Algeria in the wake of World Cup qualifying match in Sudan.
The scholars stressed that behavior in both countries during the ongoing feud between Egypt and Algeria is at odds with the teachings of Islam. They also said that media has contributed to the escalation in tensions and that governments use soccer as a tool to manipulate their citizens. They emphasized that sports are designed to boost relations between countries rather than cause conflict.
"A nation that makes football its primary motive for conflict thinks with its feet rather than its brain, thus forgetting the core issues of concern for the Islamic world, most important of which is Jerusalem," said Mohamed Omara, an Islamic thinker.
"If anybody is planning a coup, he can do that during a soccer match, as states allow protests and crowding, but simultaneously refuse any demonstrations for political parties," Omara added.
Omara also said that what is currently being practiced in matches violates the sports ethics taught to children. It is rather, he said, a kind of fighting. Omara says this is a trend that must be stopped.
"In the past, conflicts were between Sunnis and Shia, but it has now turned into an Arab-Arab fight over football matches, leading to summoning the Algerian ambassador, a move that has never been taken with the Israeli ambassador."
Omara cited a verse from the Quran that says, "Mohamed is the apostle of Allah, and those who believe in him are tough against the unbelievers, but compassionate to each other" and said that what is going on now is the exact opposite of what the Quran teaches.
Omara emphasized that the media is a major contributors to the problem, along with the governments that manipulate their people through soccer. He noted that many rulers fail to attend Arab summit meetings, but are keen on attending football matches.
Ibrahim Bayoumy, a professor of history and political science, said that Turkish president Abdullah Gul managed to use his country’s World Cup qualifying match against Armenia to restore relations between the two states, which has been cut since Armenia’s independence in 1991.
Bayoumy noted that what is happening now between Egypt and Algeria goes against sports ethics and stands against the message of tolerance promoted by sports in general and soccer in particular.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.