Lebanese PM meets Al-Azhar Gram Imam

Former Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora handed Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmad al-Tayeb the Future Movement’s political manifesto during a visit to the Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo yesterday.

The presentation of the document came during a visit by Siniora and former Minister Tarek Mitri, several months after the mosque’s declaration of its bill of rights.

Following a meeting among its religious and political leaders earlier this year, Al-Azhar announced its commitment to a democratic society with equal social, religious and political rights for all Egyptians.

Al-Azhar’s statements have been welcomed by numerous Lebanese politicians and religious figures who have praised the Egyptian scholars for their openness to a pluralistic society, despite the Muslim Brotherhood’s emergence to power in Egypt.

The Future Movement’s manifesto, released in early March, says that the so-called Arab Spring provided Lebanon with an opportunity to overcome some of its most endemic problems by easing tensions between Muslim sects and encouraging reform.

According to the manifesto, real and effective cooperation among Arab League members and democratic change in Syria are necessary for boosting bilateral ties between Damascus and Beirut.

During the meeting on Sunday, also attended by Lebanon’s ambassador to Cairo, Khaled Ziyadeh, Siniora and Mitri discussed with Tayeb the recent developments in the Arab world and post-Mubarak Egypt.

Siniora praised Al-Azhar’s recent document, which he said directly addressed the ongoing developments in the Arab world.

Siniora said the work carried out by Al-Azhar Mosque makes it a moderate institution that stands against extremism. Tayeb said that Egypt and the entire region were going through an important period and called for unity and progress in the Arab world to fight religious extremism.

Also Sunday, Siniora met with Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby at the league’s headquarters in Cairo, according to Daily Star.