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Mohamed bin Zayed visits Al Azhar, meets Grand Imam - UPDATE

CAIRO, 18th September 2014 (WAM) -- His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the U.A.E. Armed Forces, has commended the academic, cultural and civilisational role of Al Azhar Al Sharif in the Islamic World over centuries.

Sheikh Mohamed said Al Azhar has been playing a tremendous, commendable role in maintaining the tolerant message of Islam and promoting its fine principles of moderation, tolerance, goodness and peace.

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi made his remarks during a visit today to Al Azhar Sheikhdom in Cairo where he was welcomed by the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, Dr. Sheikh Ahmed Al Tayeb and a number of senior scholars.

His Highness said, ''We are glad to be in one of Islam's forts and a minaret of science and civilisation to express our profound appreciation and respect for the message of this grand institution in promoting the tolerant image and teachings of Islam and its role in preserving Egypt's national fabric as a united and coherent entity as well as its honourable role and stand against deviated ideas, extremists and fanatic trends.'' Sheikh Mohamed stressed the vital role of scholars in speaking out against misconceptions and ideas that distort the truth about religion and in correcting wrong beliefs that contradict the tolerance and spirit of Islam, emphasising that it is a core responsibility and top priority for scholars, especially at a time when solidarity is needed among Arabs and unity among Muslims.

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi also expressed appreciation for other Islamic and academic institutions which stand as a staunch defence line against violence, extremism and terrorism, preaching the true message of Islam for peace, safety and building of man and nations, abhorring destructive ideas and misleading sabotaging slogans which target tolerance of Islam and stability of ''our Arab and Muslim countries.'' He stressed the vital need for supporting Al Azhar in its quest to safeguard true Islamic values and its standing against intimidation, violence and destruction, indicating that the U.A.E. is keen to bolster its cooperation with Al Azhar and to continue its support for it in all areas that serve Islam and Muslims in scientific, religious, educational and knowledge fields.

The Grand Imam of Al Azhar praised the visit of Sheikh Mohamed, saying, "This visit is an extension of the ties established by the late founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, with Egypt and its people. It follows the sustained historic stances of the U.A.E. which left a good impression in hearts of the Egyptian people as they sourced from a kind heart that loves Egypt and its people.'' He expressed his gratitude to President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan for his support for Egypt at a time when it is in desperate need of support from its brothers, saying that this is what the U.A.E. leadership and people have always proven in reality with Egypt and other countries.

Sheikh Mohamed and Dr. Al Tayeb exchanged views on a variety of issues that the region is experiencing and stressed the importance of mobilising efforts to confront challenges, seditions, and mongers of violence and terrorism. They also affirmed the need for portraying the true, bright image and fine teachings of Islam.

Dr. Al Tayeb presented a commemorative shield to Sheikh Mohamed in honour of his visit.

WAM/tfaham/Moran WAM 1712 2014/09/18 END