Tantawi Begins Three-Day Visit to the UK
The grand cleric of al Azhar, the top Sunni Muslim authority in the world, Sheikh Mohammed Sayyed Tantawi met in London on Tuesday British prime minister Tony Blair at no. 10 Downing Street at the start of a three-day visit to the UK aimed at enhancing dialogue and understanding with Britain’s Anglican church.
A Downing Street spokesman was quoted by agencies a s saying that Tantawi represents "a strong influential voice" in the Arab world and Blair took the opportunity to voice his appreciation of the major role played by the cleric in fostering inter-faith dialogue.
The prime minister also emphasized during the meeting the importance he attaches to listening to the moderate important Islamic voices, he added.
The British leader equally reaffirmed to Tantawi that the war in Afghanistan and measures taken by the UK in the wake of September 11 were directed at terrorism and not against Islam.
Sheikh al Azhar is due to meet representatives of the Muslim leaders in Britain during a visit to the Islamic cultural center, in Regents Park, central London on Wednesday.
In the afternoon, he is scheduled to attend the ceremony of signing the "agreement of dialogue and understanding" between al Azhar and the Anglican church.
On Thursday, Tantawi will call on the heir to the British throne Prince Charles, who has consistently supported the promotion of dialogue and understanding between Islam and the west. On January 22nd, more than a dozen senior Muslim, Christian and Jewish leaders from the holy land concluded an unprecedented joint declaration pledging themselves to work together for a just and lasting peace.
The agreement, to be known as the "First Alexandria Declaration of Religious Leaders of the Holy Land" was approved on that day at a landmark conference in Alexandria, chaired by the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr George Carey. (albawaba.com)