Sisi and Rouhani on Crisis in Islam

By Rachel Ehrenfeld
Tuesday, December 29th, 2015 @ 12:04AM

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Left: Egypt President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi addressing Islamic scholars at al-Azhar university in Cairo, December 22, 2015.

Two Muslim Presidents. Two speeches celebrating the anniversary of Prophet Muhammad’s birth. Two very different messages.

Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, on two different occasions ((Dec. 22 and Dec. 24) iterated his call for “changes in approach” that would bring Islam peaceful coexistence of all races, religions and doctrines. He stated: “No one should define someone by their appearance or religion.”

Sisi insisted Muslims should acknowledge that times have changed and, therefore, Islam has to be modernized.

He called again upon the religious scholars at al-Azhar, the highest institute of Sunni Islamic learning, urging them, “Refute the malicious ideas and warped interpretation. Dispel the perplexity of minds and hesitation of hearts. Change all this into an established faith that tolerance does not contradict with religion and that accepting the other does not oppose faith and that the best of people is the most who benefits them all, not benefits Muslims only.” 

Days later, in a televised speech, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, made it clear he does not want to modernize Islam. Instead, he called “to repair the image of Islam in the eyes of the world public.”

On December 27, Rouhani spoke of the crisis in the Islamic world before some 300 participants (mostly Shite) at the opening ceremony of the 29th annual meeting of The World Forum for Proximity of Islamic Schools of Thought (WFPIST) in Teheran.  

According to Rouhani, “cultural or economic poverty” caused the crisis in Islam, which is being fueled by large quantities of weapons that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia are using and distributing “to militant groups and using them against other Muslim nations.” All this, according to Rouhani, is done to benefit Israel.

Rouhani claimed Islam’s image has been tarnished by its enemies and big powers, and called on all Muslims to unite their efforts “to thwart all efforts aimed at depicting Islam as the religion of violence.”

He did not miss the opportunity to remind his audience that Iran has an unmatched record of pursuing “a world without violence.”  Iran, he said, can settle even the most complicated international problem through wisdom at the negotiating table, as it managed to convince the P5+1 group

 to sign the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), giving Iran the green light to develop nuclear weapons and the money to do so, and more.

Sisi’s important speeches were barely mentioned in the media. But judging by Iran’s growing popularity in the West and the regimes craftiness in getting its way by pooling the wool over the willfully blind, it may not be long before we encounter Islam’s new image a la mode du Iran. One can only hope we can survive the introduction. 

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Categories: ACD/EWI Blog, ACD/EWI Exclusive, Arab, Arms, Egypt, El Sisi, Hasan Rouhani, Iran, Iran Nuclear agreement, Iran Talks, Islam, Islam image, Israel, modernize Islam, Muslim, P5+1, Saudi, Saudi Arabia