Al-Azhar grand sheikh summons political forces for talks to end violence

Leading political, governmental and religious figures have released a document renouncing violence at a dialogue Thursday hosted by Al-Azhar Grand Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb.

Tayyeb hosted the meeting with leading figures from the church, National Salvation Front and Muslim Brotherhood and a number of activists in an attempt to find a solution to ongoing violence that has claimed more than 50 lives since last week.

Pope Tawadros II had said during a Wednesday sermon that the Coptic Church would participate with Tayyeb on Thursday to submit a document to the community renouncing violence and calling for serious dialogue to save the nation from chaos.

During his sermon, which celebrated the day of Saint Anthony, the founder of monasticism, the pope said, “We reject all violence and all images showing the people of Egypt fighting. We pray for peace, and share our efforts for social peace and stability of the country.”

Thursday’s meeting was attended by FJP chairman Saad al-Katatny and Brotherhood figures including Abdel Rahman al-Bar, and leaders from the opposition coalition National Salvation Front including Mohamed ElBaradei, Amr Moussa, al-Sayyed al-Badawy and Hamdeen Sabbahi.

The leaders of the Strong Egypt, Wasat, New Ghad and Reform and Development parites also attended, as well as representatives from the Free Egyptians Party and Salafi parties. Islamic preacher Mohamed Hassan, church leaders such as Moneir Hanna and activist Wael Ghonim and former MP Mostafa al-Naggar also participated.

Tayyeb called on convening political forces to denounce violence and militant groups and preserve the peaceful nature of the 25 January revolution.

He said the meeting was held upon the request of some youth that he chose not to name to discuss the escalating situation and potential solutions.

Dialogue is the only means to resolve differences and crises, he said.

ElBaradei said after the meeting he was optimistic that the political forces will exert the utmost effort to rebuild confidence in political powers.

Former MP Mostafa al-Naggar said, “We agreed to form a joint committee between the National Salvation Front, Freedom and Justice Party, Nour Party as well as youth to prepare for an immediate and comprehensive national dialogue.”

“This is thanks to Al-Azhar, the church and the youth,” he added.

FJP chairman Saad al-Katatny said the political forces agreed to renounce violence and to hold a national dialogue.

He said that all parties expressed readiness to compromise and showed flexibility in order to hold a dialogue.

Wasat Party head Abul Ela Madysaid political forces signed the Al-Azhar document as a complement to the national dialogue sponsored by President Mohamed Morsy.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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