The Grand Mufti of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayyeb has sent a clear message on the preservation of historical heritage whose destruction is being threatened by terrorist groups "swarming" around the world.
Speaking at the International Conference for the Protection of Cultural Heritage in Conflict Areas in the Emirati capital Abu Dhabi, the Mufti reiterated Islam's deep commitment to the preservation of historical heritage and condemned the "terrorists who are destroying this heritage that belongs to all human beings".
"These terrorists, who claim to be from our religion, are in fact ignorant, and Islam condemns them in the strongest terms," Al-Tayyeb explained. "Acts against this heritage to erase the history of peoples are in conflict with the teaching of Islam. Islam considers these barbaric acts as a major crime against humanity."
"I am delighted with this initiative that brings together East and West around our common values to reform everything that has been corrupted by the barbarity of terrorism and repair what has been destroyed by fanaticism which aims to ruin our civilisations, erasing cultural traces and the precious heritage we, the generations of today, are the happy heirs of."
He went on to describe the historical heritage destroyed by groups like Daesh in places like Syria and Iraq as "violations of human heritage and a crime against civilisation, against which religions, traditions and common sense naturally rise."
"It is also noteworthy that Al-Azhar, which teaches sciences of Islam for over a thousand years, is surrounded by Pharaonic monuments as well as Coptics and Muslims. Never have any of the clerics issued a fatwa to destroy these monuments."
The conference, held under the patronage of UNESCO, brought together heads of states and ministers from over 40 countries, as well as representatives from international organizations and museums.