The Grand Imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar Mosque has condemned the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, according to Daily News Egypt.
In a televised statement published on the mosque’s Facebook page on Friday, Imam Ahmed El-Tayab criticised the international community for “failing to save” the Rohingya from the “savagely barbarous attacks entirely unprecedented in the history of humankind”.
He pledged to pressure Arab and Muslim governments into enacting sanctions on Myanmar to stop the atrocities.
“It is very important, before anything else, that the decision makers in the Arab and Muslim countries shall do their utmost and put political and economic pressures to bring the government of Myanmar to their senses … so that they stop the ethnic and religious discrimination against Muslim citizens.”
An attached statement signed by the Imam also called on international human rights groups to collect evidence of war crimes committed against the Rohingya in order to convict the perpetrators at the International Court of Justice.
He reiterated his position again in a speech in Germany yesterday where he also emphasised the role that Western intervention and geopolitical wars had played in destabilising the region: “The region has become a stage for arms races and regional and international conflicts.”
Despite being restricted from assessing the full situation on the ground by the Myanmar government, the UN has found evidence of ethnic cleansing being perpetuated against the Rohingya. Some 290,000 are believed to have fled since violence re-erupted in the Rakhine state two weeks ago. Amnesty International has also accused the Myanmar military of planting landmines at the border with Bangladesh to target those who try to escape the violence.
The Rohingya are considered the world’s most persecuted people, and the conflict has attracted severe condemnation of Myanmar’s leader Nobel Peace Prize winner Ang San Suu Kyi, with many calling for her award to be withdrawn. The organisation that oversees the prize has responded to such calls, stating that it is impossible for the accolade to be rescinded.
Suu Kyi maintains that the army is responding to alleged attacks by Rohingya militants and denies accusations of genocide.
Last week, it was also revealed that Israel has continued to aid the Myanmar government, despite the arms embargo adopted by the US and the EU; the Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lierberman having previously stated regarding the conflict: “The matter is clearly diplomatic”. Arab representatives in Israel’s Knesset have condemned Tel Aviv’s role in the massacres carried out by Myanmar armed forces, calling for such sales to be stopped.
Turkey has played a major role in delivering humanitarian relief to the Rohingyan refugees, with First Lady Emine Erdogan distributing the first of the aid shipments to a camp near the border last week. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has also continued efforts at diplomacy and urged Muslim countries to “use every means available” to stop the current bloodshed.