Official sources have uncovered Emirati pressure on the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmad Al-Tayeb to engage in the Saudi-Emirati campaign against the Muslim Brotherhood (MB).
The New Arab quoted sources in Al-Azhar's Council of Senior Scholars stating that Al-Tayeb was contacted by high-level United Arab Emirates (UAE) personalities to issue an anti-Muslim Brotherhood statement. However, the grand imam sought instead to convince the parties that forcing Al-Azhar into such conflicts weakens its position.
The newspaper added that Al-Tayeb, who chairs the Muslim Council of Elders (based in Abu Dhabi), refused to jeopardise his reputation, or that of Al-Azhar, by interfering in a political battle.
The sources stated that following Al-Tayeb's refusal to interfere, the UAE's Fatwa Council was forced to support the fatwa issued by the Saudi Council of Senior Scholars (CSS), which classified the MB as a "terrorist group".
The Saudi CSS issued a statement this month indicating that the MB is: "A terrorist group that does not represent the approach of Islam."
Later, the UAE's Fatwa Council announced a similar position, claiming that the MB and the extremist and violent groups that have emerged from it, have always been known for disobeying the rules and generating conflicts.
There is no declared presence of the MB in the UAE or Saudi Arabia, which hosted prominent leaders of the organisation in the past.