Behind the tense relationship between Sisi and Al-Azhar Grand Sheikh

Source: Egyptian Institute for Studies

Author(s): AbdelRahman Khaldoun

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Al-Azhar Al-Sharif as a religious institution is central to the complex relationship between religion and politics in Egypt. Al-Azhar’s position in the political system is highly complicated and problematic due to the authoritarian nature of the regime, and its quest to control the religious sphere and discourse, as well as religious institutions, and its attempt to nationalize and dominate religion for the benefit of the state, and thus put forward its own version of Islam based on its vision of what it calls religious ‘renovation’.

This has reflected on the relationship between the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb, and the head of the regime, General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, where the relationship between the two men remained tense most of the time, and even exploded from time to time in certain files and on various occasions.

The paper addresses the background of this problem and its developments, as well as what the anti-coup political forces in Egypt should do in this context.

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