Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi says Islam needs a “religious revolution,” and is asking Muslim leaders from around the world to come together and fight extremism.
The president made the remarks on New Year’s. He said a revolution is needed because the Islamic world is tearing itself apart.
“I say and repeat, again, that we are in need of a religious revolution. You
imams are responsible before Allah.
The entire world is waiting on you. The entire world is waiting for your word … because the Islamic world is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost. And it is being lost by our own hands,” el-Sisi said.
“We need a revolution of the self, a revolution of consciousness and ethics to rebuild.”
el-Sisi, a former general in the Egyptian army and a religious himself, was elected Egypt’s President in May.
He led the ousting of Mohammed Morsi – an Islamist and Egypt’s first
democratically elected president – on July 3, 2013 and has consistently positioned himself as a secular leader and an opponent of extremist groups like
the Muslim Brotherhood.
“It’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire Islamic world to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world. Impossible that this thinking—and I am not saying the religion—I am saying this thinking,” el-Sisi said.
“This is antagonizing the entire world. It’s antagonizing the entire world! Does this mean that 1.6 billion people (Muslims) should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants—that is 7 billion—so that they themselves may live? Impossible!”
On Jan. 6, the president visited the main Coptic Church, known as the Hanging Church, in Cairo to attend a Christmas mass.
He is the first president in Egyptian history to attend a Christian mass. It
was an important symbolic move, especially as Christians and other religious minorities in Egypt continue to suffer persecution and the constant threat of lynch mobs and police brutality.
With nearly ten million Christians living in Egypt, it is the largest community of Christians in the Middle East.
“We will build our country together. We will accommodate each other. We
will love each other,” el-Sisi said.