Speaking before Al-Azhar and the Awqaf Ministry on New Year’s Day, 2015, and in connection to Prophet Muhammad’s upcoming birthday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a vocal supporter for a renewed vision of Islam, made a forceful and impassioned plea to Muslim leaders.
President Al-Sisi called to combat extremist ideology and said: “We need to revolutionize our religion.” Calling for “religious discourse that is in keeping with its times,” Al-Sisi warned that “the Islamic nation is being torn apart and destroyed” by extremism.
“It’s inconceivable,” Sisi stated, “that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma [Islamic world] to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world. Impossible!”
One reporter asked: “Even after the global uprising of the head-chopping, infidel-crucifying Islamic State, politicians like U.S. President Obama and U.K. Prime Minister Cameron insisted that the ‘caliphate’ is not Islamic, despite all the evidence otherwise. Yet here is Sisi, the pious Muslim, saying that ‘the majority of the terrorism plaguing the world today is related to the holy texts of Islam themselves.’”
That thinking [that is responsible for producing “anxiety, danger, killing and destruction” around the world]—I am not saying “religion” but “thinking”—that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the centuries, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world. It’s antagonizing the entire world!”
Why is the rest of the world afraid to say about Muslim radicals what the Muslim President of Egypt is willing to say about his own religion?
Thus, I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move…. I am saying these words here at Al Azhar, before this assembly of scholars and ulema—Allah Almighty be witness to your truth on Judgment Day concerning that which I’m talking about now.”
The American Spectator reported that while Sisi was making these groundbreaking if not historic statements, the main stream media, true to form, ignored them and instead offered puerile and redundant headlines, most critical of Sisi and mocking his message:
• “Egypt President Sisi urged to free al-Jazeera reporter” (BBC Jan. 1; to which I respond, “Why, so Al Jazeera can continue lying and misleading the West about Sisi and Egypt’s anti-Muslim Brotherhood revolution?”)
• “Egyptian gays living in fear under Sisi regime” (USA Today, Jan. 2; to which I respond, “Homosexuals live in fear in all Islamic nations, regardless of Sisi.”)
• “George Clooney’s wife Amal risks arrest in Egypt” (Fox News, Jan. 3; to which I respond, “Who cares? Only her innocence or guilt matter, not her husband’s fame”—which is the only reason Fox News chose the story in the first place.)
Sisi said further “called on all who follow the true Islam to improve the image of this religion in front of the world, after Islam has been for decades convicted of violence and destruction around the world, due to the crimes falsely committed in the name of Islam.”