Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – The crisis at Al-Azhar University has reached new dimensions, with University staff preventing the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar Dr. Ahmed al-Tayyib from entering his offices. The staff stood outside the Al-Azhar University to prevent Dr. al-Tayyib from entering, demanded that he step down and that all consultants appointed during his tenure be removed. After al-Tayyib found that he could not gain entry to the religious institute that he heads, he visited the Egyptian armed forces headquarters, where he offered his resignation to the Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.
Al-Azhar University staff barred the door of the institute to Grand Sheikh al-Tayyib, who stood outside the institute for some time unable to enter. He eventually visited the Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces headquarters, where he met with Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi and offered his resignation, according to a source close to the Grand Sheikh. However, Tantawi refused to accept al-Tayyib’s resignation, he said that the country is passing through a difficult phase, and called on the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar to be patient.
The source also told Asharq Al-Awsat that Dr. al-Tayyib went straight from the armed forces headquarters to his home. Dr. al-Tayyib has refused to comment on the incident, however the source described al-Tayyib’s mood from being “extremely poor.”
Following the 25 January revolution in Egypt, voices within Al-Azhar University have been calling for more independence, and for comprehensive judicial supervision, as well as for the removal of the religious consultants and advisors hired by Dr. al-Tayyib.
A delegation from the Egyptian armed forces later arrived at Al-Azhar to meet with the protestors, who presented their demands which were passed on to Dr. al-Tayyib. The demands include the removal of all consultants previously appointed by Dr. al-Tayyib, as well as Al-Azhar’s independence from the state.
A source close to the Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar informed Asharq Al-Awsat that this is the second time that Dr. Ahmed al-Tayyib has offered his resignation since the 25 January revolutions, however both offers were rejected by the Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces that is currently ruling Egypt during this transitional period. The source also revealed that Dr. al-Tayyib has spoken about being prepared to resign as Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar, head of Egypt’s most senior religious body, but that he fears that this may give root to chaos in the Islamic institute, as well as could open the door to him being charged with treason.
Hundreds of Al-Azhar staff yesterday protested in front of the university, preventing the Grand Sheikh from entering. The demonstrators called on him to step down as well as calling for the removal of the advisers he appointed, particularly Jamal Abu al-Hassan, Mumtaz al-Said, Dr. Abdul-Daim Nasser, and others, who the protestors claim are being paid thousands of pounds without doing any work. The protestors also accused these figures of seizing Zakat and charity funds, and called for the removal of all military personnel from al-Azhar.