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Biased media cannot harm Egypt–Saudi relations: Azhar Grand Sheikh | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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File photo of Egyptian Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayeb (AP Photo)

File photo of Egyptian Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayeb (AP Photo)

File photo of Egyptian Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayeb (AP Photo)

Mecca, Asharq Al-Awsat—Biased media outlets cannot harm the historical ties that bind Egypt and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Al-Azhar Grand Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb said.

In exclusive comments to Asharq Al-Awsat, the head of Egypt’s Al-Azhar Institute—the highest religious authority in the North African state—criticized “biased” media outlets and their attempts to drive a wedge between Riyadh and Cairo.

“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its government are pursuing the same policy [towards Egypt] that it has long been known for, and this is something that we have felt for ourselves in Egypt,” Said Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb.

“The Egyptian people are not listening to deviant and biased media and their attempts to incite fitna,” he added.

Fitna is an Arabic term meaning “sedition” or “civil strife” that is often associated with sectarian conflict.

“I would like to send a message of thanks from every Egyptian to this brotherly nation which has a special place in our hearts,” the Azhar Grand Sheikh told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb was talking to Asharq Al-Awsat against the backdrop of an anti-extremism conference organized by the Muslim World League in Mecca.

His comments come in the wake of a leaked audio recording purporting to be a conversation between Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and advisers discussing ways in which to convince Gulf leaders to donate money to Egypt. The recording, reportedly taken when Sisi was defense minister, shows him talking about Gulf leaders with disdain.

Both Egypt and Gulf states reacted strongly to the leaked recording, reaffirming the strong ties between Egypt and the Arab Gulf. Sisi spoke with all Arab Gulf leaders in the wake of the release of the leaked recording, with official media outlets confirming that relations remain as strong as ever.

In a televised address on Sunday, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi announced that attempts to harm ties between Cairo and the Gulf had failed, stressing the importance of Arab states uniting to counter the growing challenges facing the region, including Islamic extremism.

Sisi praised the support of Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

“This support was the main reason why Egypt was able to persevere against all of the challenges and difficulties,” Sisi said.