SHAYKH ALI GOMAA
Attacks on demonstrators merit the strongest condemnation
It is with a heavy heart that I have watched the events of the past few days unfold. Violence is always regrettable, but to watch my own country deteriorate into virtual chaos is a cause of unimaginable grief and sadness, and the recent attacks against demonstrators are worthy of the strongest condemnation. The land of Egypt is dear not only to me, and to its 80 million citizens, but indeed to the whole world for its fundamental and substantial contributions to human civilization for over seven millennia. To see it in such a state of chaos is truly heart-wrenching.
There is, however, reason for hope and optimism. As the Qur’an teaches us, “With every difficulty, there comes ease.” It is with great national pride that I affirm my confidence and trust in the Egyptian people that they will refrain from violence and aggression and to return to peace and calm. At that point, our nation will have the capacity to engage in some profound introspection and soul-searching to make sense of the new state of affairs.
Until then, however, the lives and welfare of our countrymen—regardless of their political beliefs—must be our first priority. Security must be ensured, the rule of law must be respected, and people’s basic needs must be met. These considerations must take precedence in such a time of crisis. I salute those who have demonstrated immense courage in protecting their families and their neighborhoods in the face of indiscriminate looting.
Fundamental reforms are needed—right now
There is no denying that we are on the edge of a new period of Egyptian political and social life. The youth of our nation have organized en masse to raise their demands and make their voices heard, hoping for change. They have demonstrated great resolve in their pursuit of fundamental reforms, and indeed reform is a necessity. Indeed, I have long called—through the Misr El Kheir Foundation—for comprehensive reforms in economics, health, and social solidarity. This foundation supports educational efforts, scientific and medical research, and environmental initiatives by drawing on the expertise of the business community to channel funds towards the needy and vulnerable in Egypt.
I add my voice to calls to engage in dialogue, and urge that the time has now come to translate all of these calls into tangible results. Practical steps must be undertaken to ensure an immediate and direct implementation of serious reform measures.
The current situation we are living in is unprecedented—lives have been lost, people have been injured, homes and businesses have been looted. It is unacceptable that our fellow citizens should be subjected to such danger. It should be the demand of every citizen that those who have perpetrated such violence be brought to full justice for their crimes.
Egypt is much more than its president
Egypt must rise united and triumphant after this period of crisis. Egypt is much more than its presidential figure. It is a nation of richness, culture, and sincerity, and its contributions and history speak for themselves. It is a nation made by its people; genuine and dedicated. It is a country of crucial political importance to the region, and it is in the interest of all involved in the international community to do their utmost to help its people ensure its stability and prosperity. I reiterate my confidence in the Egyptian people to work with them towards this ultimate goal.
Shaykh Ali Gomaa is Grand Mufti of Egypt. One of the most respected jurists in the Sunni Muslim world, he heads the Dar al Ifta, which issues thousands of legal judgments per week.