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Courses from Egypt's Al-Azhar University Heading to Denmark
by David J. Rusin • Apr 27, 2008 at 12:50 pm
Danish Muslims will no longer have to visit Cairo to immerse their minds in the curriculum of Al-Azhar University, frequently cited as the center of learning in Sunni Islam. The classes are coming to them:
The new venture intends to "confront misconceptions about Islam and explain the true Islam to the European society." One imagines this to be yet another response to the row over cartoons of Mohammed published by a Danish newspaper in September 2005.
But what kind of education will these students receive? For insight into the worldview that characterizes Al-Azhar, one must begin with Muhammad Sayyed Tantawi, the university's grand sheikh. In the 1970s Tantawi penned a 700-page tome that rationalizes Muslim Jew-hatred. More recently, he has praised suicide bombings of civilians and called for the beheading of anyone who insults the holy books or prophets of monotheistic faiths.
As for the curriculum of Al-Azhar, one former student — who was expelled and arrested for his publications on a reformist website — has written that the university promotes "things that contradict reason and incite to violence against people of other beliefs." A liberal professor at Cairo University has likewise criticized the school for employing the texts of "extremist sheikhs":
Which brings us to an even more troubling question: will they teach this same way of thinking to Muslims in Denmark?