Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi delivered a highly unusual and surprising speech to Islamic clerics at Cairo's Al-Azhar University last week, and a translated version has been uploaded to the internet.
“It’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma (multinational community of Muslim believers) to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world,” Sisi declaimed. “Impossible!”
“That thinking – I am not saying ‘religion’ but ‘thinking’ – that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the years, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world. It’s antagonizing the entire world!
“Is it possible that 1.6 billion [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants – that is 7 billion – so that they themselves may live? Impossible!…
“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…because this umma is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost – and it is being lost by our own hands," said Sisi.