Al-Azhar rejects military attack on Syria

Al-Azhar issued a statement Sunday rejecting US President Barack Obama’s decision to launch a military strike against Syria, denouncing it as an “assault on the Arab and Islamic nation.”

In a speech on Saturday Obama said he had decided the US should take military action against the Syrian regime, but would formally ask Congress to authorize it. The decision follows an attack that killed hundreds in the countryside near Damascus, possibly due to the use of chemical weapons, on August 21. Details of the attack remain murky, but the US has suggested the Syrian government was behind it.

Al-Azhar, a Cairo university and mosque that is Sunni Islam’s highest authority, said the likely attack would not only be an assault on the Arab and Islamic nation, but a threat to international peace and security. At the same time it denounced the use of chemical weapons, “regardless of who is using them.”

Last week, Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy said Egypt will not take part in any attack targeting Syria, asserting that the country stands against foreign intervention there.