Indonesian president welcomes Grand Sheikh of Al Azhar, emphasizing peace, tolerance

Indonesian President Joko Widodo welcomed the Grand Sheikh of Al Azhar Egypt, Prof. Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed Al-Thayeb, at the Merdeka Palace, Jakarta, on Tuesday (July 9, 2024). (The Indonesian Cabinet Secretariat)

Grand Sheikh of Egypt’s Al Azhar, Prof. Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed Al-Thayeb, met Indonesian President Joko Widodo, discussing the importance of peace and tolerance as well as efforts to strengthen interfaith dialogue.


Jakarta (Indonesia Window) – Indonesian President Joko Widodo welcomed the Grand Sheikh of Egypt’s Al Azhar, Prof. Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed Al-Thayeb, at the Merdeka Palace in Capital Jakarta on Tuesday.

The visit was part of a series of trips by Prof. Al-Thayeb to Southeast Asia, including Malaysia and Thailand.

The Egyptian religious figure visited Indonesia for the third time after previously being in 2016 and 2018, Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi said after accompanying President Widodo, adding that the main aim of the visit was to promote moderate Islam and interfaith dialogue.

“At the meeting, the president said that after the visit by the Grand Sheikh, there will be a visit from the Pope in September, to bring a very strong message about the importance of peace and the importance of tolerance,” Foreign Minister Retno explained.

At the meeting with the Grand Sheikh, the head of state discussed three important things. The first is related to relations between Indonesia and Egypt, especially in the field of education. The President underlined that 95 percent of Indonesian citizens in Egypt are students.

“The Grand Sheikh said that he had never received complaints from Indonesian students, which means the character of Indonesian students is good,” Retno said, adding that President Widodo also encouraged formation of Al Azhar‘s Markaz Tatweer in Indonesia.

The second thing discussed was the importance of peace and tolerance. The president said that currently wars and conflicts are occurring everywhere, including in Gaza, Palestine, so it is important for all parties to continue to advocate for a permanent ceasefire, facilitate access to humanitarian aid, and achieve peace immediately.

“In responding to this, the Grand Sheikh considerably agrees with the president’s view that the wars must be ended immediately and peace must be realized. Therefore, unity is needed in the world, all countries must encourage peace in Gaza, peace for the Palestinian people, including unity among Muslim countries,” she pointed out.

The next thing discussed was strengthening interfaith dialogue. President Wwidodo said, Indonesia is a very diverse nation and tolerance is Indonesia’s ‘DNA’.

“The president explained about Pancasila (Indonesia’s state ideology) and Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (the country’s motto). Indonesia continues to closely follow Al Azhar’s role and reputation in encouraging tolerance and moderation. The president emphasized the importance of joint efforts to increase the values ​​of tolerance and peace through interfaith dialogue to prevent the growth of extremism and Islamophobia,” Retno said.

Reporting by Indonesia Window

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