Through Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, writer Mamdouh Al-Muhaini described Al-Azhar Grand Sheikh, Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb, as “the last of those angry at the statements of the European Union’s High Coordinator for Foreign Policy Josep Borrell, in which he described Europe as a garden and the world around it as a jungle,” which sparked great controversy. He did not start with the Sheikh of Al-Azhar and did not end with him, even after Borrell himself expressed a lot of retraction about the purpose of his statements, in the manner: “I am lying… but I am beautifying,” and this is an intentional distortion on my part of the title of the story of Ihsan Abdul Quddus.
The description that al-Muhaini used for Imam al-Tayyib as “the last of the angry” undoubtedly means that there are many angry people, and these angry people, with a simple look at the search engines, are diverse in their jobs, nationalities, cultures and religions. To multi-directional statements, and even great cultural discomfort even within the European continent and among its elites, among them, for example, Philip Marlier, Professor of European Studies at the University of London, who said that Borrell’s analogy is “terribly offensive, with strong colonial and racist undertones”, described by David Low as “A delusional man, he needs a crash course on geopolitics to be able to put things right”, while MEPs demanded his retirement, and European diplomats described him as “presenting the worst practices of public communication.”
Most likely, this is very much enough to respond to Borrell’s claim that his statements were misunderstood, as they cannot provide a communicative content, reaching many minds, diverse and diverse backgrounds and cultures with the same meaning and content, then instead of saying that you misused the vocabulary or expression, you say that the recipient is the one who missunderstood.
Likewise, the same European annoyance with the statements of the foreign policy coordinator may be sufficient to respond to al-Muhini’s generalization, and considers him that those who are angry at Borrell’s statement are necessarily “discontented with Western civilization,” while he says this in the context of presenting the position of the Sheikh of Al-Azhar regarding these statements, which he understood as the minds of the minds understood them. Many Europeans can certainly not be resentful of European civilization.
The Sheikh of Al-Azhar, like all those angry at Borrell’s statement, does not deny that Europe is a garden or close to this analogy, but he also knows how the trees of this garden were watered, and at what level of exploitation over the centuries for those outside that garden, which made its trees tall and flat. And good-looking, while the bush is engulfed in the random bushes and forests.
When the revolutions in Europe were talking about “freedom, fraternity and equality,” their fleets were competing to plunder the colonies, and the wars among them revolved around more looting and more impoverishment of those colonies, and European capitals were setting up “human” zoos that brought blacks from the heart of Africa, and presented them to a society Whites are in cages while their children throw bananas and peanuts to these “beings”, and European capitals were and still retain the skulls of those who revolted against occupation and exploitation to achieve for themselves freedom, brotherhood and equality, as criminals and bandits, and European capitals were and still control the currencies of their former colonies and their exports and imports. European secular elites, who are supposed to be neutral between religions, have been and still are rejecting the entry of Muslim-majority countries into the European Union, and they clearly declare that the European Union is a Christian club.
These are all not stories and legends in old heritage books, but rather a recent history and a pictorial reality, which does not mean that the European mind was not produced, but it boosted its production with a wealth that it gained from exploitation that European elites do not deny of the ancient and modern world, which enabled them to build what they built, and then return to present themselves as The Garden of Fraternity, Freedom and Equality.
If the Sheikh of Al-Azhar was dissatisfied with European civilization – and he was the one who studied in Europe – perhaps this was from his conviction, which many Western thinkers share with him, that this civilization denies its principles. The Sheikh of Al-Azhar is a regime that is deviated from its principles that it laid down before it escaped from the wisdom and legacies of the East… And as a cleric, it is natural that he looks at all matters with a moral view.
When the West raised the banner of fraternity, freedom and equality, it did not grant this fraternity and that freedom and equality to the sons of the colonies except after a great struggle and struggle, some of which were legal and public, and some of them were armed. Because his material interests were with these regimes, and then his material interests took precedence over his principles, and when the West was talking about human rights, those rights were horribly violated in Palestine under its official protection and direct support, even when the West tried to teach us to separate politics from sports and raise the banner of sanctions against Every athlete who raises political slogans in support of the Palestinians, did not commit himself to this separation and isolating Russian athletes from all competitions; Because Russia’s political system has violated international law and annexed illegal lands, while there is an entity that has been violating international law every day for dozens of years, and there are multiple UN resolutions condemning it, while European stadiums host its sports teams in blatant moral discrimination, and when the West raised the slogans of freedom of thought, the ruler of the thinkers who dared And think about the myths founding Zionism, and when the West was prosecuting those who mock these myths, it still saw that ridicule the sanctities of Muslims is freedom of opinion, and it is the same West that describes the crimes of extremist Muslims as Islamic terrorism, while not describing the crimes of extremist Christians as Christian terrorism, and did not describe The crimes committed by the Jews in Palestine in the name of God constituted Jewish terrorism.
These are also features of the Western liberal system, which the Sheikh of Al-Azhar – with many others – sees as a system that lacks justice and principle. For everyone, and building policies to serve people everywhere, not to generously grant some a few and increase the suffering of the majority.
The Sheikh of Al-Azhar does not deny the Western civilizational achievement in science and technology, and it cannot be placed in this hasty image among those whom Al-Mahini describes as “discontent with the West.” Instead of “conflict,” and his saying that “the Easterners should look at the West with a new look, in which there is some humility, a lot of good faith, a sense of the nearest neighbor, and a tolerant understanding of the civilization of the West.” And he does not believe that human civilization today, even if its main centers are Western, it has become appropriate to attribute it to the West, for it is a human civilization in which everyone is required to participate, and that its centers and metropolises are distributed to ensure that its fruits reach all with justice, equality and true brotherhood, and not in the way of lying and beautifying.
The Sheikh of Al-Azhar does not wish for the collapse of the Western liberal system as much as he aspires to move towards justice. Like the lack of those who are able to complete it.” The West has all the ingredients for making this model if it abandons its colonial and reformist mind, which Borrell expressed some of its features in his loose statement.
Accordingly, some of the fears of Mamdouh Al-Muhaini and Josep Borrell before him may be correct about the collapse of the Western liberal system, but if this happens, it will not be due to the growth of the jungle, as they say, but because of that view of superiority and superiority, and the attempt to limit the world to a garden whose trees we all know how to water!
* Editor-in-chief of “Voice of Al-Azhar” newspaper.