Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayeb said on Sunday that the existence of sectarian tension in Egypt amounted to nothing more than "rumors."
"Foreign influences are behind the current tensions between Coptic Christians and Muslims," said the leader of Al-Azhar, considered the most authorative religious institution in the Sunni-Muslim world. "Only the naive from either side are driven by these influences."
Al-Tayeb made the statements at a meeting with Coptic Pope Shenouda III, who came to congratulate al-Tayeb at Al-Azhar headquarters on the occasion of the Islamic Eid al-Adha holiday, which will begin on Tuesday.
"There's a strong relationship, founded on mutual respect, between Al-Azhar and the Cathedral [the papal headquarters in Cairo's Al-Abbasia district]," said al-Tayeb. "The good relations between Muslims and Christians will not be affected by foreign influences."