After three months in the position, the president of Al-Azhar University, Ahmed Hosny, was sacked on Friday after he described TV host Islam Al-Beheiry as an “apostate”.
Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayeb sacked Hosny and temporarily assigned the dean of the Faculty of Arabic Language to the position until another president for the university is chosen.
On Wednesday, during a TV programme on privately-owned Al Kahera Wal Nas channel, Hosny described prominent TV host Islam Al-Beheiry as an “apostate”.
Islam Al-Beheiry is a vocal critic of the Islamic scholarly heritage, as well as prominent Muslim clerics, such as Al-Bukhari, Muslim, and Ibn Taimiya. In several incidents, he accused Al-Azhar of promoting extremism through its scholarly curriculums.
However, the TV statements went viral in the press, leading Hosny on Thursday to issue a statement apologising for describing Al-Beheiry as an apostate, describing it as an act that “was incorrect and contradicts Al-Azhar’s teachings.”
“This does not reflect or represent Al-Azhar’s method,” Hosny added.
Several public figures and media personnel have previously accused Al-Azhar of igniting radical thought through its teachings. The Islamic institution defended itself, claiming that it is the centre of moderate thinking in the Islamic world.
In several instances, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar had refused to issue a fatwa—a religious edict—apostatising the militant group called the Islamic State. The latest refusal was after the attack on two churches during Palm Sunday celebrations in April, which claimed the lives of 45 people and injured dozens.