Top Egyptian cleric declares peaceful protests 'religiously permissible'


Almost every Friday opposition groups protest against President Mohamed Morsi. Here an Egyptian protester waves his national flag in Cairo on March 1, 2013.


Gianluigi Guerica

Egypt's top Islamic leader on Wednesday issued a statement in defense of peaceful protests, calling "deviant" those who consider such activity heretical, according to Saudi Arabia's Al Arabiya

Sheik Ahmed el-Tayeb declared that "peaceful opposition to the legitimate leader is religiously permissible and accepted," according to the Associated Press

He also criticized those who think rebelling against a "legitimate" leader are non-believers ("kuffar") or "hypocrites," (an offense that can carry the death penalty), calling that an unacceptable view, said the AP

The sheik is the grand imam of the Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo, considered the forefront of Sunni learning.

His statement came ahead of the opposition's planned anti-government rally on June 30, said the AP

Activists with the "rebel" campaign plan to use the demonstration to call for the Muslim Brotherhood-backed President Mohamed Morsi to step down after a year in power, said Al Arabiya

Morsi was elected after longtime leader Hosni Mubarak was overthrown by popular protest in 2011, causing a sea change in Egyptian politics and society. 

The sheik's statement was published on Al-Azhar's official website, said the AP