Al-Azhar Al-Sharif renewed its call to the Indian authorities to reconsider the amendments made to the nationality law, while the Egyptian Foreign Ministry has not issued any comment on the growing humanitarian crisis in India because of that law. The new law provides for the granting of citizenship to immigrants from neighbouring countries including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, provided they are non-Muslims. This condition is considered by international human rights organisations and Muslim activists as religious discrimination. In its statement, Al-Azhar expressed its deep concern about the escalations that India is witnessing due to the new nationality law. On 19 December Al-Azhar previously warned about the repercussions of excluding Muslims from the law compared to their brothers from other religions. Al-Azhar stressed that this religious distinction is surprising to India, which was an example of religious pluralism and acceptance of the other. Al-Azhar reiterated its call for the values of citizenship to prevail and the inclusion of all, and to reject all forms of religious and racial discrimination, expressing confidence in the ability to reach satisfactory solutions if the culture of dialogue and the principles of coexistence prevail. The statement stressed that Muslims in India represent the second largest population of Muslims around the world, and have been fundamental to India’s development in various fields over the ages.

Al-Azhar offered its sincere condolences to the families of the victims, wishing the speedy recovery of all the injured, and that peace and goodwill prevail whatever his affiliation. Because of the aforementioned law, India is witnessing bloody protests, and sectarian attacks, including the attack on some mosques and religious shrines, due to the protests that erupted in the country against the background of the renewed protests against the citizenship law that denied Muslim refugees citizenship. Indian authorities announced that the death toll from the violent sectarian protests in the northeastern areas of the capital, New Delhi, had risen to 46 and more than 200 wounded, due to the controversial nationality law. Violence started in India last December, due to the new nationality law introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which paves the way for people of six religions from neighbouring countries to obtain Indian citizenship except for Muslims. While protesters accused the government of prejudice against India’s 200 million Muslims, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressed that the new law does not affect any Indian citizen of any religion, and there is no reason for anyone to be concerned. The United States condemned the Indian citizenship law, and the United Nations considered that the law inherently contained religious discrimination. Nevertheless, Egypt and most Islamic countries have remained silent about the law, and no steps were taken to express their dissatisfaction with the clear religious discrimination in this law.

Diplomats consider Al-Azhar to have surpassed the Egyptian foreign ministry, and played a significant global role in a number of important issues, such as the Rohingya issue or the Indian nationality law. On the other hand, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry appears confused or indifferent to humanitarian issues in the world. Diplomatic sources told Egypt Watch that the silence of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on a number of humanitarian issues is at the request of higher departments in the Egyptian system. He explained that this request may be due to the bloody history of the regime and its repeated violations of human rights, therefore the regime does not want to anger any other country, or to appear contradictory when he criticises actions he himself practices. A source in Al-Azhar media circles told Egypt Watch that Al-Azhar’s statements have not won the admiration of the Egyptian regime, because the Egyptian regime seeks to limit the role of Al-Azhar. Multiple circles in the Egyptian system indicate that the relationship between General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Sheikh al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayyib is not good and that there are undeclared tensions between them. Sometimes Al-Azhar’s positions increase the tensions between the two sides. While al-Tayyib considers that these statements are natural, the Egyptian regime sees them as an embarrassment. Opponents accuse the Egyptian regime of having dwarfed the foreign role of the Egyptian regime in an unprecedented manner and led to the decline of Egypt’s role regionally and internationally.