April 11, 2024 Special Dispatch No. 11269

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Praises Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, Who Glorified Hamas' October 7 Massacre: 'His Permanent Engagement To Foster Peace And Solidarity Must Be An Example To All'

April 11, 2024
Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 11269

As part of a Middle East tour on the occasion of Ramadan, on March 24, 2024 UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres met in Cairo with the Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, the supreme religious authority in the Sunni Muslim world. In a post on his X account after the meeting, Guterres praised Al-Tayyeb, saying that "his permanent engagement to foster peace and solidarity must be an example to all." This is despite the unreserved support expressed by Al-Tayyeb and by the institute he heads for the Hamas terror organization. Immediately after Hamas' October 7 terror attack, in which about 1,200 people were killed and 240 were taken hostage, Al-Azhar issued a statement declaring that the institution "salutes with utmost pride the resistance efforts of the proud Palestinian people."[1] In another statement several days later, Al-Azhar again saluted the steadfastness of the Palestinians in Gaza in their struggle against Israel and their willingness to be martyred on its soil.[2] Moreover, since October 7 other Al-Azhar officials have frequently incited against Israel and the U.S. while using virulently antisemitic rhetoric, calling the Jews "the descendants of apes and pigs," "killers of the prophets" and "enemies of humanity" and hoping for their demise. The dean of the Islamic and Arabic Studies faculty at Al-Azhar University, Muhammad Omar Al-Qady, blasted the U.S., calling it "the greatest Satan" and a "global mafia."

It should be noted that Ahmad Al-Tayyeb is known for his extremist positions and support for terrorism and terrorist organizations, and refuses to promote moderate religious discourse as part of the fight against extremism. This is despite his frequent participation in interfaith dialogue and although he signed the Document on Human Fraternity along with Pope Francis in 2019. In the past he stated, for example, that martyrdom attacks by Palestinians against Israeli targets are legitimate acts of self-defense, because, as long as Israel, the "barbaric enemy," continues to attack the Palestinians with Western and American backing, the Palestinians are entitled "to blow up whatever they want." He also said that there was no proof that Osama bin Laden was responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks and hinted that Israelis may have been behind them. On another occasion he claimed that fundamentalist terrorist groups are the product of imperialism in the service of global Zionism. Moreover, Al-Azhar under Al-Tayyeb refuses to accuse Muslim terrorists of heresy – which would have deprived them of religious justification for their violent actions – thus undermining the efforts of Egyptian President 'Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sisi to promote moderate religious discourse.[3]

Al-Tayyeb awards Guterres the Shield of Muslim Council of Elders (Image:, March 24, 2024)

This report reviews the recent meeting between UN Secretary-General Guterres and Al-Azhar Sheikh Al-Tayyeb and the positions expressed by the latter and by the institution he heads in praise of Hamas and against Israel since October 7.

Guterres About Al-Tayyeb: His Commitment To Peace Is An Example To All

As stated, on March 24, 2024, despite the support expressed by Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayyeb and by other officials in his institution for Hamas and for its October 7 massacre, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres chose to visit Al-Tayyeb in his Cairo headquarters, along with UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini and UN Resident Coordinator in Egypt Elena Panova. According to Al-Azhar, during the meeting Guterres said to Al-Tayyeb: "I am honored to meet you. We appreciate your persistent effort to foster peace and solidarity; you are an example to all. I wish to convey our appreciation for Al-Azhar, which is as a strong voice defending and supporting the Palestinian people."[4]

Al-Tayeb welcomes Guterres (Image:, March 24, 2024)

Al-Tayyeb, for his part, praised Guterres' position on the war in Gaza and warned that, if the present situation in Gaza persists, " we will witness an unprecedented spread of crime, hatred, destruction, wars and violence across the world, which will impact the West and the U.S." He also warned that the Gaza war threatens "the efforts of rapprochement between East and West."

During the meeting Al-Tayyeb presented Guterres with a shield from the Muslim Council of Elders as a token of appreciation from Al-Azhar for his courageous stance on the conflict in Gaza and efforts to combat Islamophobia. The Council of Elders, headed by Al-Tayyeb himself, comprises Islamic scholars and was founded by the UAE to promote tolerance and dialogue with the West.

Following the meeting, Guterres posted a picture of it on his X account and wrote: " A major moment of my Ramadan solidarity mission was being received by the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar @alimamaltayeb in Cairo. His permanent engagement to foster peace & solidarity must be an example to all - now more than ever."[5]

Guterres' tweet

Al-Azhar "Salutes" Hamas' October 7 Terror Attack

As stated, since October 7, Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmad Al-Tayyeb and other members of this institution have praised the attack, saluting the attack and the Palestinians' "courage" and "steadfastness," and glorifying the many who have "attained martyrdom."

On October 7 itself, Al-Azhar issued a statement thanking the Palestinians for "giving hope" to the Muslims. Among other things, the statement said: "Al-Azhar conveys its heartfelt condolences for our martyrs, the martyrs of the Islamic and Arab nation, the martyrs of proud Palestine, who attained martyrdom for the sake of defending their homeland, their nation and their cause, [which is also] our cause and the cause of all honorable people in the world: the Palestinian cause. Al-Azhar prays to Allah to grant the Palestinian people steadfastness in the face of the Zionist tyranny and terror. 

"Al-Azhar salutes with utmost pride the resistance efforts of the proud Palestinian people, and demands that the civilized world and the international community examine in a spirit of rationality and wisdom the Zionist occupation of Palestine, which is the most prolonged occupation in modern history. This occupation is a stain on the forehead of humanity and the international community, which practices discrimination and knows only a double standard when it comes to the Palestinian issue.

"Al-Azhar supports the hearts and hands of the proud Palestinian people who have imbued us with spirit and faith and restored us to life, after we thought that would never happen, and prays that Allah grant them steadfastness, peace of mind and strength. It stresses that every occupation disappears sooner or later, whether this takes a long time or a short time."[6]

On October 11, 2023, Al-Azhar issued another statement saluting the Palestinians in Gaza for their steadfastness, saying: "You are better off dying on your land as knights, heroes and martyrs than abandoning it and leaving it to the usurping imperialists. Know that abandoning your land means the death of your and our [Palestinian] cause and its elimination forever."[7] 

Al-Azhar Fatwa: " The Occupying Entity Will Perish And The Lives Of The Martyrs Will Be Longer Than Those Of Their Murderers"

Following its unreserved support for Hamas' October 7 terror attack, Al-Azhar and its members issued inciting statements in which they hoped for Israel's demise, called the U.S. "the greatest Satan" and used virulently antisemitic rhetoric.[8] For example, On October 18, 2023, Al-Azhar's "Global Center for Online Fatwas" posted a fatwa (religious ruling) on its Facebook page stating that "the term 'civilians' does not apply to the Zionist settlers of the occupied land," which can be read as religious permission to target them. The fatwa also encouraged Israeli Arabs to join the struggle against Israel, calling it "a cancer in the heart of the Islamic Arab nation," destined to perish. The fatwa said:  "…In their steadfastness, resistance and persistent adherence to their land, the Palestinian people continue to present a model of heroism, despite the danger of the arbitrary Zionist bombardment... The world deliberately ignores the fact that the occupying Zionist entity is a cancer in the heart of the Islamic and Arab nation. According to international conventions and laws, occupying forces have no right to the land, the resources and the holy sites [they are occupying], and their aggression must necessarily be met with resistance against their usurpation, oppression and tyranny.

"The current resistance activity is a new link in the ongoing chain of the Palestinian people's struggle against the terrorism of the occupying and usurping Zionist entity…

"The Palestinian interior [i.e., the Israeli Arabs] must join ranks against this despicable occupier and cleave to their just [Palestinian] cause, without fearing the occupation's vicious means and ways… which are destined to disappear…

"Oh proud Palestine and our blessed Jerusalem… in times of distress, Allah will provide succor. The occupying entity will perish and the lives of the martyrs will be longer than those of their murderers. Allah's promise is truth and His victory will come…"[9]

Faculty Dean At Al-Al-Azhar University: May Allah Bring Perdition Upon The "Cursed," "Treacherous" Jews, "The Descendants Of Apes And Pigs"

Addressing Hamas' October 7 attack in a series of posts on his personal Facebook account, Muhammad Omar Al-Qady, dean of the Faculty for Islamic and Arabic Studies at Al-Azhar University, praised Hamas' attack and wished for the demise of the Jews, whom he called "the descendants of apes and pigs." He wrote: "[When I say] resistance I mean the jihad fighters in Palestine, who defend their honor and land, those who fight against their enemy and ours, namely the Jews… I ask Allah to strengthen His soldiers and His camp and grant our brothers in Gaza, in Palestine and in the rest of the Muslim countries victory over their enemy and ours, the enemy of Allah and humanity, the cursed descendants of apes and pigs [i.e., the Jews]."[10]

In another post Al-Qady wrote: "Allah, bring perdition upon the cursed and treacherous [Jews], the murderers of prophets, of rulers and of decent people, and on whoever helped them and agreed to their deeds…"[11]

In a post headed "The Greatest Satan!," Al-Qady slammed the U.S., writing: "It is naïve and foolish to expect victory or justice from [the U.S.] – a state whose forefathers were criminals, murderers, thieves, rapists, robbers and villains, riffraff from all over the world that Columbus released from the prisons of Europe – or from the mother of that Satan, [namely] Britain. [Columbus] brought them to the American continent and they murdered its people and exterminated its owners, the Indians. Then they established a state that is more like a gang of criminals or a global mafia, which became the thug of the world and the greatest Satan, and the countries of Europe became its gangs… After World War II this country reached the peak of fabrication and usurpation. Today they have increased their tyranny [even more], while exploiting the fear of other countries, which follow them like sheep. We saw their drunken president, Biden, arrogantly and wantonly extending absolute support to the usurping and immoral state of the descendants of apes and pigs [i.e., the Jews], and giving them permission to complete the extermination of the wretched people of Gaza…"[12]

Other Extremist Positions Expressed By Ahmad Al-Tayyeb

Al-Tayyeb's public statements on various topics over the years, many of which were translated and published by MEMRI, included additional extremist pronouncements. For example, he said that there is no proof that Osama bin Laden was responsible for the 9/11 attacks and hinted that Israelis may have been involved in them. He said further that the Muslims had initially condemned the attacks, but since then their feelings have changed, and the U.S. has exploited them to harm Muslims. [13] On another occasion he said that the fundamentalist terror movements are a new product created by imperialism in the service of global Zionism.[14]

He has said that "martyrdom operations, in which the Palestinians blow up targets of the Israeli occupation, are actions that are 100% permitted according to Islamic religious law," that suicide attacks by Palestinians against Israeli targets are a legitimate form of self-defense, and that as long as "the barbaric enemy" Israel continues to attack them with Western and American backing, the Palestinians are entitled "to blow up whatever they want."[15] He also stated that there is Islamophobia in the West and that it is a result of "modern colonialism" and a desire to take over the Muslims' resources.[16]

Al-Tayyeb, who today often participates in interfaith dialogue, and even meets with Pope Francis, spoke against such dialogue in the past, called Christians "infidels,"[17] and stated that a non-Muslim cannot head a Muslim country because this contravenes the religion, common sense, and democracy.[18] He has also declared that unrepentant apostates should be killed.[19]

In addition to calling sexual freedom and homosexuality in the West diseases,[20] he has also condemned what he called the West's efforts to force Muslims to accept the "perversion" of homosexuality in the guise of promoting human rights, and added that the West will be punished like Sodom and Gomorrah for allowing same-sex marriage. On wife-beating in Islam, he said that it applies only to "rebellious women" and that "it's not really beating, it's more like punching... It's like shoving or poking her."[21]


[2], October 11, 2023.

[4], March 24, 2024.

[5], March 24, 2024.

[7], October 11, 2023.

[10], October 17, 2023.

[11], October 18, 2023.

[12], October 18, 2023.

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