Egyptian author Sayyid Al-Qemany criticized the Egyptian regime's calls for reform in the religious discourse, saying that they were directed abroad and were not intended for internal consumption. Religion "still constitutes the main source for the thinking of the regular citizen," he said. Al-Azhar is "the source that exports terrorism to the world," according to Al-Qemany, "the enemy of all that is modern." Talking about the stagnation that occurred in Islamic heritage over the past millennium, he asked: "Why should anybody conspire against us? They can just leave us to our own devices. Our heritage is the best way to bring defeat, backwardness, and regression upon us." The interview with Al-Qemany aired on Al-Hurra TV on January 24.
Sayyid Al-Qemany: "[Islamic] heritage froze a thousand years ago, in the fourth century of Islam. Since then it has not moved forward, has not evolved, and has not renewed itself. [Religion] still constitutes the main source for the thinking of the regular citizen. Regular citizens do not turn to the natural sciences or to mathematics in order to resolve their problems. They turn to religion. Just imagine a religion that a thousand years ago stopped adding anything, stopped changing, stopped renewing itself.
"Therefore, the way Muslims think is at complete odds with our times, because they think according to the logic of a thousand years ago. An entire millennium is no trivial matter. Mankind has progressed and the sciences have progressed in a way that no one could have anticipated. The Muslims find it impossible to grasp and understand this great progress."
Host: "But the [Egyptian] regime has called for reforming the religious discourse. President Al-Sisi has talked more than once about the need for reforming the religious discourse and adjusting it to our times, so that there will not be hostility to others, and so on. The state is now encouraging this."
Sayyid Al-Qemany: "That’s great!"
Host: "So where's the problem? How come there is no progress in this?"
Sayyid Al-Qemany: "It is simply because these statements are directed abroad. These statements are not meant for internal consumption. The proof is that when some people believed [Al-Sisi] and began acting accordingly – people like Muhammed 'Abdallah Nasr and Islam Behery – they found themselves in prison.
"Where is this reform in religious discourse that President Al-Sisi talks about? The president made these statements in order to improve our image in the world, but at home, he behaves like a sultan, and the clerics are his allies.
"Al-Azhar refused to accuse ISIS of heresy for a very simple reason. If it had done so, ISIS would have said: 'Everything we know we learned from you.'
"I did not say that [Al-Azhar] is a terrorist organization. As a matter of fact, I see it as the source that exports terrorism to the world. It is the source of terrorism. Al-Azhar is the enemy of all that is modern.
"We are backward peoples, and anybody who says otherwise is either playing dumb or is crazy or stupid. We are among the most backward countries in the world. Why should anybody conspire against us? They can just leave us to our own devices. Our heritage is the best way to bring defeat, backwardness, and regression upon us."