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Ethiopia’s Top Islamic cleric laments ‘untruthful claims’ by Egyptian Al-Azhar Sheikh over GERD

The head of the Ethiopian Federal Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs Sheikh Omar Idris has condemned as ‘untruthful’ comments made by the Egyptian Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar Al Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb during speech to mark the United Nations’ World Environment Day in which he stressed that no one in the world should be denied of right to use water.
The top Egyptian cleric did not mention Ethiopia by name and said those who deny others of water “are unjust aggressors who ought to be internationally and regionally stopped to protect the people’s rights and against their perversion and corruption of the earth.”

Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia are on loggerheads over the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) as the East African country has threatened on several occasion to fill the dam with or without a binding agreement with downstream countries, something that has attracted international attentions with many countries urging Ethiopia to agree with Egypt and Sudan first on the filling of the dam.

Commenting on possible use of force to resolve the dispute, Al-Tayeb said the rules of “fighting enemies” in Islam “forbid us to kill children, women and young boys in the enemy’s army, just as it is forbidden to kill monks in their monasteries and peasants in their fields. It is also prohibited to demolish buildings in the enemy’s country.”

In a press conference he called purposely to respond to Al Tayeb’s comments in Addis Ababa on Thursday, Sheikh Omar said he was “here to dispute the untruthful claims” made by Al Tayeb and said “the waters of the Nile stem from the heart of Ethiopia”, saying that “Ethiopia has the right to benefit from its natural resources without causing significant harm to the Nile Basin countries in general.”

Omar further added “that Ethiopia did not prevent Egypt and Sudan from benefiting from the Nile waters,” despite those countries being downstream countries, adding that “God helps the people of truth every time and place.”

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