In 2009, Barack Obama spoke at Al-Azhar and declared, “As a student of history, I also know civilization’s debt to Islam. It was Islam — at places like Al-Azhar — that carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment.”
In 2012, Dr. Abdul Hamid al-Atrash, the head of the Fatwa Committee of Al Azhar in Egypt, which issues rulings of Islamic law, declared that Jews could be banned from going to pray in a synagogue.
Al-Atrash says that as long as Muslims cannot travel to Jerusalem while it is in Jewish hands, then Muslims have the right to bar Jews from visiting their own holy places, under the Islamic concept of “reciprocity.” Therefore, he says, Egyptian authorities have the right to ban Jews from going to the Alexandria synagogue on Rosh Hashanah.
Muslims can visit Jerusalem. They choose not to because it’s full of Jews. And since they are too bigoted to visit Jerusalem, then Jews shouldn’t be able to pray in Egypt either.
For all intents and purposes this means that Judaism is on the verge of being outlawed in Egypt. It can still be practiced privately, but not communally, and Judaism is a communal religion.
At Al-Azhar, Obama said, “Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance. We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition. I saw it firsthand as a child in Indonesia, where devout Christians worshiped freely in an overwhelmingly Muslim country. That is the spirit we need today. People in every country should be free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind and the heart and the soul. This tolerance is essential for religion to thrive, but it’s being challenged in many different ways.”
And we keep seeing that tolerance over and over again. At Al Azhar, Obama boasted of standing up for the right of Muslim women to wear the Hijab. Will be similarly stand up for the right of Jews to pray in a synagogue in Egypt?