"The recent ghastly strife and anger over the Danish cartoons shows the danger that comes of our failure to listen and to respect what is precious and sacred to others," Prince Charles told an audience of some 3,000 people at Al-Azhar University, Islam's most ancient seat of learning.
"I think of the experience of Muslims living in Europe who are subject to varied and continuous expressions of Islamophobia."
He asserted: "The true mark of a civilized society is the respect it pays to minorities and to strangers."
Twelve cartoons, including one showing the Prophet with a bomb-shaped turban, were first published by Danish daily Jyllands-Posten in September and reprinted by European newspapers on claims of freedom of expression.
The drawings, considered blasphemous under Islam, have triggered massive and sometimes violent demonstrations across the Muslim world.
Prince Charles paid tribute to late prominent British Muslim scholar Zaki Badawi, an Egyptian-born graduate of Al-Azhar who died last January, calling him "a man of wisdom and learning."
To the applaud of the audience, the prince expressed his pride and pleasure at the presence of Badawi's widow in the first row, listening to his speech.
Unity Through Diversity
The Prince of Wales also reserved harsh criticism for some Muslim countries over the treatment of non-Muslims.
"I think of Christians living within some Muslim nations, who find themselves fettered by harsh and degrading restrictions, or subject to abuse by some of their fellow citizens," he said.
Prince Charles underlined the need for the followers of all three Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – to speak with courage of the enduring values of faith and to "affirm them again and again to a world troubled by change and dissension."
He expressed his conviction that "our beliefs and values call out for peace, not conflict."
Prince Charles called on wise men and women to respect the religion of others.
"I believe with all my heart that responsible men and women must work to restore mutual respect between faiths, and that we should do all we can to overcome the distrust that poisons so many people's lives," he said.
"We may have a human weakness to criticize and to compete with each other. But what we have in common, as people of faith, calls upon us beyond this towards mutual respect and understanding."
The Prince of Wales emphasized the message he had championed 12 years ago in his landmark speech on "Islam and the West" in the University of Oxford.
"History shows that giant leaps of creativity in knowledge – in science, literature and the arts – have occurred when the members of the Abrahamic family have worked together."
Quoting the Qur'anic verse "O Mankind! We created you from a single pair of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other" (Al-Hujurat 49: 13), Charles highlighted the fact that differences do not erase chances for unity.
Concluding, he said he believed "we have a duty to speak for the principles of our religious faiths", highlighting the need to "protect our traditions – Muslim, Christian and Jewish – acknowledging and celebrating our rich diversity…"
After his speech, entitled "Unity of Faith", Prince Charles was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Al-Azhar.
In a brief speech, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Mohamed Sayed Tantawi hailed the significant role played by Charles in the field of inter-faith dialogue.
Ahmed Al-Tayeb, president of Al-Azhar University, then announced the decision to grant the Prince of Wales the Honorary Doctorate from the prestigious university.
Some Al-Azhar scholars had criticized the decision to bestow the degree on the prince, citing he was non-Muslim and not a even a scholar.
In an indirect response to the argument, Sheikh Tantawi repeatedly cited from Prince Charles Oxford speech and described the prince's ideas as the fruit of "serious study."
When the doctorate — in a maroon leather folder — was handed over, there was a surge of applause from the audience.
A visibly moved Charles bowed slightly to the crowd and waved in thanks.
Among the dignitaries attending were Usama El-Baz, political advisor for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak; Esmat Abdul-Magid, former Arab League Secretary General; Egypt's Minister of Waqfs Hamdy Zaqzouq; Egypt's Mufti Ali Goamaa; representatives of the Egyptian Church, in addition to a host of other politicians and Al-Azhar heavyweights.
Before the speech, Sheikh Tantawi accompanied Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, who donned a headscarf, in a tour of the oldest functioning mosque in Egypt, Al-Azhar Mosque.
The royal couple, currently on a 5-day visit to Egypt, were briefed on the great role of Al-Azhar and its engagement in Islamic studies.
On Wednesday, March 21, the royal guests are to open the British University of Cairo, where Egypt's First Lady is to deliver a speech marking the occasion.
Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16