Astana “Kazakhstan” – The Palace of Peace and Reconciliation in Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana, was centre-stage as the Muslim Council of Elders, under the chairmanship of His Eminence Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar announced the inauguration of the Council’s Central Asian branch in the presence of various official and prominent religious leaders.
Judge Mohamed Abdelsalam, the Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Elders said that the Council’s Central Asian branch aims to bridge the gap in dialogue and communication between diverse cultures and religions which aligns with the Council’s broader efforts to activate channels of communication with Muslims worldwide. He extended gratitude to Kazakhstan, led by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, for the support received in establishing the branch and also praised the Kazakh nation for its role in promoting dialogue, tolerance, and coexistence.
The Chairman of the Kazakh Senate, “The Muslim Council of Elders actively strives to strengthen the interreligious dialogue. It is a great honor for us to open in Kazakhstan a representative office of this authoritative organization in the region. Values such as tolerance, peaceful coexistence and mutual support, promoted by the Council, are also a priority for Kazakhstan. The Congress Secretariat will actively engage with the Council to further foster interfaith and intercivilizational dialogue globally.”
For his part, Dr. Nazir Ayad, Secretary-General of the Islamic Research Academy at Al-Azhar, who attended on behalf of His Eminence the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and Chairman of the Muslim Council of Elders, emphasized that the inauguration of the Council’s Central Asian branch reflects the significant efforts led by the Muslim Council of Elders. He further highlighted that the Central Asian region, with its rich history, diverse heritage, and cultural legacy, has presented the Islamic world with many leading scholars whose intellectual, cultural, and religious influence remains profound to this very day.
The ceremony was attended by various officials, foreign ambassadors and religious figures, as well as representatives from all major religious institutions that focus on interfaith and intercultural dialogue. Among the ambassadors were H.E. Dr. Mohammed Saeed Mohammed Al Ariqi, the UAE Ambassador to Kazakhstan, H.E. Manal Yehia El-Shenawy, the Egyptian Ambassador, Msgr. George Panamthundil, the Apostolic Nuncio, along with Her Excellency Afra Al Sabri, the General Director of the Ministry of Tolerance and Coexistence in the UAE, and His Eminence Allahshukur Pashazadeh, the spiritual leader of Muslims in Azerbaijan and the Caucasus and member of the Muslim Council of Elders.