Top Egyptian Cleric Faces Backlash for Praising Buddhism

Buddhist monk carry colorful lanterns as they celebrate the forthcoming birthday of Buddha at Jogye temple on May 7, 2016 in Seoul, South Korea. Buddha was born approximately 2,560 years ago, and although the exact date is unknown, Buddha's official birthday is celebrated on the full moon in May in …
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty

A top Sunni theologian faced a backlash on social media after he praised Buddhism and described its founder as “one of the most humane characters in history.”

Ahmad Altayeb, the head of Cairo’s eminent Al Azhar Institute, said during a conference in Myanmar that Buddhism is a “compassionate religion.”

Critics were quick to respond that Altayeb condoned discrimination against Muslims in Myanmar, while others said he ignored the actions of some Buddhists.

“[Egyptian President Abdel Fatah] Sisi’s dog,” Dr Ahmad Fathallah said of Altayeb on Twitter.

Mubarak tweeted: “May Allah’s curse be upon you, you are a crook, Allah’s enemy.  Please Allah introduce him to Buddha in hell.”

Neveen was sarcastically polite: “Please tell me, Sir, is there another religion other than Judaism, Christianity and Islam? Allah’s definition of religion applies only to them and said we should abide by it.”

“If that is the case, why don’t you convert to Buddhism and rid us of your disgusting presence?” Ghassan tweeted.

Ismail used a play on words in Arabic: “He isn’t Al Azhar’s sheikh, he’s Al Azhar’s destroyer.”

“Does anyone have any doubt now that the Sheikh is not a Muslim?” Khaled tweeted.

“It’s not him who should be ashamed, it’s the cattle around him that listen to these lies and say nothing,” Desert Man tweeted.