CAIRO : Scholar's at Al Azhar, have denounced remarks by French President Emmanuel Macron on ''Islamist separatism'' as ''racist'' and ''hate speech''.

Macron on Friday unveiled plans to defend France's secular values against ''radical Islam'', describing Islam as ''a religion of crisis'' worldwide.

''He made false accusations against Islam, that have nothing to do with the true essence of this religion,'' AL Azher's Islamic Academy, Egypt's prestigious Islamic Institution, said in a statement late last Saturday.

Al-Azher is one of the world's leading seats of learning and Egypt's highest religious institution.

''Such racist statements will inflame the feelings of two billion Muslim followers'' around the world, and block the path to constructive dialogue, the statement added.

Al-Azhar said making ''false accusations about Islam or other religions, such separatism and isolatinism'' went against the actual ''reality of what these religions call for''. It also condemned those who exploit or employ ''religious texts to achieve unsavoury purposes.''

Macron's address came 18 months ahead of presidential elections where he is set to face challenges from the right, as public concerns grows over security in France.

On Thursday, Azhar's Grand Imam Ahmed ai-Tayeb voiced ''immense anger'' at the use by some Western officials of the term ''Islamist terrorism'', without heeding its ramifications.

He said in a tweet that such terms constitute ''an insult'' to the religion and its followers, and warned against their use by officials, public figures and intellectuals.


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