Egypt’s feuding politicians renounced violence yesterday after being summoned by the country’s most influential Muslim scholar to talks in an effort to end the deadliest unrest since president Mohamed Morsi took power.
It remains to be seen whether the pledge to end confrontation will halt a week of bloodshed on the streets. Opposition groups have not cancelled demonstrations scheduled for today. But participants at the meeting, including leaders of Mr Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood and its secular rivals, described their joint statement as a major step towards ending a conflict that has made the most populous Arab state seem all but ungovernable two years after an uprising toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
The meeting was convened by Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb, head of the al-Azhar university and mosque, one of the few institutions still seen as neutral in a society that has become increasingly polarised.
He said a national dialogue, “in which all elements of Egyptian society participate, without any exclusion, is the only tool to resolve any problems or differences”.
He added: “Political work has nothing to do with violence or sabotage … the fate of our nation depends on respect for the rule of law.”
Participants signed a pledge to renounce violence and agreed to set up a committee of politicians from rival groups to work out a programme for further talks.