Following are excerpts from an interview with Sheik of Al-Azhar Ahmad Al-Tayeb, which aired on Channel 1, Egyptian TV on October 25, 2013:
Ahmad Al-Tayeb: A verse in the Koran explains the Muslims' relations with the Jews and the polytheists. The second part of the verse describes the Muslims' relations with the Christians, and the third part of the verse explains why the Christians are the closest and most friendly to the Muslims.
This is an historical perspective, which has not changed to this day. See how we suffer today from global Zionism and Judaism, whereas our peaceful coexistence with the Christians has withstood the test of history. Since the inception of Islam 1,400 years ago, we have been suffering from Jewish and Zionist interference in Muslim affairs. This is a cause of great distress for the Muslims.
The Koran said it and history has proven it: "You shall find the strongest among men in enmity to the believers to be the Jews and the polytheists." This is the first part. The second part is: "You shall find the closest in love to the believers to be those who say: 'We are Christians'." The third part explains why the Christians are "the closest in love to the believers," while the Jews and the polytheists are the exact opposite.
[The Christians] are humble and are not arrogant.
Interviewer: They are not condescending, whereas the Jews say they are the Chosen People.
Ahmad Al-Tayeb: Right, they do not say that they are the Chosen People... That is why the Jewish religion is closed to others. They have no proselytism. They consider themselves to be the best creation, the Chosen People.
Interviewer: They consider everybody else to be inferior to them...
Ahmad Al-Tayeb: Extremely inferior. They even have very peculiar laws. For instance, they are allowed to practice usury with non-Jews. Some things are not allowed among Jews, but are allowed between Jews and non-Jews. They practice a terrible hierarchy, and they are not ashamed to admit it, because it is written in the Torah – with regard to killing, enslavement, and so on.
Therefore, they have generated a problem not only in their relations with the Muslims, but in their relations with all other people as well, and history has been clear on this.
Interviewer: There is even great enmity between them and the Christians.
Ahmad Al-Tayeb: Of course. These practices and beliefs have made people, even non-Muslims, hate them.