Egypt's top imam asks for mercy for Mubarak

Arab World Materials 21 May 2011 22:42 (UTC +04:00)

Top Egyptian Muslim leader Ahmed el-Tayeb has appealed in an interview with a German newspaper for mercy for Hosny Mubarak, arguing that the ousted former president is old and ill, dpa reported.

The grand sheikh of the Al-Azhar institution in Cairo is quoted in by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, which is to appear Sunday, as saying that that the 83-year-old Mubarak had worked very hard for his country over a long period.

"One ought to place mercy above the law," el-Tayeb said, calling Mubarak and "an old, ill man." The newspaper released a German summary of the interview to other media on Saturday.

El-Tayeb describes Mubarak's ouster in February "the expression of the will of the Egyptian people."

"Al-Azhar supports the will of the people for change," he adds. The institution is regarded as the most eminent centre for Sunni Islam teaching worldwide.

El-Tayeb, who was appointed by Mubarak about a year ago, was accused of supporting the Mubarak regime after urging protesters to go home earlier this year.

He is the highest public figure currently seeking amnesty for the ex-president.

Mubarak is under house arrest at a hospital in Sharm el-Sheikh. Prosecutors are investigating him on suspicion of corruption.