By Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani
"CAIRO, Apr 28, 2010 (IPS) - When Ahmed al-Tayeb, the newly-appointed grand sheikh of Egypt's prestigious Al-Azhar religious institution, relinquished his membership in President Hosni Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), it carried significance.
"The government thought it better if the new grand sheikh distanced himself from the ruling party so it could not be accused of mixing religion with politics - which is exactly what it accuses the Muslim Brotherhood [opposition group] of doing," Abdel Menaam Mounib, Islamic affairs expert at the independent daily Al-Dustour, told IPS.
The resignation came despite earlier statements by al-Tayeb in which he insisted that there was "no contradiction whatsoever" between his new position and membership in the NDP....
In an Apr. 15 statement, Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie -- himself elected by the brotherhood's upper echelons only three months ago -- appeared no less conciliatory towards al-Tayeb.
"We reject anything that pushes us to confrontation with Al-Azhar or the grand sheikh. Our goals are the same: to spread a moderate interpretation of Islam in society and the world," Badie declared. "We might differ with the grand sheikh of Al-Azhar on certain issues, but there is no conflict.""