Egypt's President calls for a 'religious revolution'

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi spoke out against Islamic extremism on New Year's Day, which coincided with the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad.

Story highlights

  • President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi speaks to celebrate the birthday of the Prophet Muḥammad
  • "We need a revolution of the self, a revolution of consciousness," he says

(CNN)Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has called for a "religious revolution," asking Muslim leaders to help in the fight against extremism.

In a speech celebrating the birthday of the Prophet Muḥammad, which coincided with New Year's Day, he said they had no time to lose.
    "I say and repeat, again, that we are in need of a religious revolution. You imams are responsible before Allah. The entire world is waiting on you. The entire world is waiting for your word ... because the Islamic world is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost. And it is being lost by our own hands," el-Sisi said.
    "We need a revolution of the self, a revolution of consciousness and ethics to rebuild the Egyptian person -- a person that our country will need in the near future," the President said.
    El-Sisi, himself a pious man, was elected in May after leaving the military to run for the office.
    A former defense minister, he led the ouster of Mohamed Morsy -- the Islamist who was Egypt's first democratically elected President -- and has long positioned himself as a more secular option, and defender against extremist views.
    "It's inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire Islamic world to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world. Impossible that this thinking -- and I am not saying the religion -- I am saying this thinking," el-Sisi said.
    He continued: "This is antagonizing the entire world. It's antagonizing the entire world! Does this mean that 1.6 billion people (Muslims) should want to kill the rest of the world's inhabitants