Tourism workers and activists in Luxor protest a newly appointed Islamist governor and block his office Tuesday June 18, 2013. Adel el-Khayat was named to the provincial governor's post Sunday by President Mohammed Morsi, causing outrage because of his links to Gamaa Islamiya, which waged an armed insurgency against the state starting in 1992 and attacked police, Coptic Christians and tourists. Tourism is the lifeblood of Luxor but it has been hit hard by the downturn in foreign visitors since the Arab Spring unleashed political turmoil since 2011. Signs in Arabic read, "The plot you are hatching, we will undo" and "leave terrorist." (AP Photo/Ibrahim Zayed)
CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's top Muslim cleric says peaceful protests against the president are permitted, dismissing declarations by Islamist hard-liners that those behind protests planned for June 30 are heretics.
Sheik Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al-Azhar, said in a statement Wednesday that "peaceful opposition to the legitimate leader is religiously permissible and accepted."
He said the view expressed by hard-liners that those who rebel against a "legitimate" leader are "kuffar," or non-believers, and "hypocrites" — and thus punishable by death — is a "deviant" view.
Al-Azhar is the Sunni Muslim world's foremost seat of learning and the views of its imam are taken seriously.
Opponents of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi are planning massive protests on June 30 calling on him to step down.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.