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CAIRO – Egypt’s state news agency says a moderate, Western-educated Islamic scholar has been named the country’s new top cleric.
The Middle East News Agency said Friday that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak appointed Ahmed el-Tayeb the new grand sheik of Cairo’s Al-Azhar, the pre-eminent theological institute of Sunni Islam, the faith’s majority sect.
He takes over from Sheik Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, who died of a heart attack March 10.
El-Tayeb is the current head of Al-Azhar University in Cairo. The French-educated cleric is known to be a moderate Muslim who has encouraged dialogue with Western countries and criticized hard-line Islamists.
The government-appointed Grand Sheik of al-Azhar has traditionally followed the government line.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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