White House Pays Tribute to Tantawi, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar

News article, posted 03.24.2010, from Egypt, in:
Kuwait Times

CAIRO: Top cleric Sheikh Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, a controversial figure in Egypt, died yesterday in Saudi Arabia of a heart attack suffered while boarding a plane, state media said. Tantawi was the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's highest seat of learning. He had been in Riyadh to attend the King Faisal awards ceremony, Egypt's official MENA news agency said. Tantawi, 81, was boarding an early morning flight when he suffered severe pain and fell on the stairs, Egyptian television said. He was rushed t o the Amir Sultan hospital in Riyadh where doctors pronounced him dead. An Egyptian official told AFP that Tantawi had died of a heart attack...[Excerpt-See URL for full text.]

...The United States paid tribute to Tantawi's "hospitality", recalling that he had hosted President Barack Obama when he visited Cairo to deliver a keynote address to world Muslims in June last year. "As the grand sheikh of Al-Azhar University, he was a voice for faith and tolerance who was widely respected in Muslim communities in Egypt and around the globe, and by many who seek to build a world grounded in mutual respect," said White House spokesman Robert Gibbs. [Excerpt-See URL for full text.]