This statement is unique in its gravity and in that it is signed by all the highest ranks of the Islamic institutions in Egypt. Such unity was previously expressed only after the assassination of the late President Anwar al-Sadat on October 1981, which sent a great shock through Egyptian society, and the attempt to kill President Mubarak in Ethiopia in June 1995.
Under the religious leadership of the former Sheikh al-Azhar, Sheikh Gad al-Haq `Ali Gad al-Haq, who died on March 1996, there were many controversies between the Islamic establishment and the State leadership. The present religious leader, Sheikh Tantawi, seems much more cooperative with the regime, and sees eye-to-eye with it on many important political and social issues requiring such cooperation. The Mubarak regime seeks Islamic legitimacy in several essential matters, such as the fight against the Islamic terrorist elements, birth control, organ transplants, and women's place in the society. In all these matters Sheikh Tantawi is much more moderate and liberal than his predecessors.