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Sheikh Al Tayyib’s remarks came amid a decade-old dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) built on the Nile that Egyptians fear will cut their vital water share. Image Credit: Reuters

Cairo: Imam of the Cairo-based Al Azhar Sheikh Ahmed Al Tayyib has condemned claims over and monopolisation of world natural resources, calling it a “dangerous phenomenon” that requires a concerted global stance.

“Environmental protection is going through a crisis that can be described as a crisis. And if the matter is left for those tampering with Allah’s blessings and space, no one will survive its destructive effects in the West or the East,” the top Muslim cleric told the UN in a World Environment message.

He said it is inappropriate to allow an individual or a country to monopolise such resources and deprive others of getting access to them.

“Water in its comprehensive concept, which ranges from a small mouthful to rivers and seas comes in the forefront of the necessary resources that religions stipulate the imperativeness of collectively and jointly owning them,” he added in a video address.

“Prohibiting or depriving others from using them is a usurpation of one of Allah’s rights and is an act from the prohibiting side in something that he does not own,” the pre-eminent scholar added.

“Whoever does this is an oppressor and an aggressor. The local and international agencies in charge must stand up to him and protect people’s rights from his manipulation and causing harm on the earth,” he said.

Sheikh Al Tayyib’s remarks came amid a decade-old dispute between Egypt and Ethiopia over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) built on the Nile that Egyptians fear will cut their vital water share.

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan – a third Nile country—have failed in a series of negotiation rounds to resolve the GERD dispute.

Egyptian officials have often blamed Ethiopia for the GERD impasse and demanded Addis Ababa not unilaterally fill the dam due next month before reaching a binding agreement.

Egypt relies heavily on the Nile to cover the water needs of its population of over 100 million people.

Ethiopia has repeatedly ignored Egyptians’ worries and defended its construction of the $5 billion dam as being crucial for its development and lifting its population of around 107 million out of poverty.