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Middle East
Al-Azhar head dies in Saudi Arabia
Tantawi, Sunni Islam's most senior religious figure, stirred controversy with ban on niqab.
Last Modified: 10 Mar 2010 10:17 GMT
Tantawi wrote a number of books, including a 15-volume interpretation of the Quran [AFP]

Sheikh Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, Sunni Islam's most senior religious figure, has died during a visit to Saudi Arabia.

The 82-year-old Egyptian, who had previously undergone heart surgery, suffered a heart attack as he boarded a flight early Wednesday morning, Egyptian television said.

He was admitted to the Amir Sultan hospital in Riyadh where doctors proclaimed him dead.

Tantawi - who headed al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's highest seat of learning -  was known for his controversial ban of the niqab, which he said had no basis in Islam.

He also wrote a number of books, including a 15-volume, 7,000-page encyclopedia on the interpretation of Quran.

His body is likely to be sent back to Cairo on Wednesday evening, local television said.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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