Qaradawi and Qatar: the hate preacher who became Doha’s spiritual guide

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Qatar’s emir greeting Al-Qaradawi at the emir’s yearly Ramadan iftar for religious leaders in June 2017. He had the seat of honor next to the emir. (Supplied photo)
Updated 01 April 2019

Qaradawi and Qatar: the hate preacher who became Doha’s spiritual guide

  • Don’t let the Muslim cleric fool you: For decades he has fanned religious hatred and violence
  • Despite his fatwas demonstrating his extremist tendencies, he remains unchecked by his host country

JEDDAH: Yusuf Al-Qaradawi is next in our series “Preachers of Hate.” He is one of the fountainheads of the Muslim Brotherhood, the religious-political organization that has been sanctioned and proscribed by Gulf states and many Western countries. 

The Brotherhood’s followers are accused of fanning religious hatred and promoting a cult of violence in order to achieve political power.

In a recent tweet, Al-Qaradawi claims that he is not a preacher of hate and that he spent 25 years promoting moderate thought. 

“I stood against extremism and extremists for approximately a quarter of a century. I saw its threat to deen and dunya (religion and the temporal world), on the individual and society, and I have reinforced my pen, tongue and thought (to support) the call for moderation and reject exaggeration and negligence, either in the field of fiqh and fatwa (Islamic jurisprudence and legal pronouncement in Islam) or in the field of tableegh and da’wah (guidance and preaching),” he tweeted.

But his track record reveals exactly the opposite. He has justified suicide bombings, especially in Palestine, has repeatedly spoken out against Jews as a community, and has issued fatwas (religious edicts) that demean women.

In a fatwa on his website, he states that martyrdom is a higher form of jihad. In a 2005 interview on the BBC’s “Newsnight” program, he praised suicide bombings in Israeli-occupied Palestine as martyrdom in the name of God. “I supported martyrdom operations, and I am not the only one,” he said. 

He encourages Muslims who are unable to fight to financially support mujahideen (those engaged in jihad) everywhere in foreign lands. 

This can hardly be described, according to what he says in his tweet, as a stand against terrorism.

Al-Qaradawi has issued fatwas authorizing attacks on all Jews. On Al Jazeera Arabic in January 2009, he said: “Oh God, take Your enemies, the enemies of Islam … Oh God, take the treacherous Jewish aggressors … Oh God, count their numbers, slay them one by one and spare none.” He has a similar disdain and a deep-seated hatred of Europeans.

On his TV show in 2013, broadcast from Doha to millions worldwide, Al-Qaradawi lambasted Muslim countries as weak, and called on citizens to overthrow their governments and launch a war against all who oppose the Brotherhood, describing them as “khawarij” (enemies of Islam). 

A revolt against then-Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, who hailed from the Brotherhood, began on June 30, 2013.

That Al-Qaradawi is an Islamic supremacist, and has total disdain for Europe and its culture, can be gauged from one of his lectures on Qatar TV in 2007. “I think that Islam will conquer Europe without resorting to the sword or fighting. Europe is miserable with materialism, with the philosophy of promiscuity and with the immoral considerations that rule the world — considerations of self-interest and self-indulgence,” he said. “It’s high time (Europe) woke up and found a way out from this, and it won’t find a lifesaver or a lifeboat other than Islam.”

Observers in the Middle East are perplexed by Qatar’s support and granting of citizenship to an incendiary ideologue such as Al-Qaradawi, especially since Doha claims that it is fighting terrorism. 

One of the major reasons for the Anti-Terror Quartet — comprising Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain — boycotting Qatar is Doha’s promotion of terrorism and its active support to terrorists.

When the late Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden became a menace to world peace, and when he unleashed terrorism in different parts of the world, Riyadh took the logical step of stripping him of his Saudi citizenship. 

Political observers feel that Qatar should have done something similar in Al-Qaradawi’s case. He is a renegade cleric who was accused of ordering the assassination of political figures in his home country Egypt, and who was sentenced to death in absentia. 

Qatar should have handed him over to Egypt, but it did not. Instead, it granted him citizenship.

In a 2017 exclusive interview with Arab News on the sidelines of the Doha Forum, Qatar’s Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani was asked why his country continued to support Al-Qaradawi. His answer was instructive. “He is a Qatari citizen who carries Qatari nationality, and an elderly individual, and thus we cannot tell him to depart Qatar,” Al-Thani said. “The Qatari constitution does not allow for the submission of any Qatari citizen to foreign judiciary, be it in an Arab or non-Arab country.”

Salman Al-Ansari, founder of the Saudi American Public Relation Affairs Committee, refers to the Law of Political Asylum, promulgated by Qatar. 

He said this grants terrorists and extremists certain privileges under the pretext of asylum, “the most important of which is escape from legal pursuits.” 

To all intents and purposes, he added, the law gives terrorists the right to residency and Qatari citizenship, and the ability to move freely between states using false names and nationalities.

 


Water-scarce Gulf states bank on desalination, at a cost

Updated 12 December 2019

Water-scarce Gulf states bank on desalination, at a cost

  • For Oman and other Gulf states dominated by vast deserts, obtaining fresh water from the sea comes at a high cost
  • In Sur, water for residents and businesses comes from a large desalination plant

SUR, OMAN: “We have water, and it’s the most important thing in a house,” says Abdullah Al-Harthi from the port city of Sur in Oman, a country that relies on desalination plants.
But for Oman and the other Gulf countries dominated by vast and scorching deserts, obtaining fresh water from the sea comes at a high financial and environmental cost.
In Sur, south of the capital Muscat, water for residents and businesses comes from a large desalination plant that serves some 600,000 people.
“Before, life was very difficult. We had wells, and water was delivered by trucks,” the 58-year-old told AFP. “Since the 1990s, water has come through pipes and we’ve had no cuts.”
But these benefits — relying on energy intensive processes that produce carbon emissions — do not come without a cost, particularly as global temperatures rise.
The United Nations says 2019 is on course to be one of the hottest three years on record.
And there is another impact: the desalination plants produce highly concentrated salt water, or brine, that is often dumped back into the ocean.
Researchers say more than 16,000 desalination plants around the globe produce more toxic sludge than freshwater.
For every liter of freshwater extracted from the sea or brackish water, a liter-and-a-half of salty slurry is deposed at sea or on land, according to a 2019 study in the journal Science.
All that extra salt raises the temperature of coastal waters and decreases the level of oxygen, which can conspire to create biological “dead zones.”
The super-salty substance is made even more toxic by the chemicals used in the desalination process.
Oman’s bigger neighbors produce the bulk of the brine.
More than half comes from just four countries — Saudi Arabia, at 22 percent, United Arab Emirates with 20 percent, and smaller shares by Kuwait and Qatar, according to UN data.
“Brine production in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait and Qatar accounts for 55 percent of the total global share,” according to the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health.
It said new strategies are needed “to limit the negative environmental impacts and reduce the economic cost of disposal.”
This would help “to safeguard water supplies for current and future generations.”
At the Sur plant, “almost no chemicals” are used during the pre-treatment phase, as the water is naturally filtered through the cracks of karst rocks, said Mahendran Senapathy, operations manager at French company Veolia which runs the plant along with an Omani firm.
There are other ways to safeguard freshwater supplies, from encouraging savings and efficiently to recycling wastewater.
Antoine Frerot, chief executive of Veolia, said wastewater recycling will help resolve the problem of water scarcity.
He also pointed out that “reused water is less costly,” nearly one third less than that won through desalination.
Omani authorities continue to mount campaigns urging people to use water wisely, mindful that other demands — especially the energy sector — also guzzle up large amounts.
Across the Gulf, huge amounts of water are used not just for homes, gardens and golf courses, but also for the energy sector that is the source of the region’s often spectacular wealth.
On the edge of the Arabian peninsula’s “Empty Quarter,” the world’s largest expanse of sand, lies the Khazzan gas field, operated by BP and the Oman Oil Company.
The method used to extract the gas here is hydraulic fracturing — more commonly known as fracking — said Stewart Robertson, operations manager at the site.
The method requires huge amounts of water. The site is supplied by a facility that provides 6,000 cubic meters of water a day, extracted from an underground aquifer 50 kilometers (30 miles) away.
Fracking involves directional drilling and then pumping water, sand and chemicals at high pressure to fracture rock and release the hydrocarbons.
The rock formations that hold the gas are “like a big sponge with lots of little holes in it,” said Robertson, explaining that fracking is the process “to open those holes slightly to take the gas out.”
So the more the region extracts oil and natural or shale gas, “the more they need water,” said Charles Iceland of the World Resources Institute.
“The Middle East is projected to need more and more energy,” he said. “So that means the situation is going to get worse.”
“On the other hand,” he said, “if they can produce power using solar photovoltaic technologies, which are getting reasonably priced in the Middle East, that would take care of a lot of the problem because solar PV doesn’t need much water.
“You need just some water to clean the solar panels.”