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

1 / 2
2 / 2
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.


Do Arab views on white nationalism hide more than they reveal?

Updated 9 sec ago

Do Arab views on white nationalism hide more than they reveal?

  • Arab News/YouGov survey asked residents of 18 Arab countries about their idea of the three biggest threats facing the US
  • Complex set of sentiments and emotions cited behind Arab views on racial strife abroad given the divisions closer to home

NEW YORK CITY: When George Floyd drew his last breath under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer on May 25 this year, footage of his death flooded television screens and social media platforms around the world.

Months later, civil unrest continues to rage across the US. Americans from all walks of life are marching to demand equality, justice and the abolition of institutional racism, especially among the police, under the flag of Black Lives Matter.

Floyd’s death also struck a painful chord in the Arab world. From Cairo to Beirut, vigils were held for this African-American victim of police brutality — another “one too many.”

Arab empathy, however, appears to be mitigated by a complex set of sentiments and emotions in response to racial strife in America.

When a recent Arab News/YouGov survey asked Arabs across 18 Middle East and North African countries what they believe are the three biggest threats facing America, white nationalism came out first with 32 percent.

Emad El-Hady, Washington-based author and political analyst, believes there is an element of schadenfreude in the way Arabs view the US race protests as highlighting the chronic inequality between whites and ethnic minorities.

“Part of the Arab reaction was: ‘Look at America! This is the country that is lecturing us day and night about human rights! Now, look at how they treat their people!’” he said.

“But also, to a certain extent, (survey participants) are right in singling out white nationalism. There is a lot of talk today that America is on the verge of a civil war, because the tension is really high. But I think this could only happen if the election results are disputed, and more likely so if Trump loses.”

Donald Trump, the White House incumbent, has been accused by his critics of flirting with the white nationalist vote and refusing to condemn ‘alt-right’ movements. This stance has been interpreted by groups such as the far-right Proud Boys as a rallying cry for them to prepare to fight a “fraudulent” election on Nov. 3, “rigged by the far-left.”

Beyond the ghost of “civil war” brandished by US media commentators on both sides of the partisan divide, El-Hady believes America has reached a reckoning. “Let’s not forget that racism is 400 years old and cannot be overcome overnight. But now, a lot of white people are looking back and saying, ‘What have we done to these people?’”

However, El-Hady says his own views are in closer alignment with the 22 percent of participants in the Arab News/YouGov survey who identified China as the biggest threat to the US.

“White nationalism is containable and contained. But who can beat China? It is the biggest threat because it has beaten the West at its own game. Beijing played into the hands of market capitalism but with an advantage of being a one-man show. Here in the US, we fight every election over immigration, healthcare, arms possession. In China, the guy just has to press a button and the problem is solved.”

It could be that those Arabs who say white nationalism is America’s greatest peril are in fact exposing their own anxieties about ethnicity, sectarianism and violent extremism.

“Islamic extremism, be it in its Salafist or Muslim Brotherhood versions, uses force to change the world view, starting in their own country, and expanding to include infidels of other nations. Look what just happened in France,” El-Hady said, referring to Samuel Paty, a teacher who was beheaded near his school on Oct. 6 for showing cartoons of Prophet Muhammad in class.

The perpetrator, an 18-year-old ethnic Chechen named as Abdullakh Anzorov, is alleged to have had ties to Islamic extremist groups abroad.

A supporter of US President Donald Trump wears a "Proud Boys" shirt prior to his arrival for NBC News town hall event at the Perez Art Museum in Miami on October 15, 2020. (AFP/File Photo)

“These terrorist organizations that have plagued the Arab world are much more dangerous than white nationalism,” said El-Hady.

Arabs also appear to relate to the inequality suffered by ethnic minorities in America, with 35 percent of them identifying inequality is the biggest woe for average Americans.

“When Egyptians took to the streets they chanted: ‘Bread. Freedom. Social justice.’ Iraqis rose in anger against corruption, the lack of opportunity, and inequality. And it took Algerians three months to unseat a government amid high unemployment. Libya is tearing itself apart. Sudan’s deprivation is unrivaled. And Yemen is a poor country by definition,” El-Hady said.

“It is all about a fair share of the wealth and opportunity. This is a very American term upon which the whole American model is based — that everybody should have a shot at wealth, success, and education. If America is failing at this, what do you expect from the Arab world?”


Twitter: @EphremKossaify