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.

 


Camel herding in Western Sahara a passion with pedigree

Updated 21 November 2019

Camel herding in Western Sahara a passion with pedigree

  • In the Western Sahara, a local adage holds that he who has no camel, has nothing
  • "Camels can endure everything: sun, wind, sand and lack of water, and if they could talk, you’d easily hear how intelligent they are,” says herder

DAKHLA, Western Sahara: In the Oued Eddahab desert in Western Sahara, Habiboullah Dlimi raises dairy and racing camels just like his ancestors used to — but with a little help from modern technology.
His animals roam free in the desert and are milked as camels always have been, by hand, at dawn and dusk.
When camels “feed on wild plants and walk all day, the milk is much better,” said the 59-year-old herder, rhapsodizing about the benefits of the nutrient-rich drink, known as the “source of life” for nomads.
But Dlimi no longer lives with his flock.
He lives in town with his family. His camels are watched over by hired herders and Dlimi follows GPS coordinates across the desert in a 4X4 vehicle to reach them.
He is reticent when asked about the size of his herd. “That would bring bad luck,” he said.
He prefers to speak of the gentleness and friendliness of the animals he knows like his own children.
“Camels can endure everything: sun, wind, sand and lack of water, and if they could talk, you’d easily hear how intelligent they are,” he said.

A camel is silhouetted against the sunset in the desert near Dakhla in Morocco-administered Western Sahara, on Oct. 13, 2019. (AFP / FADEL SENNA)


"The desert knows me"
Dlimi comes from a long line of desert dwellers from the Ouled Dlimi tribe.
As tradition dictates, he lists his ancestors going back five generations when introducing himself.
“I know the desert and the desert knows me,” he said.
Like elsewhere, the nomads of Western Sahara are settling, following a shift from rural to urban living.
“Young people prefer to stay in town,” Dlimi said, and herders now mostly come from neighboring Mauritania, whose desert north is traversed by caravans of up to a thousand camels.
Even they “often demand to work in areas covered by (mobile phone) network signal,” he added.
The population of the nearby town of Dakhla has tripled to 100,000 in 20 years, with growth driven by fishing, tourism and greenhouse farming encouraged by Morocco.
In this part of Western Sahara, development projects depend entirely on Rabat.
Morocco has controlled 80 percent of the former Spanish colony since the 1970s and wants to maintain it as an autonomous territory under its sovereignty.
The Polisario Front movement fought a war for independence from 1975 to 1991 and wants a referendum in which the people of Western Sahara choose between independence and integration with Morocco.
The United Nations has been trying to negotiate a political compromise for decades.
Like many in his tribe, Dlimi has family members on the other side of the Western Sahara Wall separating the Moroccan controlled areas from the Polisario controlled areas.
He favors loyalty to Morocco while others back independence, he said.
Tribal affiliation trumps politics, though.
“Tribes are tribes, it’s a social organization,” he said. “There are very strong links between us.”
To “preserve the past for the future,” Dlimi started a cultural association to conserve traditions from a time when there were no borders and “families followed the herds and the clouds.”

A camel herder guides his flock in the desert near Dakhla in Morocco-administered Western Sahara on Oct. 13, 2019. (AFP / FADEL SENNA)


The irony
While Dlimi loves the desert, he does have one complaint: “The camel dairy industry is valued everywhere in the world except here.”
Camel milk is trendy with health-conscious consumers and the lean meat is excellent, Dlimi claims.
Today though, it is small livestock farming that is the main agricultural focus, in response to what non-nomadic Moroccans tend to eat.
The 266,000 square kilometers (106,400 square miles) of Western Sahara under Moroccan control hosts some 6,000 herders, 105,000 camels, and 560,000 sheep and goats, according to figures from Rabat.
In other arid countries, including Saudi Arabia, intensive farming of camels has taken off.
But, while Moroccan authorities have undertaken several studies into developing Western Sahara’s camel industry, these have not so far been acted upon.
Regardless, a local adage holds that he who has no camel, has nothing.
“Some say that Saharans are crazy because when they have money they spend it on four feet,” Dlimi jokes.
For him, 20,000 dirhams ($2,000) spent on a camel is a safe investment.
But it is also a consuming passion.
His Facebook page and WhatsApp messages are filled with talk of camel husbandry techniques, research and racing.
Racing “is a pleasure and it pays,” Dlimi said.
Since the United Arab Emirates funded construction of a camel racing track at Tantan, 900 kilometers (560 miles) to the north, racing animals have appreciated in value and can sell for up to 120,000 dirhams, according to Dlimi.
To train his racing camels, Dlimi chases the young animals across the desert in his 4X4.
The technique has made him an eight-time champion in national competitions, he said.
But camels can be stubborn, Dlimi stressed, telling of how he once sold his best champion for a “very good price,” but the animal refused to race once it had changed hands.