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Qaradawi Addresses Tahrir Square

Brotherhood cleric is popular, but may also be dangerous

The Editors
February 18, 2011
Tahrir Square today.(Pedro Ugarte/AFP/Getty Images)
Tahrir Square today.(Pedro Ugarte/AFP/Getty Images)

Leading Muslim Brotherhood cleric Yussuf al-Qaradawi addressed thousands and thousands of Egyptians who gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square today to mark the one-week anniversary of former President Hosni Mubarak’s departure. His message: The revolution has only begun; the ruling military must not drag its feet in supervising and instituting democratic reforms.

In his speech, Qaradawi, who has lived in Qatar during most of the Mubarak regime, explicitly denied a sectarian agenda: “The regime planted sectarianism here,” he said, “in Tahrir Muslims and Christians joined hands for a better Egypt.” Wael Ghonim, the Google executive who has become something like the face of the youth who have provided the month-long revolt its primary drive, tweeted, “I loved Sheikh Qaradawi Khutbah today. Was truly inspired when he said: Today I’m going to address both Muslims and Christians. Respect!”

However, last week in Tablet Magazine, Mideast columnist Lee Smith warned that Qaradawi is not somebody that either Israel or the West should want inspiring the revolutionaries or shaping the course of the revolution:

The idea that Qaradawi is a moderate because he favors a relatively liberal interpretation of the status of women within Islam, for example, disregards his belief that homosexuality is a crime that should be punished by death and his embrace of the Holocaust as a divine punishment of the Jews that will hopefully be repeated soon.

Here, for example, is Qaradawi speaking about the Holocaust to the audience of his popular Al Jazeera television show on January 30, 2009:

Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the [Jews] people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them—even though they exaggerated this issue—he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers.

Egypt Revolution Unfinished, Qaradawi Tells Tahrir Masses [Christian Science Monitor]
Related: Jewel of the Nile [Tablet Magazine]

From the editors of Tablet Magazine.