Gulf media is reporting a strike being carried out by Egyptian employes of IslamOnline who claim that Qatar plans to control the site and impose a new editorial policy on it. According to a report in the Gulf News:
More than 200 Egyptian employees at IslamOnline, a Qatari-owned Islamic website in Egypt, are on a strike in protest against what they say is an attempt by Qatari owners to lay them off. “A big question mark has arisen after the Qatari Cultural Call Society (which owns the site) last month sent a committee of lawyers and administrators allegedly to overhaul the site,” said Moustafa Salama, one of the protesters. “Much to our surprise, we learnt that 90 per cent of the employees will be sacked and the headquarters of the site will be moved from Cairo to Doha,” he added. There was no immediate comment from officials at the company operating the website at the 6th of October City outside Cairo. IslamOnline has generated wide popularity among Muslims since it started in late 1990s. The owning institution is chaired by famous Qatari Egyptian-born Muslim cleric Youssef Al Qaradawi, who is reportedly in Saudi Arabia for medical treatment. Protesters claim that Qatar plans to control the site and impose a new editorial policy on it. “We call on the Egyptian government to interfere in order to stop this plan and solve our problem with the Qatari owners,” said another striker, who gave his name only as Ahmed. Relations between Egypt and Qatar are occasionally strained due to what Cairo says are the anti-Egypt policy espoused by the Qatari news TV Al Jazeera.
IslamOnline is strongly identified with Youssef Qaradawi, probably the most important leader of the global Muslim Brotherhood, and functions as the media mouthpiece of the global Brotherhood.
In 2008, a Qatar news paper reported on the Al Balagh Cultural Society, the founding and operating body behind IslamOnline. According to that report:
Al Balagh Cultural Society, the founding and operating body behind Islamonline.net, a fatwa web portal, was established in 1997 by two Qatari IT specialists Maryam Hasan Al Hajari and Dr Hamid Al Ansari, a scholar at the Shariah Faculty of the University of Qatar. In its early stages the project was supported by the University of Qatar, particularly by Sheikh Yusuf Al Qaradawi, the 1926-born, Azhar-educated Egyptian scholar and theorist of the Islamic Awakening movement who still chairs the Al Balagh Society today.
The report went on to discuss the role of Nasser Bin Khaled, described as Qatar’s leading business conglomerate, in the support of IslamOnline:
Upholding a strong legacy of societal contributions, NBK has long been at the forefront of community relations activities, a pillar of the business’ commitment towards its corporate social responsibility and towards contributing to the welfare of its fellow citizens. Nasser Bin Khaled, Qatar’s leading business conglomerate, recently donated a Mitsubishi pick-up to Al Balagh Cultural Society. The donation is in line with NBK’s annual Corporate Social Responsibility Program with endeavors that span several socioeconomic avenues. In turn, Al Balagh Cultural Society will use this vehicle in their efforts to raise donations for charitable organization across Qatar. BusinessWeek describes NBK as a holding company involved in automotive retail, construction, oil and gas, agricultural materials, civil engineering, consultancy services, broadcasting, information technology and communication, contracting and project management, merchandise and retail market, car rental, luxury and fashion, hospitality, and real estate businesses.
It is not known what role, if any, Nasser Bin Khaled is playing in the events described above.
A German graduate student has written a history and analysis of IslamOnline.