Gulf media is reporting that Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi has harshly criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel over her support of Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, who provoked anger in the Muslim world in 2005 by drawing controversial cartoons of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. According to a Gulf Times report:
Doha-based Islamic scholar Sheikh Yousuf al-Qaradawi yesterday slammed German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s honouring of a Danish cartoonist who had satirised the Prophet Muhammad as “showing disrespect for Islam sanctities”. In his Friday sermon, Sheikh Qaradawi said the honouring by the German leader of the cartoonist showed “disrespect for Islam’s sanctities and Muslims sentiments” on her part. “The Danish cartoonist has offended Muslims around the world with his insulting cartoons. He was the first to mock our Prophet in cartoon and others followed suit. I do not know why Mrs Merkel has done such a thing, especially after years of the incident,” Sheikh Qaradawi told a congregation at the Omar bin Al Khattab Mosque at Khalifa South town. Kurt Westergaard, the cartoonist who caused outrage around the Muslim world by his insulting caricature, was honoured by Merkel at a ceremony defending press freedom earlier this month. Sheikh Qaradawi also slammed “double standards of freedom” adopted by the West, saying that such acts would only widen the gap between Islam and the West. “I was for the possibility of bridging the gap between the East and the West, but recently I have changed my mind on this issue, especially since the West wants to impose its values and traditions on us,” he said. “I can understand that freedom of speech means that if I am a non-Muslim, I could disagree with Islamic principles and values. But I cannot understand it in the way that allows someone to insult my religious sanctities.” The scholar criticised the Muslim nations, saying that no single state had condemned the German leader’s action. He slammed the French ban on the full face veil (niqab) and the veil hijab for women in France, saying that the ban was an “encroachment on personal and religious freedom”. “I do not believe that niqab is obligatory for Muslim women, but some other scholars do. Why we did not see a law passed in France against scantly-clad women? France is supposed to be a secular state, but now we see it adopting a hostile approach to religion and preventing Muslim women from wearing either hijab or niqab,” he added.
Youssef Qaradawi is often referred to here as the most important leader of the global Muslim Brotherhood, an acknowledgement of his role as the de facto spiritual leader of the movement. In 2004, Qaradawi turned down the offer to lead the Egyptian Brotherhood after the death of the Supreme Guide. Based in Qatar, Sheikh Qaradawi has reportedly amassed substantial wealth through his role as Shari’ah adviser to many important Islamic banks and funds. He is also considered to be the “spiritual guide” for Hamas and his fatwas in support of suicide bombings against Israeli citizens were instrumental in the development of the phenomenon. A recent post has discussed a video compilation of Qaradawi’s extremist statements.
Qaradawi played a major role in sparking the cartoon controversy be declaring a “Day of Rage” although he had never seen the cartoons in question.