Global media is widely reporting on Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi’s return to Egypt and his speech delivered on Cairo’s Tahrir square today. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Qaradawi called for the dissolution of the government appointed by Hosni Mubarak before his resignation:
Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians poured into Cairo’s central Tahrir square on Friday to celebrate the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak .Mr. al-Qaradawi’s return on Thursday night to Egypt from Qatar, where he spent years in exile, is the latest example of how Egypt’s long stagnant political scene is being enlivened by an ideologically diverse array of leaders, who had been kept in check by Mr. Mubarak. Mr. al-Qaradawi is close to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. The graying 84-year-old sheikh, speaking from a chair on stage in the square, told Egyptians that the revolution must continue and called on the army to free all political prisoners still in detention, to dissolve the cabinet of ministers appointed by Mr. Mubarak, and to transfer authority to a civilian government as soon as possible. He also called on the military to open Egypt’s border crossing with Gaza immediately to allow free passage of goods and people into and out of the territory, home to 1.5 million Palestinians. Mr. al-Qaradawi’s call is likely to increase popular pressure on the military government to ease the siege of Gaza, which was strictly enforced by Mr. Mubarak. But even if the military regime resists such calls in the short term, it is an indicator of the direction in which Egyptian popular sentiment may push a future democratically elected government. The demand to get rid of a government that was formed during Mr. Mubarak’s final days in power, remains a key demand for opposition leaders, who want to see a more inclusive government preside over the transition period. Tahrir Square on Friday was filled with chants of “The people want the purification of the country,” a reference to their desire to see the government cleansed of faces from the old regime. Mr. al-Qaradawi also praised the military, which he called “the protector of our youth.” He urged Egyptians to be patient as the military struggles to oversee the transition period and restore order. He called on striking workers to go back to their jobs, throwing his backing behind the military’s calls for workers to end dozens of strikes that are hurting the country’s economic recovery. “If they don’t go back to their jobs, this will affect the economy negatively,” Mr. al-Qaradawi said.
Qaradawi, a virulent anti-Semite 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 recently reiterated his support for suicide bombing in Israel and expressed his desire to die as a martyr “at the hands of a non-Muslim.”
The GMBDW has been covering Qaradawi extensively in these pages for some time. Our coverage on him can be found here.