The Islamic news portal OnIslam, closely associated with Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi, has announced that it has launched a virtual version of Cairo’s Tahrir Square on its own island in the virtual world known as Second LIfe. According to the announcement:
OnIslam.net has launched Tahrir Square on the website’s own island in the virtual world of Second Life, giving a space for oppressed people to press for freedoms and democracy. “Our Tahrir Square is not for Egypt only,” Awatef Mahmoud, organizer of the virtual Tahrir Square, says. “It is for all Arab countries and those who are asking for freedom and human rights respect and those who want to eliminate corruption and injustice.” The virtual Tahrir Square was launched at 12:30 PST (Second Life time), 10:30 pm Cairo local time on Thursday, February 24. Meaning Liberation, Tahrir Square is a major public square in the Egyptian capital Cairo. Tahrir Square came to prominence for being the epicenter of protests that brought down the 30-year regime of Egypt’s president Hosni Mubarak. The square stole the international attention for the civilized style of demonstrations and signs of Muslim-Christian unity during the anti-Mubarak revolution. In one scene, Christians held a Mass in Tahrir Square as Muslim protesters formed a ring around them to protect them during the service. Chanting “one hand,” they appeared holding the Holy Quran and the Cross as Christians and Muslims crossed their hands. After Mubarak’s ouster, Egyptians of all walks of life joined hands in cleaning up Tahrir Square. Second Life is a 3D virtual world with millions of users. It is completely interactive, with everything inside created by its users. SL was created in 2003 by Linden Labs, and it has grown exponentially in 2007. In January 2010, some 18 million accounts were registered. To reach the island, a visitor needs to create an account at www.secondlife.com and download a 70MB program. Martyrs Walls The virtual Tahrir Square features three walls for those killed in the popular uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. “At our Tahrir Square, we have 3 Martyrs walls (Tunisian Martyrs wall, Egyptians Martyrs wall, Libyans Martyrs wall),” Awatef says. “We can write on the walls about all martyrs.”
The origins of the Qaradawi organization’s move into Second Life was discussed in a post from September 2007 which noted that the mov may have been prompted by a July article posted on Islam Online that discussed a British news report about Roman Catholic missionaries being encouraged to enter Second Life. A series of posts have discussed various Second Life activities conducted by IslamOnline, until recently associated with Qaradawi. These activities have included:
- A Ramadan tent
- An appearance by an anti-Semitic Al-Azhar professor
- Haj (pilgrimage) training for the Japanese
- A virtually rally against the Gaza blockade
- English classes
The OnIslam portal is the successor to IslamOnline which followed the ouster of Youssef Qaradawi from the board of the IOL governing society. Qaradawi is 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.” He has also written that Jews and Muslims will fight a cosmic final battle at the end of Time.
The GMBDW has been covering Qaradawi extensively in these pages for some time. Our coverage on him can be found here.