Tunisian media is reporting on the controversy in Tunisia over the visit of Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi. According to a Tunisia Live report, Qaradawi will be speaking tonight at a rally in the presence of Rached Ghannouchi the leader of Ennahdha, the Muslim Brotherhood in Tunisia:
Youssef Al Qaradawi, a controversial Egypt-born cleric and talk-show host, began his week-long visit to Tunisia today, May 3. Qaradawi is based in Qatar, and hosts ‘Sharia [Islamic law] and Life’ – which currently reaches roughly 60 million viewers on Al Jazeera. According to Noureddine Harbeoui, the spokesperson of Tunisia’s dominant center-right Islamist party Ennahdha, the visit of the Islamic scholar was officially organized by his party. He explained that the visit will be an enriching experience for the country, given that he represents ‘a prominent Muslim scholar in the Arab world.’ ‘For sure we will have people opposing the visit, but Qaradawi has many followers as well. His rally will be proof. We should give all Tunisians the opportunity to meet their favorite public figures,’ Harbeoui added. Salem El Adeli, president of the Imams’ League, asserted that the visit is an important opportunity to nullify some of the negative perceptions surrounding Qaradawi. Qaradawi’s controversial rhetoric, regarding a number of topics ranging from the rights of women and homosexuals to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, has resulted in him being labeled as an extremist by some. He has also been banned from entering the U.S., the UK, and France. ‘Tunisia has proven itself to be an open country, opening its doors to all scholars. He is against extremism and terrorism,’ Salem said. Several civil society representatives were less excited about the upcoming visit of the controversial cleric. Bochra Ben Hamida is a lawyer and human rights activist who opposed the visit of Wajdi Ghoneim – another firebrand Islamic scholar from Egypt – last February. Hamida and a number of other lawyers attempted to build a case against Ghoneim, accusing him of inciting hatred, and making unauthorized use of public spaces for the purpose of worship. ‘I don’t have any problem with anyone coming to Tunisia. My only concern is the unity of the people, which can be threatened by bringing controversial figures who peddle religion,’ she stated.
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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. A recent post reported that Youssef Qaradawi had said that it is not permissible for a woman to “travel alone to study in a Western country, or in any country, for that matter.
Another recent post discussed the Egyptian presidential candidacy of Abdel-Moneim Abul Fotouh who is backed by Qaradawi.