April 12, 2014 Abu Dhabi// A Muslim Brotherhood imam who has been critical of the UAE did not return to giving his usual sermon in Doha on Friday as expected, citing health concerns.
The sermon would have been Egyptian-born Youssef Al Qaradawi’s first since an unprecedented dispute between GCC states, and his words could have escalated tensions further.
That Mr Al Qaradawi did not speak raises hopes that the spat involving Qatar and the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain might be slowly moving towards a resolution.
‘Although there are many underlying factors he certainly is a catalyst for the problems that came up in the past few months,’ said Andrew Hammond, a Middle East analyst at the European Council on Foreign Relations. ‘The less he is visible the better to help solve the crisis.’
A popular spiritual guide for the Brotherhood, Mr Al Qaradawi had used his sermons last January to lash out at the UAE’s support for the interim government in Egypt.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia have given billions of dollars in aid to Egypt after the country’s military removed president Mohammed Morsi, a member of the Brotherhood, from the presidency in July, following mass protests against his rule.
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The GMBDW reported last week that according to Lebanese media, Youssef Qaradawi was expected to resume his weekly sermons following a gap of several weeks.
The GMBDW reported in late February that the latest sermon by Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi had further threatened relations between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors. Meanwhile, Qatari media is reporting that Qaradawi is defending remarks he made critical of the military deposition of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi as well as revealing that he has been ill again of late. Our predecessor publication reported in 2012 on what was at that time the latest in a series of hospitalizations of the Global Muslim Brotherhood leader. The GMBDW had reported earlier in February that Qaradawi had called upon Saudi Arabia to stop supporting the military-led government in Egypt whom he called “far from God and Islam.” The GMDW has been reporting recently on Qaradawi’s clash with UAE saying that the country was “against Islamic rule.” The GMBDW has also reported that Egypt is seeing his extradition in connection with a mass jailbreak during 2011.
Youssef Qaradawi is the most important leader of the Global Muslim Brotherhood and is the de facto spiritual leader of the movement. He is also considered to be the “spiritual guide” for Hamas and his fatwas in support of suicide bombings against Israeli citizens were utilized by Hamas to justify their operations. In 2004, Qaradawi turned down the offer to head he Egyptian Brotherhood after the death of the Supreme Guide and now denies that he has any relationship with the Egyptian Brotherhood. He is based in Qatar and has said the Qatari Emir has protected from being designated as a terrorist by the U.S. He has also reportedly amassed substantial wealth by serving as the Shari’ah adviser to many important Islamic banks and funds. Qaradawi is the head of the Union of Good (UOG), a worldwide coalition of charities helping to raise funds for Hamas and is the leader of the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR), the theological body of the European Muslim Brotherhood. MEMRI has produced two video compilations of Qaradawi’s extremist statements. The first collection contains Qaradawi’s statements about Europe and the US as well as about Israel and Jews. The second collection contains various statements by Qaradawi on social issues such as discussing the killing of homosexuals and stating that beating is “suitable” for some wives. Qaradawi been banned from entering the US since 1999 and UK since 2008. Last year, authorities also refused him entry into France.
For a more extensive profile of Youssef Qaradawi, go here.