Saudi media is reporting that Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi has “expressed his regret again over the years he spent trying to reconcile Sunnis and Shiites.” According to the Asharq Al-Awsat report:
The Egyptian preacher Yusuf Al-Qaradawi who is also the President of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) expressed his regret again over the years he spent trying to reconcile Sunnis and Shiites. He launched a sharp attack on Shitte religious authorities and praised Saudi Arabian scholars who realised the true nature of Lebanese Hezbollah’s secretary general early on. He added that the Saudi Arabian scholars were more mature than him with regards to their stance on Shiites.
Al-Qaradawi also commented on the deep crisis faced by the Muslim Brotherhood and called on its leaders to hold comprehensive elections at home and abroad to overcome their current crisis.
Al-Qaradawi reposted a clip of himself filmed during a conference to help the Syrian people which was held in Qatar. The clip showed Al-Qaradawi addressing a group of Sunni scholars and religious leaders whilst saying that the idea of rapprochement between sects has worked in favour of the Shiites and that the Sunnis have not benefited from it at all. He added that “after this long period of time I do not see the benefit of rapprochement between Sunnis and Shiites. The Sunnis lose and the Shiites gain.”
In what appears as the most important acknowledgement of the depth of the split in the Muslim Brotherhood’s ranks in Egypt, Al-Qaradawi called the group to hold comprehensive elections in Egypt and abroad to overcome the current crisis facing the Muslim Brotherhood. He also called on the conflicting parties to stop bickering until elections are held. However, former members of the group played down the importance of Al-Qaradawi’s initiative and told Asharq Al-Awsat that the group’s crisis has exceeded its regulatory limits and argued that the announcement of the initiative itself is a sign of failure.
In October 2008, the GMBDW reported on what we described at the time as one of the most significant controversies in recent memory involving the Global Muslim Brotherhood and resulting from comments by global Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi accusing Shiites of being heretics intent on invading Sunni societies, (comments he reiterated in March 2009.) Those comments resulted in a firestorm of controversy throughout the Muslim world and Qaradawi was heavily criticized, not only by the Shiite community but also by the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and its Supreme Guide who appeared at that time to be moving closer to Iran. As we noted then, and despite Qaradawi’s denials of pressure from the Saudis to attack the Shiites, knowledgeable sources reported to us that Qaradawi was indeed likely motivated by such Saudi pressure as well as by his desire to set himself above the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and its leader. Ever the politician, we also noted that Qaradawi had also reaffirmed his support for Iran and Iranian-backed Hezbollah:
Qaradawi also dismissed as “untrue” the claim that he played down the importance of the “victory” achieved by Hezbollah against Israel in the July 2006 war because the Lebanese party was following the Shia school of thought. He said he had been in support of Iran’s right to possess nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. “In my Friday sermon, I even called upon Muslims around the world to defend Iran if it was attacked by the US. I did that because Iran is an integral part of the Muslim world and it is our duty to defend it against any foreign aggression,” he added.
However, by March 2012, we were reporting that Qaradawi had denounced Hezbollah and Iran in connection with the Syrian uprising, saying that Hezbollah treads a path of transgression, murder and tyranny.”
Qaradawi’s latest comments suggest to us that Saudi pressure on Qaradawi in 2008 to mount attacks on the Shiites was very real and that he may be attempting to cement his relationship with the Kingdom which seems to have suffered of late. In December 2015 we reported that Saudi education authorities had called for the removal of around 80 books from libraries and schools including those by Muslim Brotherhood ideologues Hassan Al Banna, Sayyed Qutb, and Youssef Qaradawi.
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 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.
For a listing of extremist comments made by Qaradawi, go here.