Saturday, February 19, 2011

Qaradawi in Egypt

As I've commented before, Yusuf al-Qaradawi matters, as a conservative Sunni Islamist who appeals to massive youth audiences through television even as the older generations remember his connection to Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna. On Friday, he gave a sermon in Midan Tahrir. I can't find a complete English text, but here is some of what he said:
"On Friday, he struck themes of democracy and pluralism, long hallmarks of his writing and preaching. He began his sermon by saying that he was discarding the customary opening 'Oh Muslims,' in favor of 'Oh Muslims and Copts,' referring to Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority. He praised Muslims and Christians for standing together in Egypt’s revolution and even lauded the Coptic Christian 'martyrs' who once fought the Romans and Byzantines. 'I invite you to bow down in prayer together,' he said.

"He urged the military officers governing Egypt to deliver on their promises of turning over power to 'a civil government' founded on principles of pluralism, democracy and freedom. And he called on the army to immediately release all political prisoners and rid the cabinet of its dominance by officials of the old Mubarak government.

"'We demand from the Egyptian Army to free us from the government that was appointed by Mubarak,' Sheik Qaradawi declared. 'We want a new government without any of these faces whom people can no longer stand.' And he urged the young people who led the uprising to continue their revolution. 'Protect it,' he said. 'Don’t you dare let anyone steal it from you.'"

Another source mentioned this:
"Qaradawi, a spiritual leader to the Muslim Brotherhood here, sought to reassure Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority saying 'in this square sectarianism died' and praised Copts for linking hands to symbolically protect Muslims while they prayed during the uprising.

"'The regime planted sectarianism here … in Tahrir Muslims and Christians joined hands for a better Egypt,' said the theologian, who has lived in semi-exile in Qatar for decades."

In my post from a week ago, I commented that the illiberal opinions of many Egyptians was a greater problem for developing a pluralistic society than the Muslim Brotherhood as an organization, and that there is no reason to suspect the latter of secretly planning a theocratic dictatorship. While I still expect to see an increase in, for example, blasphemy trials, there is an optimistic scenario in which strong comments by respected leaders such as Qaradawi mute popular attitudes towards, say, conversion much like American popular Islamophobia remained somewhat muted when President Bush repeatedly worked against it.

(Crossposted to American Footprints)



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think one of the greater observations that we have to keep in mind in regards to the events in Egypt is that whatever happens, the result will not be an isolated event within the country. Instead, precedents (as explained here: seem to indicate a very strong impact within the Middle East in general.

Well I hope this little bit is something to also keep in mind.

11:58 PM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home