Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 17 November 2019

App backed by Al Qaradawi promoted on Apple Store

Britain's home secretary urged to take action over Yusuf Al Qaradawi's, which Google has now banned

Yusuf Al Qaradawi is a Doha-based Egyptian Islamic theologian and chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars. Mohammed Dabbous/ Reuters
Yusuf Al Qaradawi is a Doha-based Egyptian Islamic theologian and chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars. Mohammed Dabbous/ Reuters

A controversial mobile app launched by the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood is continuing to be promoted despite calls for it to be banned.

The Euro Fatwa App was created by the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR), which was founded by Yusuf Al Qaradawi – a Qatar-based figure who has previously been dubbed “a terrorist” and banned from the US, UK and France for his extremist views.

It contains an introduction by Al Qaradawi, now 93, in which he makes derogatory references to Jews while speaking about historic fatwas.

The free app, which claims it is suitable for ages four and upwards, was initially downloadable on Google and Apple.

On learning of its content, Google took the step of banning it within hours.

“While we can’t comment on individual apps, we’ll take swift action against any apps that break our policies once we’ve been made aware of them, including those that contain hate speech,” a statement said.

Meanwhile, three days after being alerted to its content, Apple is still continuing to allow consumers access to it.

Its guidelines require that apps do not contain upsetting or offensive content and it told The National it is still reviewing it.

A spokesperson said: “We are reviewing Euro Fatwa again for possible violations of our guidelines and, if we find content that violates our guidelines and is harmful to users, we will notify the developer and may remove it from the store.”

The Leeds Grand Mosque, which is linked to the ECFR and Al Qaradawi, had been continuing to promote it on its website urging people to download it and to “spread the word wide and far” until it was contacted by The National on Monday.

A spokesperson for the Mosque said: “The Leeds Grand Mosque does not condone any violence or hatred towards any race or religion.

“We have decided to temporarily take down our web-page to undertake further investigations into the matter.”

The present head of ECFR is Dr Abdullah Al Judai, a scholar at the Leeds Grand Mosque.

He replaced Al Qaradawi as head in December.

Campaigners have repeatedly highlighted the dangers of Al Qaradawi’s web and social media presence for creating extremists. “What makes Qaradawi unique from other extremists are the ways in which his presence is condoned by social media, specifically through Facebook and Twitter’s verified user checkmark,” said Counter-Extremism Project researcher Joshua Fisher-Birch earlier this year.

The ECFR is based in Dublin and launched the app last month ahead of Ramadan, describing it as a guide for Muslims based in Europe.

Ian Paisley, a British member of parliament, has described the app as “dangerous” and called on the country's home secretary Sajid Javid to ban it and to launch an urgent enquiry into the Muslim Brotherhood.

In the letter, he said: “It’s essential that the UK continues to lead the fight against extremist ideology and we co-operate with our neighbours to maximise this.

“A number of MPs have previously raised issues to do with the spread of extremist ideology and activity by the Muslim Brotherhood.

“It has come to our attention that Muslim Brotherhood has launched the Fatwa App in Dublin...to educate and exploit the vulnerable.

“The App is organised and run by Yusuf Al Qaradawi who was previously banned from the UK but appears to be active in Dublin.

“This dangerous App is inciting violence and hatred in the UK and acting with impunity. We need the UK authorities to act and insist that Dublin closes down this resource and activity.”

Last month a picture emerged of Al Qaradawi next to Moulvi Zahran Hashim, the man believed to be the mastermind behind the Sri Lanka terror attacks which killed more than 250 people.

The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt spotlighted Al Qaradawi’s role as a terrorist supported by Qatar as the four countries announced a boycott of the Gulf state in 2017. The four began their boycott of Qatar because of its support for terrorism and harbouring supporters of extremism, such as Al Qaradawi.

The four began their boycott of Qatar because of its support for terrorism and harbouring supporters of extremism, such as Al Qaradawi.

The Egyptian-born imam has defended violence against US troops in Iraq and regularly delivered vehement lectures against the West on Qatari television.

The US has sanctioned the charity that he chaired, the Union of Good, as a foreign terrorist organisation.

France and Britain prevented his entry in 2012 because he advocated for suicide bomb attacks against Israelis.

He has also previously suggested that the Holocaust was "divine punishment" against Jews and called for Israel's destruction.

UAE Minister and ambassador to the US, Yousef Al Otaiba, has condemned him for promoting suicide bombings and the killings of American soldiers.

Updated: May 13, 2019 08:23 PM

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