x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Qatar-based cleric Qaradawi warns of Egypt ‘catastrophe’

Youssef Al Qaradawi, an Egyptian-born cleric and a spiritual guide the Muslim Brotherhood, tells conference in Doha that Egyptian presidential front-runner Abdel Fattah El Sisi will only bring downfall to the country.

Egyptian cleric Youssef al-Qaradawi said at a conference organised by an association of Muslim scholars in Doha that presidential front-runner Abdel Fattah El Sisi will bring downfall to the country. AFP Photo
Egyptian cleric Youssef al-Qaradawi said at a conference organised by an association of Muslim scholars in Doha that presidential front-runner Abdel Fattah El Sisi will bring downfall to the country. AFP Photo

DOHA // An Qatar-based Islamist whose fiery sermons have caused tension between Arabian Gulf states said on Sunday that Egyptian presidential front-runner Abdel Fattah El Sisi will only bring downfall to the country.

Youssef Al Qaradawi, an Egyptian-born cleric and a spiritual guide the Muslim Brotherhood, has always been critical of Egypt’s military rule and Mr El Sisi, who as army chief was behind the ousting of Islamist Mohammed Morsi from the presidency last July after a popular uprising.

Qaradawi said Israeli leaders supported having Mr El Sisi win the upcoming presidential elections, saying that he protects Israel’s interests and will not go into confrontation with them over the Palestinian issue.

“You have people like Ehud Barak (Israel’s defence minister) saying, Vote for Sisi, Sisi is our man, he is our Sisi not your Sisi,” Qaradawi said late on Sunday at a conference that was organised by an association of Muslim scholars in Doha.

Mr Sisi is expected to easily win the presidential election late this month. The only other candidate is leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi, who came third in the 2012 election won by Mr Morsi.

“From the day he (Sisi) came, all we saw is killing and bloodshed, detention and women being raped,” said Qaradawi. “Egypt is losing everything my brothers; this is a huge catastrophe,” he added.

Qardawi’s comments have contributed to a major rift in political relations between Qatar and its Gulf neighbours.

On March 5, in an unprecedented move, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain recalled their ambassadors from Qatar, accusing Doha of failing to abide by an accord not to interfere in each others’ internal affairs. Qatar denies the charge.

The three states were especially angry over Qatar’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist movement that reveres Qaradawi.

Since then, Qaradawi has refrained from delivering sermons on Fridays. However, Sunday’s conference proved that the ageing cleric has not been deterred from criticising Egypt’s affairs.

In April, asked if he had plans to leave Qatar to ease pressure on the government, Qaradawi, a naturalised Qatari citizen, said he would do no such thing.

“We must all stand by Qatar and it’s Emir and the father Emir, Qatar stands by what’s rightful and defends the causes of the Arab world, God be with Qatar.”

*Reuters