A front page New York Times article once presented him as a moderate for approving the rights of Arab women to vote in local elections. Indeed, the 40 million viewers to the 84-year-old Islamic cleric’s weekly TV program, “Sharia and Life” -- Al-Jazeera’s most highly rated show -- vaulted him beyond the Muslim “Dear Abby” to iconic status throughout the Muslim world and beyond.
Now, the long-exiled spiritual head of the Muslim Brotherhood has returned triumphantly to Egypt, where he spoke to 2 million jubilant celebrants. Yusuf al-Qaradawi declared that the revolution had been a triumph over sectarianism. "Here in Tahrir, the Christian and Muslim stood side by side. This cursed strife is no more…This revolution has to have been victorious over the pharaoh. When Egypt believes, it challenges the pharaoh."
Then Qaradawi urged the Egyptian Army to “liberate” Egypt from government ministers who were appointed by President Hosni Mubarak, adding a warning to the government: "We do not want to see these faces linked to corruption and violence and camels, killing people."
And then addressing the tens of millions of young Egyptians, he added:
"I say to the youth, protect the revolution and protect its unity. Beware of those who want to divide our ranks and those who want to corrupt your brotherhood."
But what plans does Qaradawi have for Egypt’s youth?
First, it’s not clear when The Muslim Brotherhood embraced democracy. As late as 1981, Brotherhood leader Mustapha Mashour declared: “Democracy contradicts and wages war on Islam. Whoever calls for democracy means they are raising banner’s contradicting God’s plan and fighting Islam.” As for religious plurality, Qaradawi’s Muslim Brotherhood is a clear threat to Egypt’s embattled Coptic Christian minority.
In the Muslim Brotherhood’s version of “Islamic democracy,” homosexuality is a perversion punishable by death, and adultery by stoning. Asked about executing gays, Qaradawi said this on Al-Jazeera: “The scholars of Islam, such as Malik, Ash-Shafi`i, Ahmad and Ishaaq said that (the person guilty of this crime) should be stoned, whether he is married or unmarried.”
Last week was the ninth anniversary of the death of Daniel Pearl, The Wall Street Journal reporter murdered by Islamist fanatics. Three months before his death, Pearl interviewed Qaradawi and asked about a spate of suicide bombings against Israeli civilians. The Sheik’s cruel reply: “Israeli society in general is armed,” implying that all Israelis are fair game for terror. We have the ‘children bomb,’ and these human bombs must continue until liberation,” he told an audience in 2002. Qaradawi also posted a fatwa online, allowing women to become suicide bombers against Israel without seeking permission from their husbands. Later, he was quoted as allowing terror attacks targeting American civilian workers in Iraq.
Qaradawi has never hidden his genocidal malice against the Jewish nation:
On Hitler’s Final Solution:
“Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the [Jews] who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them -- even though they exaggerated this issue -- he managed to put them in their place.”
On Interfaith Dialogue:
“There is no dialogue between us [Muslims and Jews] except by the sword and rifle,” [We pray] to Allah “to take this oppressive Jewish, Zionist band of people . . . do not spare a single one of them . . . count their numbers and kill them down to the very last one.”
Qaradawi offered this prayer during the 2009 Gaza conflict:
“Oh Allah, take your enemies, the enemies of Islam. Oh Allah, take the Jews, the treacherous aggressors. Oh Allah, take this profligate, cunning, arrogant band of people. Oh Allah, they have spread much tyranny and corruption in the land. Pour Your wrath upon them, Oh our God. Lie in wait for them…You destroyed the Pharaoh and his soldiers -- Oh Allah, take this oppressive, tyrannical band of people. Oh Allah, take this oppressive, Jewish Zionist band of people. Oh Allah, do not spare a single one of them. Oh Allah, count their numbers, and kill them, down to the very last one.”
Every civilized person cheered the Egyptian people’s courageous 18-day revolution. But if their sacrifice is ultimately hijacked by Qaradawi and company, woe to the young victors of Tahrir Square and woe to us all.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper is the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.