CAIRO – Under government pressures, Egypt’s state television has scrapped plans for hosting prominent Muslim scholar Yusuf Al-Qaradawi following his Friday prayers sermon from Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
“Some government officials considered the Friday sermon too strong,” Qaradawi, the president of the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS), told OnIslam.net in exclusive statements.
“They would not bear a second powerful speech.”
Qaradawi delivered the weekly sermon on Friday, February 18 from Tahrir Square, where nearly five million Egyptians gathered to celebrate the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.
The sermon was broadcast by the state television, Qaradawi’s first appearance on the Egyptian TV in decades.
During the sermon, the prominent scholar called on Egyptians, both Muslims and Christians, to be proud of their country after ousting Mubarak, who had ruled Egypt for 30 years.
He also praised the armed forces’ position on protecting the revolution, calling on them to open Rafah border with Gaza strip.
After the sermon, Qaradawi, an Egyptian, was invited to appear on the Egyptian television on Sunday on the prime-time program “Egypt Today”.
But shortly, the prominent scholar received a phone call from the program’s anchor apologizing for not shooting the program.
“I don’t know who was exactly behind banning Sheikh Qaradawi from appearing on the state television,” a source close to the prominent scholar said.
A source in “Egypt Today” program cited “procedural reasons” for banning Qaradawi’s appearance.
Qaradawi dismissed accusations that his weekly sermon aimed at establishing a religious state in Egypt.
“On the contrary, my speech supported establishing a civil state with a religious background,” he has told Al-Ahram newspaper.
“I am totally against theocracy. We are not a state for mullahs.”
Some critics compared the return of Qaradawi, who has been living in Qatar, to Egypt as Ayatollah Ruhollah Ghomeini to Iran from France after the 1979 revolution.
“I only came to celebrate the revolution,” said Qaradawi.
Qaradawi has been a vocal critic of the Mubarak’s regime and has vehemently supported the protests against the aging leader.
The IUMS president said that he was not planning to settle in Egypt for now.
“Egypt is not far from me and it has never been even in the worst conditions,” he said.
“At present, I have many scientific projects in Doha.”
Qaradawi was born in the Egyptian governorate of Al-Gharbiya, west of Cairo, on September 9, 1926.
He studied at Al-Azhar and graduated at the top of his class in the Faculty of Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence in 1953.
In 1963, he was appointed at the Ministry of Awkaf (religious endowments) and was shortly dispatched to Qatar, where he decided to spend the rest of his life.
The prominent scholar has published dozens of books, chiefly The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam.
He is known for his moderate views and considered to be one of the most influential scholars in the Muslim world.
Qaradawi dismissed claims that he was still a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.
“I’ve totally defected from the Muslim Brotherhood and have rejected many calls to be appointed as the group’s guide general guide,” he said.
“I hope to serve as a guide for the whole nation and not for a certain group.”
The prominent scholar denied reports that his “guards” had prevented Google executive and activist Wael Ghonim from taking the podium in Tahrir Square.
“I have no guards, I only brought my sons with me,” Qaradawi said.
“I rejected many requests by scholars to send guards to protect me. Allah is my guard.”
Media reports claimed that Ghonim, who emerged as a leading youth figure in the Egyptian revolution, had been prevented by Qaradawi’s guards from speaking to the celebrators.
Qaradawi said he neither organize the celebration nor prevent anyone from going on stage.
“I was surrounded by youth who cordoned me to protect me from the huge crowds,” he said.
“I would have been glad if I met this young man [Ghonim] who initiated the 25 January revolution.“I have praised him in a TV program when he was released from the prison. So how can I prevent him? I was only a guest in the celebrations.”