Following are excerpts from an interview with Egyptian cleric Wagdi Ghneim, which aired on Al-Jazeera TV on January 12, 2009.
Interviewer: We are used to seeing you in certain clothing, but today, you are wearing what looks like an army uniform. Why?
Wagdi Ghneim: I wanted to hold a submachine gun as well, but didn't know where to get one. I wanted to show you that although we are preachers and Islamic scholars, we are the leaders of the nation as well. Just as we lead the nation with regard to ablution and prayer, people need to see us on the scene in times of Jihad. Brother, I tell you with all honesty that this is not where I should be. My place is not in the studio, with a suit and tie, or in the university, lecturing about ablutions. No, my brother. My natural place is in Palestine. This should be true for all of us. The religious scholars should lead the way. People follow us, and we say: Come to Jihad" – because we are the nation of Jihad.
Some religious scholars feel ashamed to utter the word "Jihad," because anybody who uses that word today is labeled a terrorist. No way! If anybody calls me a terrorist, I stick a finger in his eye, and say: "You are the enemy of Allah."
Take a look at the representatives of Islam and the Muslims. They greet the criminals who are killing our sons, our wives, and our children, who are destroying our mosques, and occupying our sacred land. They greet them - and with what friendliness and love! They kiss them – not just a regular kiss... It's more like sucking than kissing. May Allah send you to the same place as them. Do you love them so much that you talk to them, kiss them, and hug them?
I was filled with pride when I heard the speech of my brother Ismail Haniya. I was proud of him even beforehand. Have you ever seen a prime minister who delivers Friday sermons, and who quotes the Koran and hadiths by heart? Some rulers have their quotations written down for them, but still make mistakes. [Haniya] quotes the Koran and hadiths, he prostrates himself in public. He sits on the ground – I have his picture. I've seen the furniture in his home – mine is better. I've seen his son play with his Playstation – even my son has a better version. This is the man who is fighting today. This is our role model.
Interviewer: Some people in various Arab and Islamic countries – including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, and Malaysia – are calling to boycott American and Israeli products. Do you think this is an effective weapon?
Wagdi Ghneim: Of course, it is a very strong weapon! [In the West], my dear brother, they know no God. The god of America is the dollar, and the god of Europe is the euro. These people have no religion... When an American wakes up in the morning, he cares about two things only – whether the stores are full of products, and what the price of gas is. That's it. Nothing else interests him. There are people [in America] who do not know where Iraq is, or what the names of the Arab countries are. Once, they conducted a survey – I don't remember the exact figures – but they did not know the name of their president. They were asked who their president was, and they said that they didn't know.