A few weeks after making controversial statements against both Algeria and Mauritania that were broadly condemned,  the president of the Qatar-funded International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), Ahmad Al-Raysuni, submitted his resignation. In his August 28, 2022 resignation letter, he stated that his decision was based on his "uncompromising, determined, firm stance and commitment" to his views, adding that he was stepping down in order to be able to exercise his "freedom of expression without conditions and pressure."
In response to his resignation, several experts on Islamist groups predicted that his likely successor is current IUMS secretary-general 'Ali Al-Qaradaghi. They described Al-Qaradaghi, a Qatari citizen of Kurdish Iraqi origin, as "a loyalist" of Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradawi, and a "supporter" of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The following is a review of these experts' statements on Al-Qaradaghi and of Al-Qaradaghi's controversial statements.
Experts On Islamist Groups Talk About Al-Qaradaghi
In an interview published August 28, 2022 by the UAE-based online newspaper Al-'Ain Al-Ikjbariyyah, Egyptian researcher and expert on Islamist groups Omar Farouq said that Al-Qaradaghi was likely to succeed Al-Raysuni as president of the IUMS "because of his closeness to Al-Qaradawi and the Muslim Brotherhood." He further described Al-Qaradaghi as "the first replacement [of Al-Raysuni], and the most favored, since he is considered to be one of those who are very close to Al-Qaradawi, and is as well a Muslim Brotherhood figure who fiercely defends that organization."
Nabeel Abd Al-Fatah, another Egyptian expert on Islamist groups, also said that Al-Qaradaghi was most likely to become IUMS president, because the organization "leans towards diversifying [the origins] of its presidents, which is a political consideration, and if Al-Qaradaghi is selected, it might be [because] the IUMS wants to show the Kurdish ruling classes in northern Iraq that the union does not restrict its presidency to Arabs and that its primary standard is Islamic affiliation."
SUPPORT OUR WORK
Highlighting Al-Qaradaghi's significance and his ties with Al-Qaradawi, Iraqi author Rasheed Al-Khayyun noted that he had attempted to convince the authorities in Kurdistan to allow Al-Qaradawi to visit but had not succeeded due to fatwas he had issued in support of terrorism in Iraq. According to Al-Khayyun, Al-Qaradaghi, like other political Islamist figures and Muslim Brotherhood members, focuses his efforts on charity organizations, saying that he owns both a charity organization and a university in Kurdistan. Downplaying Al-Qaradaghi's significance, he added that he only came to prominence because of his relationship with Al-Qaradawi and his position at the IUMS, and that he is not a prominent religious scholar.
Examples Of Al-Qaradaghi's Controversial Statements and Positions
On May 19, 2022, following the refusal by Muslim Senegalese soccer player Idrissa Gana Gueye, who plays for Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), to wear the shirt with the rainbow symbol that was part of a campaign by the French Football Federation, Al-Qaradaghi tweeted: "I applaud his honorable stance, which stems from values and morality. Principles are greater and nobler than [personal] interests, fame and the like..."
Al-Qaradaghi is also known for his support of jihad and martyrdom and his demonization of the West. At a May 2021 rally in the Qatari capital Doha, which was attended by Hamas political bureau head Isma'il Haniya, he said: "We have convened here today for the sake of the oppressed in Gaza, [who are] the emblem of honor, courage and sacrifice. We see that a procession of heroic martyrs, including women and children, has joined the martyrs who have gone before... They watered the blessed soil with their pure blood and nurtured the tree of jihad and resistance against the usurping occupiers. This will be the beginning of the uprising and victory, with Allah's help."
He added: "We, religious scholars of the [Islamic] nation and of Qatar... and [all the participants at] this large conference, which represents the people of Qatar and most of the peoples of the Islamic world – [all] support, with everything we have, our first and foremost cause [i.e. the Palestinian cause], in Al-Aqsa, in Jerusalem, in honorable Gaza, in the [West] Bank, and in Palestine, which is rising up. We stand with the defenders [of Al-Aqsa], with the fighters of the resistance, the murabitoun and murabitat, with everything we have, and say, 'With spirit and blood we shall redeem you, Al-Aqsa'...
In response to the October 2020 beheading murder of French history teacher Samuel Paty, Al-Qaradaghi claimed that the crime had been planned and staged by the French authorities in order to accuse Islam of terrorism, and added that "the real murderer is still alive."
Opposing the Trump administration's "Deal of the Century" peace plan, Al-Qaradaghi also stated in January 2020 that it is the religious duty of every Muslim to oppose the plan by every means and to make sacrifices in order to thwart it.
 See MEMRI Special Dispatch, Condemning Moroccan Scholar Ahmad Al-Raysuni's Call For 'Jihad' Against Algeria, Muslim Scholars Say He Should Instead Have Called For Jihad Against Israel Or Liberating Ceuta and Melilla From Spain, August 25, 2022
 Al-ain.com/article/brotherhood-raissouni-coffin, August 29, 2022
 Alhurra.com/arabic-and-international/2022/08/29, August 29, 2022.
 Youtube.com/watch?v=tNeBKtnPcaM&t=228s, February 14, 2019
 Twitter.com/Ali_AlQaradaghi, May 19, 2022.
 See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis, As Qatar Mediates Between Israel And Hamas, It Holds Mass Rally For Hamas In Doha Supporting Armed Struggle And Jihad Against Israel – Participants Included Hamas Political Bureau Head Isma'il Haniya, May 21, 2021.
 See MEMRI Special Dispatch Secretary-General Of International Union of Muslim Scholars, 'Ali Al-Qaradaghi, Resumes Jihadi Incitement: Claims Murder Of French Teacher Was Staged By French Authorities And Real Killer Is Still Alive, October 20, 2020
 See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis, Qatar, Qatar-Backed International Union Of Muslim Scholars Blast Trump's Peace Plan: It Belongs In the Dustbin Of History, Must Be Opposed By Every Possible Means, February 5, 2020.