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memri
February 3, 2009 No.
2209

Prominent Sunni Sheikh Al-Qaradhawi, Banned in U.S., Opens Washington D.C. Office of Islamist News Organization, Says It (IslamOnline) Is "The Jihad of Our Era"

On December 27, 2008, the Islamist news organization Islamonline.net (IOL), which is overseen by prominent Sunni sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, announced that it had opened an office in Washington, D.C. Following is information about the new office, and about Sheikh Al-Qaradhawi's connection to it:

IOL "Aims to Contribute to Projecting Much-Needed True Image of Muslims"

According to the announcement, the new Washington office, located in the National Press Building, was opened "in an effort to reach out to its wider audience and larger readership."

IOL English managing editor Muhammad Zidan said, "This new office stands as a step forward in realizing part of the aims and objectives of IOL – that is, promoting awareness about important events in the Arab, Muslim and larger world, in addition to providing services to Muslims and non-Muslims in several languages."[1]

Acting Bureau Chief Ossama El-Shamy said that he would put all his efforts into guaranteeing the success and growth of IOL presence in, and coverage of, the U.S.

Kamal Badr, IOL English website editor-in-chief, said, "In a true sense, America can be called a multicultural and multi-ethnic society. It is full of activities with interests to Muslims... Here in Washington D.C., one has direct access to important activities and personalities that will definitely enhance our coverage. [The] Washington office is a step in a proper direction for the English website, in a sense that it will further provide it a solid media ground in the strategic areas for its international coverage."

The announcement added that IOL "aims to contribute to projecting the much-needed true image of Muslims."

Zidan said, "U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has proved that if there are persistent efforts, there can be a change... Islam has a universal appeal. We invite all the people, whether Muslims or non-Muslims, to come forward and express their views from [the] IOL platform."[2]

IOL Founded, Supported, Supervised By Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi

IOL was, according to PBS, founded by prominent Sunni sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi.[3] In its early stages, Sheikh Al-Qaradhawi personally "adopted" IOL,[4] supported it, and supervised it, and, according to The Guardian, it has remained under his supervision.[5] Al-Qaradawi has promoted IOL in the media, especially on his weekly Al-Jazeera TV program.[6]

Al-Qaradhawi, who is banned from entering the U.S. and the U.K.,[7] is among the top spiritual leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, and serves as a spiritual guide for many other Islamist organizations across the world. He heads the European Council for Fatwa and Research, and is founder and director of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS).[8]

Al-Qaradhawi's activity in recent months has included preaching against Shi'ites and the spread of the Shi'a in the Sunni Arab world.[9] Most recently, in his Friday sermon of January 9, 2009 he promoted boycotting U.S. goods, including the Starbucks chain, as well as the U.K. chain Marks and Spencer, stressing to his audience, "[P]ut the boycott against the nation's enemies into action. Every riyal you pay turns into a bullet in the heart of your brothers in Gaza and in other Islamic countries." In the same sermon, he also said, "Oh Allah, take this oppressive, Jewish, Zionist band of people... and kill them, down to the very last one.'"[10]

Al-Qaradhawi: IOL is "The Jihad of Our Era"

According to Arab Media and Society, a publication of the Middle East Centre of St. Antony's College, Oxford University, and the Kamal Adham Center for Journalism Training and Research at The American University in Cairo, IOL is "one of the most-visited Arabic/English Islamic web portals which issue fatwas." In a promotional brochure for IOL, Sheikh Al-Qaradhawi said of its mission: "This project is neither nationalistic nor one aiming at a grouping or a group of people; it is a project for the entire Islamic community. It is the jihad of our era."[11]

Al-Qaradhawi: IOL A Means "To Carry This Religion to All People Around the World"

In a speech posted on the website, Al-Qaradhawi stressed IOL as a means of fulfilling the obligation "to carry this religion to all people around the world... We [have already] used print, radio, and television. Today, there is a new medium known as the Internet. All religions have used it to call to their religions and sects. It is the duty of the Muslims to use this tool to call to their great religion, which God has granted them with, and leave others – who have lost their way – to call it... This is what this major, global project – Islam Online – is doing. It carries the message of Islam to the world."


Endnotes:

[1] http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1230121266417&pagename=Zone-English-News/NWELayout

[2] http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1230121266417&pagename=Zone-English-News/NWELayout

[3] http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/episodes/january-9-2009/islam-and-modernity/1880/

[4] According to Dr. Hamid Al-Ansari, as quoted in Arab Media and Society (U.K. and Egypt), January 2008, http://www.arabmediasociety.com/index.php?article=576&printarticle#_ednref1.

[5] http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2005/jan/25/worlddispatch.brianwhitaker .

[6] Arab Media and Society (U.K. and Egypt), January 2008, http://www.arabmediasociety.com/index.php?article=576&printarticle#_ednref1.

[7] MEMRI: Special Report No. 30, "Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi in London to Establish 'The International Council of Muslim Clerics,'" July 8, 2004, Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi in London to Establish 'The International Council of Muslim Clerics'; MEMRI: Special Dispatch No. 2162, December 29, 2008, Syrian Jihadist Scholar Abu Basir Al-Tartusi: Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi is an Apostate.

[8] MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 2183, "Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi On Al-Jazeera Incites Against Jews, Arab Regimes, and the U.S.; Calls on Muslims to Boycott Starbucks and Others; Says 'Oh Allah, Take This Oppressive, Jewish, Zionist Band of People... And Kill Them, Down to the Very Last One,'" January 12, 2009, Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi on Al-Jazeera Incites Against Jews, Arab Regimes, and the U.S.; Calls on Muslims to Boycott Starbucks and Others; Says 'Oh Allah, Take This Oppressive, Jewish, Zionist Band of People... And Kill Them, Down to the Very Last One'.

[9] MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 481,"Recent Rise in Sunni–Shi'ite Tension (Part II): Anti-Shi'ite Statements by Sheikh Al-Qaradhawi," December 16, 2008, Recent Rise in Sunni–Shi'ite Tension (Part II): Anti-Shi'ite Statements by Sheikh Al-Qaradhawi;

MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 2080, "Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi in Interview With Egyptian Daily: Mubarak Should Step Down and Should Not Pass Presidency to Gamal; The Spread of the Shi'a Is A Danger," October 16, 2008, Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi in Interview With Egyptian Daily: Mubarak Should Step Down and Should Not Pass Presidency to Gamal; The Spread of the Shi'a Is A Danger.

[10] MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 2183, "Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi on Al-Jazeera Incites Against Jews, Arab Regimes, and the U.S.; Calls on Muslims to Boycott Starbucks and Others; Says 'Oh Allah, Take This Oppressive, Jewish, Zionist Band of People... And Kill Them, Down to the Very Last One'" January 12, 2009.

[11] Brochure, printed on the occasion of the IOL's first anniversary and distributed at the 2000 Cairo book fair: Mashru' al-umma fi-l-qarn al-hadi wa-l-'ashrin. IslamOnline. Uktubir 1999-uktubir 2000 (Project of the Islamic community in the 21st century. IslamOnline. October 1999-2000).) As cited in Arab Media and Society (U.K. and Egypt), January 2008 http://www.arabmediasociety.com/index.php?article=576&printarticle#_ednref1.