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Monday, February 21, 2011

Daily MSM review (David G): The wonderfully moderate Qaradawi

Today's review of the major media, by David G:



About 24 hours after Elder of Ziyon wrote about the impending return of Youssef el-Qaradawi, the Washington Post and New York Times first covered him. These articles were in the context of reports on the demonstration he headlined Friday.

The Washington Post did not mention Qaradawi's name at first.
 The demonstration, billed as a "Day of Victory and Continuation," came a day after three senior government officials and a wealthy industrialist who were close to Mubarak and were members of the ruling party were arrested on suspicion of corruption, money laundering and the misuse of public funds. Prosecutors are investigating the allegations, state television reported. 
 Qaradawi was only mentioned at the end.

In Tahrir, or Liberation, Square on Friday, a troupe of men wearing black T-shirts danced and sang in celebration of the arrests. Makeshift placards and banners held up by the crowd proclaimed the end of Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule and called on the generals to pursue all corrupt officials, revise the constitution and make Egypt a democracy.  
"Our demands are clear as the sun," read a sign held by Marway el-Rawy, a 23-year-old woman. 
Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a renowned Islamic scholar, presided over Friday prayers in the square, the heart of the revolt.  
He called on the military to dismantle the current government and then said that the square should be renamed "Martyrs' Square" for the more than 330 people who were killed there. 

There would seem to be some conflict between the democracy protesters and the proposal to change "Tahrir Square" to "Martyr's Square." To report that he simply "presided over prayers" seems to be conciously downplaying his role at the demonstration. The CSM reported:

Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a leading Egyptian Islamic theologian popularized by Al Jazeera, returned to Cairo today to deliver a stirring but overtly political sermon, calling on Egyptians to preserve national unity as they press for democratic progress.

The CSM's reporter used "stirring" several times and at the end does his best to frame Qaradawi as moderate. Still the opening paragraph makes it clear that Qaradawi's role was to speak not simply to preside over prayers.

Qaradawi has often been a controversial figure in the West – he was banned from traveling to the US because of his support for attacks on US troops in Iraq, for instance – but is very much in the Sunni Islamic mainstream. 
When former Monitor reporter Jill Carroll was kidnapped in Iraq in 2006, Qaradawi issued a religious ruling reiterating his position that the kidnapping and murder of civilians is sinful and called for her immediate release. 

i.e. He's only controversial in the West but he's mainstream Sunni. Plus he differentiates between soldiers and civilians. Needless to say there's a lot more to Qaradawi, and it isn't particularly moderate.

The New York Times first reported on Qaradawi's return as part of a longer article about the region.

Mr. Qaradawi, who returned Thursday night from three decades in exile, spoke at a combination victory rally and democracy demonstration that brought hundreds of thousands of Egyptians back to the epicenter of the revolution that toppled Mr. Mubarak. State television, which until Mr. Mubarak’s departure last Friday had consistently belittled the crowds in the square, put attendance at two million. 

Calling the demonstration one of "democracy" goes beyond the title of the gathering, which was of "victory and continuation."

In a second article focused on Sheikh Qaradawi, by David Kirkpatrick, it is clear that the Times is interested in boosting his "moderate" credentials.

Sheik Qaradawi, a popular television cleric whose program reaches an audience of tens of millions worldwide, addressed a rapt audience of more than a million Egyptians gathered in Tahrir Square to celebrate the uprising and honor those who died. 

"Popular television ..." just like Oprah!
 On Friday, he struck themes of democracy and pluralism, long hallmarks of his writing and preaching. He began his sermon by saying that he was discarding the customary opening “Oh Muslims,” in favor of “Oh Muslims and Copts,” referring to Egypt’s Coptic Christian minority. He praised Muslims and Christians for standing together in Egypt’s revolution and even lauded the Coptic Christian “martyrs” who once fought the Romans and Byzantines. “I invite you to bow down in prayer together,” he said. 
He's a pluralist!
 Scholars who have studied his work say Sheik Qaradawi has long argued that Islamic law supports the idea of a pluralistic, multiparty, civil democracy. 
 Scholars agree!

But he has made exceptions for violence against Israel or the American forces in Iraq. “You call it violence; I call it resistance,” said Prof. Emad Shahin of the University of Notre Dame, an Egyptian scholar who has studied Sheik Qaradawi’s work and was in Tahrir Square for his speech Friday. 

"You call it violence; I call it resistance." You say "to-may-to"; I say "to-mah-to."

While Qaradawi's hate of America and the United States was noted in the first paragraph the lengths the reporter, David Kirkpatrick goes to portray as a moderate is really rather disturbing.

The Lede (not by Robert Mackey in this case) also has something on the Sheikh observing:

 In an interview with The Guardian a few years ago, he expounded on some of his views, including his distaste for homosexuality and his belief that wives should be beaten only as a last resort, and even then just "lightly."
I'm sure that wives the world over will regard that as enlightened.

Still the Lede too, emphasizes the Kirkpatrick article on how "moderate" Qaradawi is.



Just going through the archives, here are some of Qaradawi's "moderate" hits:

Calling on Muslims to "cleanse" Palestine
Refusing to attend an interfaith conference because it has Jews
Condemning Muslims wanting to visit Al Aqsa Mosque while Israel is there
Calling on the PLO to return to terrorism (and the PLO's hilarious response)
Plus, a little Jew hatred for fun as he wrote the introduction to a biography of a major terrorist.