Arab News embarked a week ago on a campaign to expose Preachers of Hate worldwide.
We began with a profile of Brenton Tarrant, the Australian terrorist who attacked two mosques in New Zealand and killed 50 innocent worshippers. We delved deep, and revealed how he was radicalized by far-right, white-supremacist ideology.
We published a profile of Terry Jones, the American pastor who called for the burning of the Qur’an and incited hate against Muslims in America and elsewhere. We also pledged that our series would exempt no religion, no nationality, no political view; it would include Muslims and preachers from Saudi Arabia, where this newspaper is published.
We have received a wide range of responses. We welcome them all, and take all concerns seriously. The most curious reaction, however, has come from Qatari-backed journalists, and from Yusuf Al-Qaradawi — the Doha-based preacher whose ludicrous fatwas we promised to expose, and the hate-monger who is the subject of our profile today.
“As for Al-Qaradawi’s claim that he stands against extremism? Well, today may be April 1 ... but we are no fools.”
Faisal J. Abbas
A few days after the launch of our series, Al-Qaradawi felt the urge to defend himself. He tweeted on March 27 that for the past 25 years he had been “occupied in standing up to extremists and extremism.” This is not only absurd, but as our profile today illustrates, it could not be farther from the truth. We have documented fatwas, TV appearances and Al-Qaradawi’s own words in which he calls for death to Jews, defends suicide attacks and justifies men beating women.
Elsewhere, pro-Qatari writers have suggested in Western media outlets that Arab governments are forming alliances with the far right in the West, encouraging Islamophobia to justify repression of their own people at home.
Seriously? What would these “intellectuals” prefer? Do they propose that Arab and Muslim governments give extremists a free ride just because they, too, are Arab and Muslim? On the contrary, for the fight against extremism to succeed, Muslims must go after all those who commit terror in the name of Islam, just as the admirable New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was the first to label Brenton Tarrant what he is — a terrorist.
Some will also say that Arab News is targeting Al-Qaradawi because of his closeness to the ruling family in Qatar, a country that Saudi Arabia (with the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt) has boycotted over its terror ties. This is simply not true: Al-Qaradawi was a Preacher of Hate before the boycott began in June 2017, he has been a Preacher of Hate throughout its duration, and he will remain a Preacher of Hate if and when the boycott ends.
As for Al-Qaradawi’s claim that he stands against extremism? Well, today may be April 1 ... but we are no fools.