Palestinian passport given to Qaradawi as honor

Palestinian passport given to Qaradawi as honor
Fri May 10, 2013 22:09:41

Qatari Mufti Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi paid a visit to the besieged Gaza Strip, where senior Hamas officials warned against creation of a big crisis similar to what happened when Qatari emir visited the enclave in October.

According to sources close to Hamas government in Gaza Qaradawi was not warmly welcomed because prominent Hamas figures declined to attend a welcoming ceremony.

Although Hamas premier Ismail Haniyeh welcomed al-Qaradawi’s visit, calling it a “historic” event, the Palestinian Authority and other Palestinian groups condemned the Qatari scholar for his controversial political and religious views.

Haniyeh honored Qaradawi by granting him Palestinian citizenship and a passport.

Qaradawi, the chairman of the International Federation of Muslim Clerics is based in Qatar and has been a vociferous supporter of the revolutions that have shaken the Arab countries in the last two years, bringing new governments to Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.

Soon after arriving in the Gaza Strip, the 87-year-old Egyptian-born cleric called on Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims to work together to bring about the downfall of Israel.

"Our wish should be that we carry out Jihad to death," said Qaradawi, who has gained a large following in the Muslim world thanks to regular appearances on Al Jazeera television.


Qaradawi warned on Thursday nobody was allowed to cede "any part of Palestine," during a visit to the Hamas-ruled Palestinian enclave of Gaza.

Egyptian-born Qaradawi, who is a citizen of Qatar and close to the Muslim Brotherhood, was heading of a delegation of 50 clerics from 14 countries.

Qaradawi’s statements are seen as an attempt by the Muslim cleric to mend what’s been broken by Doha last month, when Qatar suggested Arab acceptance of peace initiative’s amendment to include land swaps between Israel and a future Palestinian state.


Hamas fought a brief civil war against Abbas's Fatah faction in 2007 and swiftly gained full control of Gaza. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who holds sway over parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, argues that foreign visits to Gaza undermine his own position as leader of the Palestinian people.

The PA leadership has come out against Qaradawi’s visit to the Gaza Strip, saying it would harm Palestinian interests and deepen the split between Hamas and Fatah.

“We do not welcome this visit,” said Mahmoud Habbash, the PA minister for Wakf affairs.

“This is a visit that carries political dimensions and is intended to recognize as legitimate Hamas’s rule in the Gaza Strip.”

Mahmoud al-Habbash, the Palestinian minister of religious affairs, based in the West Bank, said Qaradawi's visit would reinforce internal divisions and support the "separatist entity" Hamas had established in Gaza.

Fatah supporters shunned the reception thrown for Qaradawi.

The Fatah-affiliated Palestinian Journalists Syndicate in the West Bank called on its members to boycott Qaradawi’s visit and to refrain from covering his activities in the Gaza Strip.

Israel, which has imposed a blockade on Gaza in a stated attempt to prevent weapons reaching Hamas, had no immediate comment on Qaradawi's arrival. He is due to leave Gaza on Saturday.

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