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Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an influential Muslim Brotherhood theologian, promises to be in Egypt’s Tahrir Square to deliver a sermon at Friday’s prayer service.
Qaradawi, who has lived in Qatar since 1961, was a vocal critic of deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. A profile this week in Germany’s Der Spiegel called him the Muslim Brotherhood’s “father figure.”
But his return is being touted as a reward for “Qaradawi’s role in mobilizing support for the Egyptian revolution,” a claim which is questionable at best.
It won’t be the first time Qaradawi has been back to Egypt, but his visits have been fleeting. A sermon from him on the first Friday after Mubarak’s ouster could be hugely symbolic as the Brotherhood tries to exert influence over the direction Egyptian society takes. And it will trigger memories of the 1979 Iranian revolution, which took a dramatic turn when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned from exile in France.
Egypt’s revolution has been described as largely spontaneous, fueled by a building rage brought on by years of oppression, inspired by a Facebook page created by Google executive Wael Ghonim devoted to a man killed by security forces and ignited by the peaceful Tunisian revolt, which showed change was possible.
If anything, the Muslim Brotherhood deliberately took a low profile during the uprising, not wanting to play into Mubarak’s narrative that his ouster would lead to chaos in Egypt. But a statement Monday from Qaradawi’s International Union of Muslim Scholars said he “initiated the beginning of the Friday of wrath 28/01/2011 by shouting out loud, ‘Go, Mubarak, safeguard the blood and protect the people of Egypt.’”
The Brotherhood confirmed Qaradawi’s role in Friday’s events, saying he “will address the celebrators on the importance of the role of all Egyptians in building a free and democratic Egypt.”