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EGYPT: Sunni scholar Yusuf Qaradawi reignites sectarian tensions

September 28, 2008 |  9:05 am

Alqaradawi_3 By questioning the faith of Shiites and warning against their attempts at invading Sunni countries, prominent religious scholar Yusuf Qaradawi reignited a new sectarian war of words across the Middle East.

Earlier this month, the Egyptian-born scholar said in an interview with a local newspaper: "Shiites are Muslims, but they are heretics. The threat they pose lies in their attempts to invade the Muslim world."

His statement provoked ripostes from top Shiite clerics in Lebanon and Iran. In the meantime, the sectarian rift was furiously played out in cyberspace. On the website of the Arabic Radio of Iran, several respondents voiced their outrage.

"You should incite Muslims against American and Israeli invasions and western hegemony over the Muslim world rather than incite them blindly against fellow Muslims. I pity you and would like to give you a piece of advice: Don't be a puppet in the hands of the Americans and the Israelis. Be more attentive to the Ummah's interests," wrote a respondent who identified himself as Mahmoud M. on the forum.

A Saudi respondent who identified himself as Hussein wrote: "May God reward our respected Shiekh."

On the website of the pan-Arab, Saudi-owned Al Sharq al Awsat daily, some Arabs hailed the statement made by the Qatar-based sheik. "You did a great job, may God bless you for your smart stand. Shiite doctrines pose the most serious threat to Islam," wrote Abdullah from Qatar.

— Noha El-Hennawy in Cairo

Photo: Yusuf Qaradawi  Credit: BBC