Senior cleric al-Qaradawi denies advocating suicide bombing in Egypt

Senior cleric al-Qaradawi denies advocating suicide bombing in Egypt
3 min read
30 July, 2015
Qaradawi has issued a statement denying Egyptian media's accusations that he advocates suicide bombing in Egypt, and clarifies his views on such attacks in Palestine.
al-Qaradawi is a respected scholar, though not without controversy [Getty]
Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a pre-eminent Egyptian Islamic theologian, has issued a "clarifying statement" on his website surrounding his opinions on the use of suicide bombing, referred to by the site as "martyrdom operations", saying that the tactic was forbidden to all those outside the Palestinian territories.

His comments come as Egyptian media was circulating video clips of Qaradawi allegedly encouraging the use of suicide bombing against the President Alaa Fatah al-Sisi.

Qardawi, who has close ties to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, said that the video was edited old footage that predated the military coup in Egypt in 2013, and that he did not advocate suicide attacks against the Egyptian regime.

The statement read that Qaradawi "stresses the peaceful nature of the revolution and pays tribute to the free revolutionaries for abiding by that, in spite of the horrific killings, torture, arrests and constant pursuit [of them]."

The theologian reiterated his condemnation of attacks against the United States in "its own backyard", such as the world trade centre bombings in 2001.

The scholar said that although those living under Israeli occupation may still use suicide bombing due to their "special circumstances", as Palestinians now have the use of rockets to defend themselves from Israel, such operations are now more questionable, marking a departure from his previous comments that condoned such attacks.

The statement quotes from Qaradawi’s book Fiqh al-Jihad, where he said: "God has spared our brothers in Palestine from [carrying out] these attacks and allowed them to obtain rockets that fire deep into Israel, albeit not as effective as Israeli missiles - but they do them damage, worry them and annoy them.

"The Palestinians no longer rely on suicide attacks as they used to, because there is a way to handle any situation."

This also reflected in change in Palestinian militant tactics, as the military wing of Hamas, al-Qassam who previously carried out suicide bombings in Israel, now purportedly focus their attacks on Israeli military targets.

Mohammad Deif, military commander of Qassam, declared in a speech during the 2014 Gaza war that "we prefer fighting and killing the soldiers of elite enemy units than attacking civilians in the villages next to Gaza".

Qaradawi, chairman of the International Union of Muslim scholars and also known for his appearances in media outlets, such as al-Jazeera and IslamOnline, said that fatwas may change depending on "the time, place and situation."

Although Qaradawi was a trustee for the Oxford Centre of Islamic Studies until 2004, he was denied entry to the UK in 2008 due to his views on Palestine, which UK Prime Minister David Cameron called "dangerous and divisive."

Qaradawi issued a controversial fatwa saying that suicide bombings or "martyrdom operations" are permitted in the case of Palestine, as Israel is a fully militarized society who is actively occupying land.

A rebuttal was issued by Shaykh Mohammed Afifi al-Akiti of Oxford University who condemned all attacks against civilians.  He also questioned the legitimacy of "martyrdom operations" due to suicide being prohibitted in Islam. 

In May, Egypt passed a death sentence on the scholar, who currently resides in Qatar, for allegedly partaking in a mass jail-break in 2011.  Qaradawi condemned the sentence passed on himself and hundreds of others, saying that it violated Islamic law.