Quranic reciter quits Qatar trip after Sisi row

Quranic reciter quits Qatar trip after Sisi row
Kuwaiti Quranic reciter Mishary al-Afasy quits Qatar poetry contest, following a Twitter backlash against him for comments apparently supportive of the Egyptian president.
2 min read
15 Jun, 2015
Afasi and Sisi [Al-Araby al-Jadeed]

Popular Kuwaiti Quranic reciter Mishary al-Afasy has come under fire by Twitter users for statements he made in a telephone interview with the Egyptian satellite channel CBC, which many people have interpreted as supportive of the Egyptian president Abd al-Fattah Sisi's military coup.

Afasy said told host Khairy Ramadan: "Such a situation is in need of a powerful leader, one that the people listen to and obey, as religious scholars have decreed. And if you don't listen or obey force will be used against you."  

Many social media users thought the comments backed the Sisi government's harsh crackdown on members of the now banned Muslim Brotherhood, which has seen thousands of people killed and arrested since the coup against former president Mohammad Morsi.

A Twitter campaign was launched calling for the Quranic reciter to be banned from attending the launch party of the Prophet's Poets contest being held in Doha on Monday.

The contest is being organised by Qatari cultural group Katara, the poet with best poem that praises the Prophet will win $300,000 prize.

Katara removed Afasy's name from its programme and did not include his name in a Twitter post announcing the event's guests of honour. The religious orator decided to decline his invitation, claiming he was busy "shooting for Ramadan".

Afasy responded to his critics by posting an image on Twitter of himself next to Sisi with a caption accusing him of calling the Egyptian president "clean-handed" and "God-fearing" for rejecting billions of dollars from countries that support the Brotherhood, because he is an honourable and patriotic man only interested in Egypt's best interests.

Afasy called the image "slander" and said he would never have said such a thing on social media.

After announcing he would not attend the event, the religious orator said on Twitter: “Anyway, thanks for the invitation. Qatar and the Qataris are the pride of all Arabs and Muslims."

Afasy is well-known for his recitations of the Quran and religious chants. He owns a satellite channel that broadcasts his recordings and carries his name.