CATF Reports Aug. 25, 2016, 3:15pm


On Tuesday, Egypt lashed out at the highest symbolic expression of Qatar’s passive sponsorship of extremism and terrorism over the past decades through a column of a prominent U.S. media platform. In an opinion piece posted by the Wall Street Journal on August 23, Egypt’s Ambassador to the United States Yasser Reda attacked the Doha-based Sunni cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi over one of his most debated and controversial responses to a question on the legitimacy of suicide attempts in Syria raised in 2015 by one of the viewers of his show, Sharia and Life. Reda offered the example of Qaradawi’s favorable opinion on suicide attempts when expressly authorized by a group or community to call upon the international community to pursue state level efforts to counter radicalism and the incitement of terrorism. According to Ambassador Reda, UN counterterrorism resolutions ratified after 9/11 impose obligations on governments to protect civil society from opinions encouraging extremism, such as Qaradawi’s.

An exceptionally prolific writer and preacher legitimately regarded as the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Qaradawi’s opinions were widely circulated by the Qatar-funded media network Aljazeera under the aegis of the Al-Thani family over the past two decades. The overtly radical tones of his speeches and publications and, more generally, his involvement in controversial organizations and financial institutions with proven ties to extremism and terrorism earned him a travel ban in the UK, France, and the U.S., and multilateral criticism over his active role and engagement in international Islamist circles. Egypt’s vitriolic criticism of the Egyptian cleric disguises an unequivocal attack to Qatar’s state sponsorship of Qaradawi and of what the preacher represents – an enduring commitment to the Islamist mission – as well as the Gulf state’s calculated tolerance towards an environment conducive to growing radical sympathies.

Although certainly serving Egypt’s foreign policy mission, Reda raises a compelling argument: at the very least, the international community must act against “the intellectual fuel that justifies the evil of terrorism” by demanding compliance with resolutions already in place and sanctioning systematic violations such as the ones encouraged by Qatar for years.

From The Wall Street Journal:

“Like al-Qaradawi, many self-styled imams, sheikhs and scholars have perverted the message of Islam and distorted its values to serve their political purposes through the justification of violence. The question we must consider is: How should the international community combat this ideology of terror? […]

The international community, perhaps acting through the United Nations Security Council, should consider requiring governments to take the necessary legislative measures to proscribe speech that incites, justifies, promotes or glorifies acts of terrorism, and to ensure that the appropriate criminal sanctions are in place to enforce such a proscription. The U.N. Human Rights Committee, which is charged with monitoring compliance with the ICCPR, should require states to report on these efforts. […]

These resolutions, which include oversight and review mechanisms, provide a template to establish mechanisms through which governments can report what they deem to be cases of open incitement to terrorism and religious or political justifications for acts of violence. States should also be allowed to use these reporting mechanisms to name and shame media outlets that provide a platform for individuals who pontificate on behalf of the evil of terrorism.”

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