Once again, Abu Ardvaark has another interesting post about the whole "Qaradawi-says-kill-American-civilians" affair. Actually, he has translated an article by Fahmi Huwaydi from the Qatari paper al-Sharq, and then added his own comments at the end. There are two very interesting pieces of information in Huwaydi's article that I was not aware of previously. First, the event at which Qaradawi supposedly issued his statement to 'fight US civilians in Iraq' was actually a lecture he was giving entitled "Political Pluralism in the Islamic Understanding". His now famous statement was only in response to a question by a journalist at the end of his lecture.
The more interesting part is the text of what Qaradawi actually said in response to the question. Huwaydi claims that he managed to get his hands on a recording of the 31 August event and this is what Qaradawi said:
The Americans who came to Iraq as invaders, and brought with them war, killing them is necessary.. but the beheadings can not be supported by the ethics of Islam.. the constitution of war in Islam is a constitution of ethics, and by those rules we must not kill except those who kill us, and therefore all of those who do not carry weapons it is not upon us to kill.
This certainly is not what the international media reported the following day. Well okay, his English speaking spokesman did say something quite different. But was it really beyond the capabilities of the media to get a recording of the 31 August lecture (as Huwaydi did) and get an independent translation of what he said? Or why did no one pick up on Qaradawi's press conference held a few days later which had the specific purpose of denying the statements in the press being attributed to him?
Like I said before, I am not at all a supporter of Qaradawi and it is quite odd that I am defending someone like him. However the picture of Qaradawi being painted in the press is entirely different from what the reality seems to be. There are many other Muslim characters who do endorse the killing of civilians and those are the people we should be worrying about, not Qaradawi.
Do read the entire post by Abu Aardvark to catch the details that I have missed out.
This entry was posted
on Wednesday, September 15, 2004 at 9/15/2004 01:43:00 pm. Permalink
I agree with both of you guys that he should be criticized for advocating violence, and for not speaking out enough against the terrorists. He should be called on both of these counts. However my point is that we shouldn't continue to go around saying that Qaradawi says we should kill American civilians.
Yes, he's been quoted as supporting suicide bombings against Israeli women using his rather weak justification that all Israeli are "militarized" (through conscription). But if we're going to report honestly about him we must report on both sides of what he's saying.
To read some of his opinions that represent his "other side" check out the following links: 1, 2, 3. He also has a lot of relatively positive things to say about political reform, freedom of the press, religious pluralism, etc.
Again, if you want to call him a hypocrite for issuing contradictory statements, then I might agree with you. My problem is that the media ignores a huge side of what he has to say, and presents him as though there exists only one side to him. That's all I'm saying.
I couldn’t disagree more on this one Chan’ad – Al Qaradawi’s double talk just makes him much more dangerous not less. The democracy rhetoric enables him to present a moderate yet authentic face to the world and neutralise liberal opponents, before using the kudos to further pursue his deeply regressive agenda.
In fact this is exactly what he did in Algeria with horrendous consequences. There his double talk wasn’t on the subject of political reform as it is today, but was about paying lip service to the FLN. So the generals invited him in because they thought he’d be useful but by the time he’d finished he’d helped radicalise Algerians such that they stood on the precipice of civil war.
Ayatollah Khomeini’s another example of speaking human rights to the West but political Islam to the population – its easy to see which statements he meant now; Hassan Turabi in Sudan is going in the other direction – from mass murderer in power to “democratic dissident” in opposition; closer to home you’ve mentioned on several occasions Al Wefaq’s Mr Bader - no doubt he presented himself as a human rights activist while in exile but once elected he’s now pushing for racial segregation.
These people have to be taken by their very worst most illiberal statements, because unfortunately these are the accurate ones. Again and again the rhetoric about human rights has shown to be worthless.
As for the other poster about the US invasion – Bush and his neocons have done a fantastic job in Iraq, and as you’re bringing order those once rebellious cities its becoming more and more clear that you’re proving how wrong the doubters were.
Cause it's you, I'm going to do more reading and try to have an open mind, but I find no reason what so ever for all the insurgency in Iraq other than to gain individual power and money for some factions and to defeat the west for others.
I can well understand how others would not agree with my views, and people can dump on the US all they want cause we have made mistakes in Iraq. The bottom line is people like Qaradawi are saying it's ok to continue violence, and it's not. The UN has it's finger in the pie now; and there is no logical reason to continue to advocate violence, and Qaradawi ought not add to the problem.
Scorpio, okay, I see what you're getting at, and why you feel Qaradawi and co should be taken at their "most illiberal" statements. You've half convinced me. But let me throw out why I think his other side should also get some light in the press.
Qaradawi is a hugely influential character throughout the Muslim world, from Morocco to Indonesia. Whether we like it or not, people listen to him and the things that he says have the potential to make a difference. If we go around calling Qaradawi an evil man who is always wrong probably won't make others less inclined to listen to him. Rather, we will be marginalized and viewed asQaradawi-haters and we'll be accused of having an agenda against him. On the other hand, if we selectively criticize those things that we believe are wrong, and play up his statements that coincide with our views (eg. its wrong to kill innocent civilians), then we might be able to maintain some credibility and our message might be heard. If supporters of Qaradawi recognize that we aware of both the good and bad about him, they are more likely to take us seriously.
As an example of this idea, let's take a look at the electioneering going on the US currently. Many democrats go around saying that everything about Bush is bad, and many reps say that everthing about Kerry is wrong. But neither of these people are able to get their point across to the other side, because no one is willing to listen. A marginal voter would more likely be convinced by someone who appears to be impartial and can recognize the good and the bad of a candidate.
Okay, that was the political side of my argument assumes that we have an underlying goal of getting Muslims to think a bit harder. Let's now consider the ethical side of this, specifically the ethics of journalism and "honest reporting". I can see your reason for using Qaradawi's "most illiberal" statement to gauge the reality of where he stands. Fine, that's how you view things. However I believe that its not up to reporters to decide this. A reporter can't really claim to know what's going on inside one's mind. The reporter can present his argument, and try and convince his/her audience that Qaradawi's real stance is found in his most extreme view. But I don't think they should be omitting sections of his public rhetoric. For example, the media sometimes use the term "flip-flop" to describe Kerry. That doesn't seem so wrong. But if we were to claim that he is pro-War since he voted for it, and we were to omit all of his other statements then we would be dishonest.
To the previous Anon commenter: YES! I think Qaradawi is wrong for advocating violence. That IS the bottom line, and I am not suggesting anything against this. What I'm saying is that we need to be specific about what we call him on. Claiming that everything he says is evil is wrong in my opinion. Claiming that a specific statement(s) of his is evil is much much closer to the truth.
Anyways, thank to both of you for your comments. You've made me think hard and reassess my position. One thing I've realized about why I hold the opinion I do of Qardawi is because I speak as a former "insider". I was at one time a supporter of Qaradawi, and was constantly around others who also supported him. From this experience I've seen that Qaradawi has in many (maybe most) cases had a positive influence on myself and others. When discussing things like Jihad, his supporters would often remind each other that it is entirely off-limits to harm innocent civilians, women, children, elderly, religious sites, crops, trees in combat. They would cite Qaradawi's statements to prove their point. I remember one specific time (prior to 9/11) during a discussion group in a mosque in America where someone asked the group leader whether it could ever be allowed to attack America. The answer from the Qaradawi-supporting group leader was a resounding "no". He cited some statements from Qaradawi and other Islamists reminding us that it is completely off-limits to launch an attack on a state that is hosting us and that is not oppressing us.
It is from experiences like those that I have made much of my opinion about the influence of Qaradawi on Muslims around the world. His views are far far far from the ideal, but I have seen the way his words often have a positive effect. Because of this we must separate folks like Qaradawi from other turban-heads who are far more dangerous. Criticize all of them, but be aware of their differences.