… that would be, of course, to Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestinian branch.
As I mentioned Friday evening, the Brotherhood’s sharia guide, Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, returned to Egypt on Friday to the cheers and genuflections of hundreds of thousands. As I’ve suggested before, as between Iran 1979 and today’s Islamist Turkey, I expect Egypt to regress more along the lines of Turkey, albeit on a faster track. But Qaradawi’s appearance certainly does throw a wrench into the theory that Egypt won’t reprise Iran because there is no obvious, Khomeini-like charismatic figure to take over the revolution. Comparatively speaking, with his media ventures (the weekly al-Jazeera sharia show and Islam Online in particular), his academic credentials and output, his following among Sunni Muslims (far more numerous than Shiites), his many prominent offices, his Brotherhood PR engine, and his admirers in the Middle East, Europe and the U.S., Sheikh Qaradawi is a far more formidable figure than Ayatollah Khomeini appeared to be in 1979.
At Big Peace, the blogger al-Mutarjim is still working on a translation of the sheikh’s full speech from Friday, but he has posted an excerpt — Qaradawi’s exhortation to Hamas and call for the conquest of Jerusalem:
A message to our brothers in Palestine: I have hope that Almighty Allah, as I have been pleased with the victory in Egypt, that He will also please me with the conquest of the al-Aqsa Mosque, to prepare the way for me to preach in the al-Aqsa Mosque. May Allah prepare the way for us to (preach) in the al-Aqsa Mosque in safety–not in fear, not in haste. May Allah achieve this clear conquest for us. O sons of Palestine, I am confident that you will be victorious.
In another worrying sign, there are indications coming out of Egypt and Israel that the Egyptian military provided security for Qaradawi’s appearance before the throng. This, you might say, is to be expected in a potentially unstable situation with the government in flux and a throng of hundreds of thousands (at least) gathered in Tahrir Square. But the reports further suggest that the military let the Muslim Brotherhood take the lead in orchestrating Friday’s events and that opposition leaders who are not Islamists were not permitted to speak. I am not in a position to verify or disprove these reports, but if they are true that would be very ominous indeed.