Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an influential Muslim Brotherhood theologian, promises to be in Egypt's Tahrir Square to deliver a sermon at Friday's prayer service.
Qaradawi, who has lived in Qatar since 1961, was a vocal critic of deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. A profile this week in Germany's Der Spiegel called him the Muslim Brotherhood's "father figure."
But his return is being touted as a reward for "Qaradawi's role in mobilizing support for the Egyptian revolution," a claim which is questionable at best.
It won't be the first time Qaradawi has been back to Egypt, but his visits have been fleeting. A sermon from him on the first Friday after Mubarak's ouster could be hugely symbolic as the Brotherhood tries to exert influence over the direction Egyptian society takes. And it will trigger memories of the 1979 Iranian revolution, which took a dramatic turn when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned from exile in France.
James Clapper issued a clarification last week. Within hours of testifying to Congress that the Muslim Brotherhood is a “largely secular” organization, he clarified that he had meant to say the Muslim Brotherhood is not a secular organization. Clapper, the Obama administration’s national intelligence director, did not clue us in on whether he’d been tipped off by the organization’s name or by its motto proclaiming devotion to Islam, Mohammed, the Koran, sharia, and jihad — the final term being one he may have missed thanks to ongoing government efforts to purge it from our lexicon.
If Mr. Clapper’s information was a tad off, his timing was even worse. And not just because even giddy Western pundits were occasionally pausing from their dance on Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s political grave to admit that the pharaoh’s demise could pave the way for a Brotherhood-led Islamist ascendancy.
“To fulfill Walter Reed's academic requirement for a presentation on a psychiatric theme, Hasan proffered a draft consisting almost entirely of wisdom from the Quran arguing for the painful punishment and liquidation of non-Muslims...He went on to his medical fellowship, where he soon delivered another class lecture, this one on the Islamist theme that the West, in particular the U.S military, had mounted a war on Islam. The presentation brimmed with views sympathetic to Osama bin Laden, the motives of the 9/11 perpetrators, and suicide bombers..”
In a month of momentous change, it was easy to overlook the significance of another revolutionary event. Who would have believed that in the space of a few weeks the leaders of the three major European powers would publicly denounce multiculturalism and declare, in so many words, that it was a proven disaster and a threat to society?
One after another they announced their findings—Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel, Great Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, and France's President Nicolas Sarkozy. Multicultural values had not only led to segregated communities: They had, Mr. Cameron noted, imposed policies of blind toleration that had helped nurture radical Islam's terrorist cells.
Sudan's Split: As South Cheers, the North Protests
"At last we will have a country where no one will ask me to be a Muslim or an Arab," she exclaimed. If it was authoritarianism that pushed South Sudan to break away from the North, the question now is, Could it tear apart the rest of the country too?
The people of Sudan's southern capital, Juba, broke out in exuberant song and dance on Sunday, Jan. 30, as the inevitable became official: in July, Sudan will split into two new nations. Sudanese officials announced that southerners had voted nearly 99% in favor of separation during a Jan. 9-15 referendum. The result itself is no surprise, but after 50 years of struggle and a decade of grueling international diplomacy, many southerners could barely believe the day had finally arrived. "We always thought this was a dream," said Ayat Jervase, 32, a doctor who was among those dancing in celebration. "Now it has come true."
But as Juba partied, Sudan's northern capital, Khartoum, became the latest major city in the Arab world to be shrouded in clouds of tear gas. Inspired by their peers in Tunisia and neighboring Egypt, Sudanese students took to the streets in the capital and other university towns across northern Sudan. The Arab government of strongman Omar Hassan al-Bashir, rattled by its role in the country's impending partition and facing a looming economic crisis because of the loss of the South's oil, deployed baton-wielding riot police who arrested suspected ringleaders, beat street protesters and surrounded universities. By nightfall, the demonstrators had dispersed. (See pictures of southern Sudanese voting in the referendum.)
For the North's authoritarian regime, the Arab world's wave of discontent could not have come at a worse time. Even before Tunisia and Egypt erupted in popular revolt, the South's secession promised tough times for al-Bashir's regime. As the South goes, so go 80% of Sudan's oil reserves, the northern government's main revenue stream. Al-Bashir also has a list of other financial headaches: a mountain of foreign debt, now nearly $40 billion; an economy threatened by a lack of investment in agriculture; depleting foreign-currency reserves; and rapid inflation. In early January, Khartoum enacted a series of austerity measures to try to stabilize the economy, including slashing fuel and food subsidies.
The well-respected Dr. Imad Mustafa, of al-Azhar University, the world’s most important Islamic university, has issued an ground-breaking fatwa: “Then there is another type of fighting against the non- Muslims known as offensive jihad... which is to pursue the infidels into their own land without any aggression [on their part]... Two schools [of Islamic jurisprudence] have ruled that offensive jihad is permissible in order to secure Islam’s border, to extend God’s religion to people in cases where the governments do not allow it, such as the Pharaoh did with the children of Israel, and to remove every religion but Islam from the Arabian peninsula.” In practice, according to this doctrine, then, any non-Muslim can be attacked anywhere to further Islam.
There have been major developments in Tunisia, Lebanon and Egypt, each of which is of tremendous importance.
In Tunisia, a popular uprising fueled by unemployment, economic suffering and long-term discontent has overthrown the dictator, but not necessarily the dictatorship. In 55 years of independence, the country has been governed by two dictators, the current one being Zine al-Abedin Ben Ali, who has been president for 23 years and was a key power in the regime even before that.