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Guardian live blog whitewashes al-Qaradawi

This is a cross-post from Just Journalism

The leading Islamic scholar Sheikh Yousuf al-Qaradawi yesterday issued a fatwa or religious decree, permitting the Libyan army to kill their estranged ruler, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. According to MEMRI, Qaradawi used his appearance on Al-Jazeera to argue that the leader’s behaviour was so heinous as to warrant an unfavourable comparison with Jews and Israel:

‘If you [Gaddafi] are indeed [the father of] the people, where is your compassion for them? You claim to be a commander and a father, but does a father ever kill his children?! Does a commander ever kill his soldiers?! And in this manner! …We haven’t seen anyone… Even Israel, when it attacked Gaza… These Jews were described as cruel: “Then your hearts were hardened, and became as rocks, or even harder.” Even the Jews did not do such a thing.’

Al-Qaradawi’s reference to ‘the Jews’ is a reflection of the scholar’s long-held hostility towards Jewish people, as evidenced by a variety of statements, including his endorsement of the Holocaust:

‘Throughout history, Allah has imposed upon the (Jews) people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Hitler. By means of all the things he did to them – even though they exaggerated this issue – he managed to put them in their place. This was divine punishment for them. Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of the believers.’

Such views, alongside his support for suicide attacks against Israel, led to him being banned from entering the UK.

Al-Qaradawi’s fatwa is covered on The Guardian’s live blog. As well as omitting the prejudicial reference to ‘the Jews’, the blog entry describes how Jewish groups ‘regard him as anti-Semitic’. The entry also attempts to portray al-Qaradawi as a pro-democracy moderate who has been ‘branded’ an extremist.

At 9.22pm yesterday The Guardian live blog, authored by Ben Quinn and Jonathan Haynes, covered the fatwa, stating:

‘Al-Qaradawi might be familiar to many in Britain. The government was criticised back in 2008 by moderate Muslim groups after it banned him from entering Britain and branded him an extremist.

‘Qaradawi…who was banned from entering the United States, had previously visited the UK in 2004 at the invitation of the London mayor, Ken Livingstone, sparking protests from Jewish groups and gay people, who regard him as anti-Semitic and homophobic.

‘However, he is also arguably the most influential Sunni Muslim cleric in the world and has regularly spoken in the past in support of democracy.’