Stories about the controversy over the Pope’s remarks on Islam have featured the views of Sheik Yusuf Qaradawi, who has a regular show on the Al-Jazeera television network. Demanding a personal apology from the Pope, Qaradawi declared on Al-Jazeera that “Muslims have the right to be angry and hurt by these comments from the highest cleric in Christianity.” Yet, Qaradawi, a supporter of violent Jihad, is living proof of what the Pope was warning about.
Tracy Wilkinson of the Los Angeles Times said that Qaradawi’s broadcasts on the Arabic TV network, which now wants to expand into the U.S. through an English-language affiliate called Al-Jazeera International, make him “one of Islam’s most influential scholars.” Such is the power of Al-Jazeera. And the power now reaches into the U.S. media.
The Pope, whose “offensive” comments consisted of quoting an historical observation about Islam’s violent past, has now said that he is “deeply sorry” over the reaction to what he said. It’s the reaction, including violent protests, bombs at Christian churches, and threats against Christians, that deserves condemnation.
According to the article in USA Today featuring Qaradawi’s criticism of the Pope, Qaradawi is a “prominent Muslim scholar” who asserts that Islam is a religion of peace and reason.
Yet Qaradawi declared in June of this year that John Kerry lost the U.S. presidential election because he “was supported by homosexuals and nudists.” Explaining the George W. Bush victory over Kerry, Qaradawi asserted that the President was backed by Christians and right-wingers and that “the religious overcame the perverted.”
It’s true that the homosexual lobby supported Kerry, and Bush got support from the religious right, but I wasn’t aware that nudists had emerged as a significant voting bloc.
Later in the interview, which was translated and transcribed by MEMRI, Qaradawi declared homosexuality a crime and said punishment should include the option of burning the perpetrators.
On one occasion, Qaradawi, the advocate of peace, declared, “There is no dialogue between us and the Jews except by the sword and the rifle.”
While he is said to have condemned the 9/11 attacks, he supports Palestinian suicide bombings and even specifically authorizes using women to carry them out.
If much of this is new, you will begin to understand how our media have turned into a propaganda vehicle for global Islam, some of whose leaders react to any perceived criticism with lies and distortions about what they represent. It is significant that Al-Jazeera has made Qaradawi into someone worth quoting in the Western press. His undeserved elevation in such matters makes a mockery of the claim that the American media are “pro-Israel.”
Why has the coverage been so obsequious when it doesn’t take much effort to dig out the truth about him? With their memories fresh of the violent Muslim reaction to a few papers printing the controversial Mohammad cartoons, it would appear that our media are afraid of telling the truth. They will take on President Bush and Karl Rove but not Islamic radicals.
They know that simply drawing attention to the historical record can generate death threats—or perhaps even death itself. We all remember what happened to Theo Van Gogh, the director of a film critical of the treatment of women under Islam. He was murdered in cold blood in the streets of the Netherlands.
Ironically, of course, our media will end up encouraging more violence by making Qaradawi into someone whose views deserve respect and whose influence will expand.
Qaradawi’s emergence as an international spokesman for Islam, despite his history of violent utterances, stems from his association with Al-Jazeera, the Arab channel infiltrated by and a vehicle for al-Qaeda. The Middle East Quarterly reports that Qaradawi “was forced from Egypt for his views, and he lives in Qatar, where he has become a media star by virtue of his immensely popular television show on Al-Jazeera television.”
That’s the same Qatar that is supposed to be a pro-U.S. “friendly” Arab government. The truth is that it is an Arab dictatorial regime which had links to al-Qaeda before 9/11 and has a current seat on the U.N. Security Council that it used to vote against requiring Iran to abandon its nuclear weapons program. The vote was 14-1, with Qatar voting with Iran. Qatar is the base of operations and major underwriter of Al-Jazeera and Al-Jazeera International.
All of this should matter not only because Qaradawi has falsely surfaced in the American press as a peaceful and reasonable critic of the Pope, but because Al-Jazeera International is putting in a major public relations campaign designed to garner carriage on U.S. cable and satellite systems. A new public opinion poll conducted for Accuracy in Media finds the American people strongly opposed to this development.
We are being told by former CNN journalist Riz Khan and others associated with Al-Jazeera International that they will be objective and independent. But evidence of connections to the Arabic Al-Jazeera keeps surfacing.
It turns out that an Internet firm called iHorizons has been hired to create and launch Al-Jazeera International’s new website. The company created AlJazeera.net, the official website channel of the Arabic TV channel, and is also behind Qaradawi.net, the website for the “moderate” scholar who had become so popular with the U.S. media.
Do you want an affiliate of Osama bin Laden’s favorite channel beaming propaganda into your home on cable or satellite TV? Then help us stop Al-Jazeera International.
Cliff Kincaid is Editor of Accuracy in Media.