DOHA/CAIRO: Muslim Brotherhood-linked theologian Yusuf al-Qaradawi has resigned from the governing body of Cairo’s Al-Azhar, accusing the top Sunni seat of learning of supporting Egypt’s military-installed government.
“I submit my resignation,” Qaradawi wrote on Twitter and his Facebook page Monday, accusing the grand imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmad al-Tayyeb, of “abusing the authority of the office to support the military coup.”
Egyptian-born Qaradawi, who has been based in Qatar since he was stripped of his citizenship decades ago, has been an outspoken critic of the army’s July 3 ouster of Islamist President Mohammad Morsi.
The preacher, who retains huge influence through his regular appearances as a commentator on Doha-based satellite channel Al-Jazeera, issued a religious edict, or fatwa, calling on Egyptians to restore Morsi to “his legitimate post.”
“We have waited for the sheikh of Al-Azhar to return to the correct path and to disassociate himself from the tyrant regime,” Qaradawi said in Monday’s posting.
Qaradawi, now 86, was jailed several times in the 1950s under the rule of President Gamal Abdel-Nasser and left for Qatar in 1961.
He returned to the land of his birth 50 years later and led mass prayers in Cairo’s Tahrir Square shortly after President Hosni Mubarak was forced out in February 2011 in the face of the mass protests of the Arab Spring.
Meanwhile, prominent youth leader Ahmad Duma was arrested for participating in a protest, his wife told AFP, the third pro-democracy activist to be detained within a week.
Egyptian authorities have widened their crackdown on protesters since interim President Adly Mansour passed a law on Nov. 24 that bans all unauthorized demonstrations.
“He has been arrested for participating in a violent protest outside a court. He is now being interrogated by the prosecution,” Duma’s wife Nurhan Hefzy said.
Duma also wrote about his arrest on his Twitter account. “I am now in Basateen police station. I don’t know what I am accused of and what is the reason for my arrest,” he tweeted.
An Egyptian judicial source said Duma was being questioned for participating in a violent protest outside a Cairo court Saturday when another prominent activist Ahmad Maher turned himself in after he was ordered arrested by the general prosecution.
The new law stipulates that permission to hold gatherings can be denied if a planned protest is deemed a threat to national security.
The text of a new constitution that would consolidate the power of the army was handed over to Egypt’s interim president Tuesday giving him a month to hold a referendum.
The text was given to Mansour by former Arab League chief Amr Moussa, who headed the 50-member drafting committee which completed its work Sunday.
Speaking at a news conference after the handover, Moussa called on “all Egyptians to take part in the referendum and to vote ‘yes.’”
“Egypt faces dangerous acts of sedition that we must bring to an end,” he said.
The most controversial article states that “no civilian can be tried by military judges, except for crimes of direct attacks on armed forces, military installations and military personnel.”
Secular activists and rights groups have severely criticized the provision, fearing it could be applied to protesters, journalists and dissidents.