A Turkish newspaper has reported that Muslim cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, described as “more dangerous than Osama bin Laden” by a Norwegian author, will move to Norway for a short period of time in order to help those living in northern areas of the country with the working out of daily prayer times.
Al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian, is known for his controversial announcements, such as his belief that the Holocaust was a divine punishment carried out by Hitler against the Jews. He reportedly believes that husbands can hit their wives and that the age of consent for marriage should be nine years old as long as the girl is a virgin and participates voluntarily. Al-Qaradawi himself married a 14 year-old when he was 60. He has also supported female genital mutilation.
The cleric is banned from entering the USA, UK and Israel. He has released over 80 books and has hosted a programme on global news network al-Jazeera watched by up to 40 million people. He is considered very influential within the Muslim Brotherhood and has held a number of other positions, including being a trustee of the University of Oxford’s Center for Islamic Studies. Some have described al-Qaradawi as a moderate Islamic scholar, in particular for his views on the compatibility of democracy and Islam, and relations between Muslims and non-Muslims.
Muslims must pray five times a day, with the times dictated by the position of the sun. It is not possible to do this in parts of north Norway, where there is 24-hour sunshine in the summer and permanent darkness during parts of the winter. Turkish English-language newspaper Today’s Zaman reported that al-Qaradawi “and his team” are coming to the country in order to address this issue.
The Islamic Association in Norway confirmed that it has been suggested that al-Qaradawi come to the country as part of a seminar or conference. The association’s leader, Basim Ghozlan, nonetheless told newspaper VG that regarding the prayer timing project “if anyone is to do the work, it will be experts in this, not al-Qaradawi.” No further details could be given at this stage, although Ghozlan said that “it will be the Islamic Association that arranges this.” VG reports that he is aware that the arrival of the cleric in Norway will provoke a reaction.
‘Sheikh of death’
The Norwegian-Iraqi author Walid al-Kubaisi, writing in newspaper Aftenposten, has suggested that al-Qaradawi is “more dangerous than Osama bin-Laden” for Norway. In a comment article published in 2006, he criticized Mohammed Hamdan of the Islamic Council in Norway and the dean of Oslo Cathedral, Olav Dag Hauge, for traveling to meet al-Qaradawi in Qatar and describing him as a moderate. Al-Kubaisi wrote that bin Laden and al-Qaradawi share a common philosophy and “only use different methods.”
Earlier this year, five members of parliament representing the Christian Democratic Party demanded that the Islamic Council in Norway explain their relationship with al-Qaradawi through the European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR). They described him as the “sheikh of death” and believe he has incited terror attacks. The Islamic Council has denied the accusations against al-Qaradawi.