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* Sheikh Yousef el-Qaradawi, 82,an Egyptian who is preaching in Qatar, is considered the top Islamic Sunni scholar and the leading Islamic arbiter in this generation. He has a huge influence on Arab Sunnites in Europe and the Middle East. Sheikh Yousef el- runs a weekly television show in Al-Jazeera T.V Network and a website to promote his ideas.

On Wednesday 09/10/2008 Sheikh Yousef el-Qaradawi, in an interview to the Egyptian daily ‘al-Masry al-Youm’, lashed out on the Shiaa and claimed that Shiites are Muslims but they are heretics and their danger comes from their attempts to invade Sunni society”. He also blamed Shiites of “attempts to invade the Sunni community with their money and cadres trained to do missionary work in the Sunni world”. He also added “They (Shiites) are able to do that because their billions of dollars trained cadres of Shiites proselytizing in Sunni countries. . . . We should protect Sunni society from the Shiite invasion.” The interview caused angery reaction of Shiites in the Middle East.

On Thursday 09/25/2008 Sheikh Yousef el-Qaradawi was interviewed in the Saudi owned Arabic newspaper based in London, the Sharq Al-Awsat (In Arabic – The Middle East). In the interview Sheikh Yousef el-Qaradawi sharply criticized the Islamic Shiaa in general and Iran in particular. He claimed that Shiites “have managed to infiltrate Egypt, which I know well that 20 years ago did not include a single Shiite” and basically repeated his allegations as published in ‘al-Masry al-Youm’ two weeks earlier.

Yousef el-Qaradawi burst at an open door – Wahhabism, the Islamic school practiced in Saudi Arabia refers to Shiites as infidels. Just recently, Al Qaeda acting leader Ayman Al Zawahiri lashed out on Iran, not for the first time, in his last footage published through Al-Jazeera TV network, on Monday 09/08/2008 evening (see – Zawahiri 09.08.08). In South West Pakistan mutual attacks of Shiites on Sunnites and vise versa, in which both sides use suicide bombers, road side bombs, grenade attacks and shooting, are a common regular event. In Yemen Shiites Saada Rebels are fighting the Sunna majority over 15 years and Iraq was on a verge of an all out civil sectarian war between Sunnites and Shiites just a year ago. In Iraq there is still a deep mistrust between Sunnite Militias supported by USA, the Awakening Councils, and Shiite Militias, such as the Mahdi Army and Bader Corp, supported by Iran. In Lebanon the Shiite Militia – Hizbullah, is the dominant power of the country.

The broadening gap between Sunnites and Shiites in the Middle East might redraw the political map of the region. The Israeli-Arab conflict is not and will not be the main issue of the region and political alliances will not be formed referring to the attitude toward Israel. On the contrary, Sunni Muslim countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates might find a common ground with Israel over the Iranian military nuclear build-up. The political map of the future Middle East will reflect the attitude toward Iran and will divide the Middle East between pro-Iranians and anti-Iranians. There are also initial signs that the Sunni Global Jihad might shift its intention to the Shiites on expense of the conflict with the Western Democracies.

 

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