WikiLeaks: 2005-06-13: 05DOHA1056: Conversation with Islamic Scholar Yousef Al-Qaradawi
Viewing cable 05DOHA1056, CONVERSATION WITH ISLAMIC SCHOLAR YOUSEF
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DOHA 001056 SIPDIS E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/05/2015 TAGS: PREL KISL PTER PINR IZ IS QA SUBJECT: CONVERSATION WITH ISLAMIC SCHOLAR YOUSEF AL-QARADAWI Classified By: Ambassador Chase Untermeyer for reason 1.4 (d). ¶1. (C) P/E Chief met with influential Islamic scholar Dr. Yousef al-Qaradawi in May. Qaradawi maintained an attitude of intellectual superiority and aloofness during the meeting. He made a point to reaffirm his well-known positions on suicide bombings against Israel and on interacting with Jews. He expressed frustration at the revocation of his U.S. visa and said he did not have links with terrorism. With Qaradawi were his son, Dr. Mohamed al Qaradawi, assistant professor at Qatar University; Dr. Hamed al-Marwani, professor of Sharia, and one other assistant. End Summary. ¶2. (C) In an initial meeting at his offices at Qatar University, Qaradawi seemed unwilling to have a friendly conversation, either because of his religious and intellectual status or because of a perception of being under attack from the U.S. He remained formal, sitting behind his desk and wearing his outer cloak. He did not treat the meeting as an opportunity for dialogue but as one to deliver expansive criticisms of U.S. policy. Visa Cancellation ----------------- ¶3. (C) Qaradawi began the conversation discussing the withdrawal of his U.S. visa in 2000 or earlier (he did not recall). He said this came after his participation in regular religious conferences in the U.S. that were, he said, "positive and useful." P/E Chief said that during this time Qaradawi was known to be voicing support for Palestinian suicide bombers. Qaradawi took hold of the opportunity to make clear that "I support the martyrdom operations." These were justified as the only way to respond to the "rape" of the Palestinian people and the destruction of their homes. He called these suicides the "dearest type" of weapon, because it is the only weapon available. "How can I align myself with Zionists when the Palestinian people are being destroyed in this manner?" he asked, reinforcing the steadfastness of his position on suicide bombing. ¶4. (C) He added that the cancellation of his visa before September 2001 was strange because the Islamic world supported the west during the cold war and the U.S. should have capitalized on this alliance. ¶5. (C) Qaradawi went through a long list of U.S. policy errors that have brought the stature of the U.S. down in the eyes of foreigners over the past 40 years. The errors focused on U.S. support for non-democratic regimes in the Middle East and keeping quiet while they restrict human rights. This appeared to be a stump speech; Qaradawi did not answer when asked if he had observed any recent changes in U.S. policy supporting democratic change. U.S. is the Undemocratic Force Behind Arab Regimes --------------------------------------------- ----- ¶6. (C) Qaradawi mentioned Tunisia as one example of Arab despotism supported by the U.S. He said Tunisian women who choose to wear the hijab cannot register at high schools or college. P/E Chief noted that the U.S position in support of human rights in Tunisia is well known, while Arab states avoid criticizing Tunisia on human rights issues. He responded that these Arab states are undemocratic themselves and could not be held to account. Support for Iraqi Insurgency ---------------------------- ¶7. (C) On Iraq, Qaradawi said he supports the insurgency because it is a resistance to occupation by a foreign power. P/E Chief asked whether he supported the insurgency even as it kills Iraqis. He answered that the Iraqi government had been put in place by the U.S. and was thereby an organ of the occupation. ¶8. (C) He talked at some length about the Middle East as the inheritor of many civilizations from Pharaonic to Assyrian -- listing them all -- and how Islam respects all human beings as descended from the same "father." He made the point in several ways that the funds used on the Iraq war would have been better spent on humanitarian projects. Israel/Palestine is Top Issue ----------------------------- ¶9. (C) Qaradawi called the Israeli issue the number one problem in the region. He said he will not engage in dialogue with Jews who are Israeli or who support Zionism. He will not participate in the upcoming Dialogue of Religions in Doha at the end of June, to which Jews have been invited for the first time. He said he accepts dialogue with Jews who do not support Israel, and he mentioned a meeting he had in London in that regard. ¶10. (C) Qaradawi did not say whether he wished to continue a dialogue with the USG. He said that any dialogue must be based on a relationship of equality; he opposed agreeing to any dialogue with one's oppressor. Comment ------- ¶11. (C) Embassy sought the meeting in order to learn more about a man whose statements are notorious but whom few Americans have ever met. It was also important to get to know the men around him. No further contact with Qaradawi is planned, although P/E Chief has maintained contact with his son, an American-trained professor of engineering, who seeks to travel to the U.S. for an academic seminar. UNTERMEYER