The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Intellectuals vs. fundamentalist sheikhs

A group of over 3000 Arab and Muslim intellectuals wants to take to court sheikhs who they say encourage violence and terrorism:

Shaker al-Nabulsi, a U.S.-based Jordanian university professor, said about 3,000 Arab and Muslim intellectuals have signed the petition thus far calling for international trials. Iraqis, Jordanians, Libyans, Syrians, Tunisians and Persian Gulf intellectuals were among those who signed, al-Nabulsi said.
"The Arab regimes cannot put an end to these fatwas of terrorism; the international community can," al-Nabulsi told The Associated Press in Cairo in a telephone interview from his Denver home.

Among those the intellectuals want to see tried are Qatar-based Egyptian Sheik Youssef al-Qaradawi, who has condoned attacks on American civilians in Iraq and sanctioned kidnapping in wartime. Two prominent Saudi clerics, Sheik Ali Bin Khudeir al-Khudeir and Sheik Safar al-Hawali, also are mentioned.

Good for them. It would be great if a movement of liberal intellectuals took to court prominent Islamists in their own country (although I'm not sure on what legal grounds they could do so), much as Islamists in Egypt have taken liberals to court for publishing books that are "insulting to Islam." Youssef Al Qaradawi (even if he is not guilty of all the things often attributed to him) would be a good start.