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Top cleric Qaradawi quits Al-Azhar in protest against 'military coup'

Dec. 3, 2013 10:59 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 4, 2013 12:28 P.M.)
DOHA (AFP) -- 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 on Monday, accusing the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed 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 Mohamed Morsi.

The cleric, 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," he 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.

More than 1,000 have been killed and more than 2,000 detained across Egypt in the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood since Aug. 14, when police forcibly dispersed two protest camps in Cairo's Rabia al-Adawiya Square.

The protest camps had been set up in opposition to the July 3 coup by the Egyptian military, which overthrew democratically elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi following mass protests against his leadership.

Since then, Muslim Brotherhood activists have held weekly demonstrations in protest against the coup, while the army has consolidated its grip on power. Last week Egyptian authorities issued a new law drastically restricting protests by demanding notice of any gathering of more than 10 people days in advance, as well details of location, aims, and demands.

Ma'an staff contributed to this report
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