London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Prominent Qatar-based cleric Yusuf Al-Qaradawi resigned from the governing body of Egypt’s Al-Azhar on Monday in protest at the head of the institution’s support for the country’s military-backed government.
The cleric posted a message on his Facebook and Twitter accounts saying that he was quitting Al-Azhar’s Senior Scholars Committee “in the name of the great Egyptian people,” and accused its leader, Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb, of “abusing the authority of the office to support the military coup.”
Qaradawi, a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, has been a fierce critic of the toppling of Brotherhood-backed former President Mohamed Mursi earlier this year by the Egyptian armed forces following mass protests against him and the Brotherhood.
His resignation comes only a day before the draft of a new constitution was presented to Egypt’s interim president, Adly Mansour. The new document, which will be the subject of a referendum later this month, replaces one passed by Mursi last year.
The 50-strong committee that drafted the new constitution included Sheikh Tayeb. It held its final meeting on Monday, the same day Qaradawi announced his resignation.
“We have waited for the Sheikh of Al-Azhar to return to the correct path and to disassociate himself from the tyrant regime,” Qaradawi’s statement said.
He called on “free sons and scholars of Al-Azhar” to “quit that institution that has become a dead corpse.”
Qaradawi, 86, left Egypt for Qatar in 1961 after being imprisoned by the Free Officers government led by Gamal Abdel Nasser. Despite his absence from the country, he was able to amass a considerable following in Egypt thanks to his appearances on the Qatar-based satellite news channel Al-Jazeera.