DUBAI (Reuters) -Senior Muslim cleric Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, a spiritual leader for the Muslim Brotherhood and defender of Arab Spring revolts, died on Monday at age 96, according to a post on his official Twitter account.
Born in Egypt in 1926, Qaradawi spent much of his life in Qatar, where he became one of the most recognisable and influential Sunni Muslim clerics in the Arab world thanks to regular appearances on Qatar’s Al Jazeera network.
“His Eminence Imam Youssef al-Qaradawi, who gave his life to making clear the tenets of Islam and defending his umma (Muslim community), has passed to the Lord’s mercy” said a statement on Twitter announcing his death, alluding to struggles with ill health.
Qaradawi’s sermons offered a counterweight to the radical ideologies espoused by al-Qaeda and Islamic state, while supporting militant movements in other parts of the region. He was highly critical of Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as well as the Saudi leadership, fuelling a rift with Doha.
An Egyptian court sentenced him to death in absentia in 2015 alongside other Brotherhood leaders. His daughter was detained by Egyptian authorities on terrorism charges in 2017 until 2021, while his son-in-law remains detained, their lawyer said. They deny the charges.
In a tribute, Tunisian Islamist leader Rached Ghannouchi described Qaradawi as “committed to the principle of moderation within this great religion.”
However, some social media users appearing to post from Egypt and Saudi Arabia among other countries celebrated his death and accused him of sowing discord between Arab nations.
(Reporting by Moataz Mohamed; Writing by Lina Najem and Nafisa Eltahir; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel, William Maclean)