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March 09, 2003

Muslim Cleric Warns Against Helping U.S.

Is this what is meant by a separation of church and state?

DOHA, Qatar (AP) - Preaching in a mosque near the U.S. headquarters that would run a war against Iraq, a widely known Islamic scholar warned Muslim nations Friday against providing facilities to the American military for a strike against Saddam Hussein.

Youssef al-Qaradawi also urged all Muslim nations to be prepared to fight against the U.S. invasion forces "if the Iraqis fail to drive them out."

In two summits this week, Arab and Muslim leaders rejected use of military force against Iraq and issued vague statements saying they would "abstain" from taking part in a war.

"What we want the leaders is to say that they will not open our land, our waters and our skies to help any aggression against our brothers," al- Qaradawi told about 2,000 faithful gathered for Friday prayer.

"By opening our ports, our airports and our land, we are participating in the war," Qaradawi said. "We will be cursed by history because we have helped the Americans."

Qaradawi, a respected Egyptian Sunni Muslim cleric who lives in Qatar, has an enormous following in the Muslim world, in part because he appears on popular Arabic language satellite television stations.

The United States and Britain have amassed more than a quarter million troops in the region and thousands more are on the way in preparation for s possible war with Iraq because of Saddam's alleged failure to disarm.[more]