Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Brotherhood proving bad news for Al Jazeera

  • Print

So, it hasn’t been the best week for Al Jazeera, the television network owned by Qatar’s despotic ruling family, for the same reason that it hasn’t been a great week for the despotic ruling family itself: the ouster of Egypt’s president, Mohammed Morsi, the bumpkin fundamentalist.

Qatar pumped a lot of money into Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood government, and for what? The Qatari royal family should sue the Brotherhood for malfeasance. So much hope was riding on Morsi’s experiment in political Islam. Although Qatar spreads the risk around a bit — it has provided millions of dollars to Islamists in Syria and to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas (now there’s an investment in the future) — Morsi represented its main chance to advance the cause of Islamic fundamentalism.

And now, to add insult to financial injury, Saudi Arabia just promised post-Morsi Egypt $5 billion, and the United Arab Emirates, another of Qatar’s main rivals, has kicked in $3 billion.

As for Al Jazeera, which is scheduled to introduce its American network next month in place of Al Gore’s hapless Current TV, well, let’s put it this way: It will certainly be more popular among Americans than it is among Egyptians. Which isn’t saying much.

The millions of Egyptians who rose up against Morsi’s rule also aired their feelings about Al Jazeera’s breathless pro-Muslim Brotherhood coverage. The harsh criticism directed at the network prompted Egyptian reporters to expel Al Jazeera reporters from a recent news conference, and led several journalists to quit Al Jazeera’s Egypt operation, apparently to protest its obvious bias.

One of the correspondents who quit, Haggag Salama, accused his ex-bosses of "airing lies and misleading viewers." The journalist Abdel Latif el-Menawy is reported to have called Al Jazeera a "propaganda channel" for the Muslim Brotherhood. It’s possible that some of the journalists who quit did so as a matter of self-preservation; the Egyptian military is behaving in predictably heavy-handed ways toward journalists it doesn’t like. But it’s also entirely plausible that they quit because they couldn’t abide Qatari government interference in their reporting.

If it’s been a bad week for Qatar and Al Jazeera, it’s been a very bad week for the network’s star broadcaster, the televangelist Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a Sunni cleric who is a spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. Qaradawi has been Al Jazeera’s most important star for many years. His show, Shariah and Life, is seen by millions across the Middle East.

As I reported this week, Qaradawi is an extremist’s extremist: He endorses female genital mutilation (he doesn’t refer to it that way, of course); he has called for the punishment of gay people; he has provided theological justification to insurgents who targeted American troops for death in Iraq (though he’s hypocritically silent on the decision of his Qatari patrons to allow the United States to locate a Central Command headquarters on their soil); he has defended the idea that the penalty for some Muslims who leave Islam should be death; and also, by the way, he believes that Hitler’s Final Solution was a nifty idea.

Over the past week, Qaradawi has seen his dream of Muslim Brotherhood rule in the Arab world’s most important country dissolve, and he has had to endure a special sort of humiliation — his own son, a prominent Egyptian reformer, accused him, in essence, of being a stooge for the power-mad Morsi. Shortly after Qaradawi issued a religious ruling calling the Egyptian army coup that unseated Morsi illegitimate, and demanding that all good Muslims work to reinstate the Muslim Brotherhood-led government, his son, Abdul Rahman Yusuf al Qaradawi, accused his father in a letter of not knowing what he’s talking about.

Referring to Morsi, the younger Qaradawi wrote: "We agreed with him that he would install a participatory government but he didn’t keep his word. We agreed with him that he would clean up the police force but he didn’t do that. We agreed with him that he would be president of all Egyptians but he disappointed us." He went on to scold his father: "You haven’t seen a real revolution like the one that is happening in Egypt now. The views and ideas that the present generation of the Egyptians have are totally different from the ones that people of your generation had."

This letter is the most encouraging thing I’ve read all week. I certainly hope the younger Qaradawi is correct: The world would be a better place if young Arabs across the Middle East saw the Muslim Brotherhood for what it is: a totalitarian, fundamentalist, misogynistic cult.

The world would also be a better place if Al Jazeera understood this. The network says that its American branch will be focused on fearless and serious reporting, and Al Jazeera is hiring some very fine journalists to staff the new channel. My advice to them, if they’re interested in maintaining their integrity while in the employ of the Brotherhood-supporting despots who rule Qatar, is to pursue a story that asks the following questions: Who, exactly, is our colleague Yusuf al- Qaradawi? What does he believe? And why do our owners provide him with a global platform for the advancement of his hatred?


Jeffrey Goldberg is a Bloomberg View columnist.

—Bloomberg News

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Key of Bart - Four Little Games

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Young goslings are growing up quickly near Cresent Lake in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba- See Bryksa 30 Day goose project- Day 11- May 15, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • July 1, 2012 - 120701  -   Canada Day fireworks at The Forks from the Norwood Bridge Sunday, July 1, 2012.    John Woods / Winnipeg Free Press

View More Gallery Photos


Are you concerned about the number of homicides so far this year?

View Results

Ads by Google