Islam Online Cairo staff to launch new website

The crisis plaguing Doha-based website Islam online has deteriorated in the wake of a decision by Qatar’s minister of social affairs to oust prominent Egyptian-born cleric Sheikh Youssef el-Qaradawi from his position as head of the Qatari Al-Balagh Soceity, which owns the website. Society Vice-President Ibrahim al-Ansari is reportedly slated to succeed el-Qaradawi.

Protesting employees from the website’s Cairo office continued their strike for the tenth consecutive day, announcing the launch of a new initiative entitled, Alam al-Umma, or "Islamic Nation Info," with the goal of establishing a new website aimed at promoting "moderate" Islam. They called upon Egypt’s newly-appointed Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayyib, to endorse the move.

Office staff members say they have received messages of solidarity from a number of public figures, who also condemned el-Qaradawi’s dismissal. These, say striking workers, have included Mohamed Salim el-Awa, vice president of the International Union of Muslim Scholars; author Fahmi Huweidi; journalist Amr el-Shobaki; and Diaa Rashwan of the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies; along with a number of other Muslim scholars. Staff members say that a Coptic delegation will join their protest tomorrow to express solidarity with their cause.

Officials at Qatar’s embassy in Egypt were unavailable for comment on the issue when contacted by Al-Masry Al-Youm.

Notably, el-Qaradawi’s dismissal came only two days after the respected Muslim scholar had declared that the crisis was on the verge of resolution.

Egyptian Journalists Syndicate Undersecretary Salah Abdel Maqsoud reportedly urged the Al-Balagh society to reconsider a decision to move the website’s headquarters from Cairo, saying that agreement might still be reached. He said he planned to visit his colleagues at the website to discuss forming a panel of prominent personalities mandated with resolving the dispute.

Protesters issued a statement condemning a recent decision to disband the society’s board of directors and appoint an interim board–comprised of several of el-Qaradawi’s opponents–in its place. Some suspect the move was instigated by the highest echelons of the Qatari government, especially since Ali el-Amadi–a prime instigator of the crisis and member of the temporary board–was the one who initially notified el-Qaradawi of his dismissal, out of keeping, say critics, with the tact usually afforded to such a prominent scholar.

Website Editor-in-Chief Hisham Gaafar said the new initiative would be a joint stock company, shares in which would be made available to anyone interested in taking part. Staff members, he explained, would participate by donating part of their salaries that they had not received yet from the Al-Balagh Society.

Gaafar called upon all moderate Muslim clerics and personalities to endorse the initiative, which, he assured, would handle all donations transparently. He also stressed that there would be clear regulations as to how donations would be received and spent. "Donor representatives will be allowed to monitor every step, he said.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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