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Muslim cleric issues fatwa against potential presidential candidate Mohamed ElBaradei

(ANHRI/IFEX) - 20 December 2010 - ANHRI regrets that Mahmoud Amer, a Muslim cleric in charge of the Ansar el Sunnah el Muhammadiya association in Damanhur, has issued a fatwa against Mohamed ElBaradei, the former president of the International Atomic Energy Agency and a possible candidate for the Egyptian presidency. The fatwa calls on ElBaradei to repent, and failure to do so would give the Egyptian government the right to imprison or kill him to prevent an act of sedition.

On the association's website, Amer presents himself as someone who holds a bachelor's in Islamic law and a diploma in preaching. These degrees - if legitimate - are not equivalent to a master's degree and therefore make him ineligible to issue fatwas.

Amer posted the following on the his website: "ElBaradei declaration under Islamic law: ElBaradei should not make these statements. Having done so he has to declare his repentance, otherwise the ruler has the right to imprison or kill him to prevent sedition and silence his supporters!"

This extremist fatwa came several days after ElBaradei criticised the rigging of the last public elections and asserted that every citizen has the right to engage in peaceful demonstration to demand change.

Earlier, a group of pro-government journalists launched a smear campaign against ElBaradei in which they published family photos and intruded in his private life, toppling all principles of political rivalry and trying to mar his public image. However, the campaign generated a backlash against the government as Egyptians resented these actions, and resulted in more support for the seven demands ElBaradei has made for democratic reform.

Gamal Eid, ANHRI's executive director, said, "This association published a statement in 2005 calling for support for President Mubarak as a 'Khalif' (leader of all Muslims). Kareem Amer, a secular blogger and a former prisoner of conscience, slammed this position heavily on his blog and was subsequently sentenced to one year in prison for insulting the president. Today, the same association issued this cheap, hypocritical fatwa, calling for the murder of ElBaradei for expressing his opinions, which thousands and maybe millions of Egyptian share and support."

"This fatwa inciting to murder is reminiscent of the fatwas of the 1990s calling for the killing of secular writers and intellectuals, which lead to the assassination of Farag Fuda and an attempt to kill Naguib Mahfouz, a Noble Laureate. We cannot live in that atmosphere of terror again. The government has to take a clear stance on these fatwas calling for the assassination of political rivals, since the government's indifference in these situations implies its approval and represent a license to kill. In May 2010, the government did nothing about a call from some MPs and National Democratic Party (NDP) members to shoot demonstrators. We will not accept the government's indifference regarding this fatwa," added Eid.

The website of the Ansar el Sunnah el Muhammadiya association was created by a Saudi extremist institute in order to promote hard-line Wahabi ideals. ANHRI sees this as an indicator of the popularity of this radical way of thinking that is intolerant of political criticism and differences in general.

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