Today I'm wondering what those clerics of Al Azhar were saying between 2003 and 2010, when hundreds of Muslims volunteered to become suicide bombers in Iraq. Mohammed M. Hafez of the United States Institute of Peace wrote in his book Suicide Bombers in Iraq: the strategy and ideology of martyrdom:
Support for martyrdom came not only from radical bastions of Islamism such as Iran or Heabollah in southern Lebanon, but also from traditionally conservative institutions such as Egypt’s al-Azhar. Notable religious figures such as Sheikh Ahmed al-Teyyeb, mufti of Egypt, and Sheikh Muhammad Tantawi, imam of al-Azhar, affirmed the right of Palestinians to carry out “martyrdom operations” against Israelis. Yusuf al-Qardawi, a widely respected Muslim leader who has a weekly program, al-Saria wal-Hayat (Islamic Law and Life), on Al Jazeera satellite television, repeatedly issued religious rulings upholding the legitimacy of “martyrdom operations.”
Although al-Qardawi and other religious authorities did not endorse suicide attacks in Iraq, their support for these attacks in the Palestinian-Israeli context was sufficient to lead jihadists in Iraq to ask, “What is different about occupation in Palestine and occupation in Iraq?” The culture of martyrdom spawned by earlier waves of suicide attacks had created the template necessary for justifying suicide terrorism in Iraq.
A week ago a 'leading scholar from al-Azhar said on Friday that protesting is forbidden in Islam. Saeed Amer, head of the Fatwa – religious opinions – Committee at Al Azhar, Egypt and the Sunni Islamic world leading Sunni institute told al-Shourok newspaper that demonstrations that cause violence is “Haram,” or forbidden, within the religion.'
Today the Angry Arab wrote poignantly: "The Mufti of Al-Azhar--the religious institution that has only produced misogyny, repression, intolerance, fanaticism, and obscurantism--called Mubarak and expressed support for dictatorship. What do you expect from a bunch of unlearned clerics who produce fatwas for a fee?"