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Quote of the Week

Update on Muhammad Hussein Yaqub: Terrorist or Traitor?

This is what the Egyptian cleric Muhammad Hussein Yaqub said in 2009 on an Egyptian television station:

"If the Jews left Palestine to us, would we start loving them?
Of course not. We will never love them. . .
They are enemies not because they occupied Palestine.
They would have been enemies even if they did not occupy a thing. . .
You must believe that we will fight, defeat and annihilate them
until not a single Jew remains on the face of the earth. . ."

Muhamad Hussein Yaqub(Salafist)Sheikh Yacoub entered the Cairo Tora Court complex as a witness and was about to leave as either a terrorist or a traitor to his fans. He chose the latter. “I don’t know anything about Salafism,” he said.

Mohamad Hussein Yaqoub, one of Egypt’s most influential and extremist Salafi sheikhs, who spread the Salafi word around the world with his sermons on cassette tapes and on TV, is currently being heard in court in the ISIS Imbaba case, in which 12 individuals stand accused of a series of terrorist attacks.

Sheikhs such as Yaqoub started to appear in the 1980s under the reign of former President Hosni Mubarak, who supported the Salafist movement with the aim of creating a rival, and perhaps an alternative, to the Muslim Brotherhood founded by Hassan al-Banna.

Under Mubarak, the number of sheikhs rapidly multiplied, each with an even more radical approach to religion. Yaqoub was arguably the most prominent, and the cruelest. He advocated the predominance of religion in virtually everything and called for the establishment of an Islamic state.

One day, a group was formed that carried out a bombing in downtown Cairo, targeted a bank in Giza, and participated in other terrorist operations. According to case papers “271 of 2021,” the group had pledged allegiance to ISIS and operated under the name “ISIS Imbaba Cell.

“I Do Not Know Them.”

Following their arrest, the group members did not hide the source of their ideas. They said they were students of Sheikhs Muhammad Hassan and Muhammad Hussein Yaqoub. They had adopted their ideas after hearing them in fatwas and sermons performed by the two Salafi Sheikhs. The same sheikhs whose influence spread after appearing on the famous “Al-Nas” TV channel, who did not come to the rescue of the seven defendants who fell into the hands of the Egyptian security

Perhaps the defendants had hoped for the two sheikhs to storm into the courtroom and prove, with evidence from Qur’an and Sunnah, that the acts for which they stand trial were nothing but “orders from God” to reconstruct the universe and implement divine law on earth.

But none of that happened. Despite being summoned, Sheikh Muhammad Hassan missed the first court session and he submitted a medical report to excuse him from attending the second session.

Seated in a wheelchair, Sheikh Hussein Yaqoub entered the courtroom, only to take back most of the statements he’d made in the past, and renounce the accused and their ideas. He even proclaimed that he was not a scholar but merely a reader with “a teacher’s diploma.” In response to the defendants’ plea that they were his “disciples,” he said: “They are not my students and I do not know them.”

In other words, Sheikh Yaqoub decided to jump ship as soon as felt the heat, disavowing his followers, faith and Salafi ideas.

His “martyrdom” widely echoed in the religious circles that had witnessed his emergence and had listened to his cries and fatwas live on air to compel Muslims to abide, warning them of the torment of hell’s fire, the wrath of the snake, the horror of the hereafter …

He was the first to advocate and support the foundation of a religious state in Egypt. In one of the referendums after the fall of the Mubarak regime in 2011, he appeared with his now famous slogan: And the Voter’s Boxes Said to Religion: Yes.” 

The referendum of course meant nothing more but a fight between two political factions, one of which supported the new constitution proposal, while the other rejected it. The political Islam faction, to which Yaqoub and his companions belong, was mobilizing to approve the new constitution, arguing it to be “halal,” while claiming that the old one would be considered “haram” (forbidden).

The religious forces at that time formulated multiple narratives revolving around the position that approving the constitution was a religious victory bringing Egypt closer to God, making it a state in which Sharia prevails. Rejecting it would make Egypt a hostage to the liberals, secularists and “the enemies of religion.”

“People said ‘yes’ to religion and ‘no’ to secularism,” said Sheikh Yaqoub. “This is our country, and whoever does not like it can emigrate.”

His words were a warning alerting everyone to the extremism of the Islamic movement, the Salafi sheikhs, and the path they embarked on in an attempt to turn Egypt into a religious state. Disregarding the country’s cultural and political history, their statements and fatwas piled up, until they became one of the main reasons for the Islamic trend to fail.

Incitement to Jihad

Most Salafi sheikhs in Egypt stay away from calling for jihad in public in order not to get involved in explicit accusations of terrorism, and it is not possible to find fatwas by Sheikh Yaqoub that incite terrorism or promote jihadist ideology, as he was always keen not to be caught the wrong way. 

However, some of his fatwas did declare that Coptic feasts are “taboo,” celebrating Valentine’s Day is a “sin,” working in banks is “cooperating with sin and aggression,” falling in love a “sin,” also, singing as “forbidden” and jihad “a calling and legitimate duty,” without clarifying exactly what he meant by jihad. 

In addition to the slander targeting many segments of Egyptian society, Sheikh Yacoub glorified the sheikhs and founders of terrorist organizations, as well as those carrying arms. >>>

Hani Mohamad, Egyptian Journalist, June 17, 2021
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