A senior Muslim cleric has condemned death sentences passed on himself, the former Egyptian president and 105 Muslim brotherhood members, calling the rulings “nonsense”.
Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, who is the spiritual leader of the brotherhood and based in Qatar, posted a video statement on his Twitter account claiming the sentences violated Islamic law.
“These rulings have no value and cannot be implemented because they are against the rules of God, against the people's law...no one will accept it," Qaradawi said in the statement, which Al Jazeera broadcast in Qatar.
The death sentences relate to a mass jail break in 2011 from a prison north of Cairo, which saw former president Mohamed Morsi and 105 Muslim Brotherhood leaders escape during the Arab Spring unrest. Qaradawi claims he had no involvement in the affair and was in Qatar at the time.
A court is expected to finalise Saturday’s sentences on 2 June, after they have been referred to Egypt’s grand mufti for a religious, non-binding opinion.
Qaradawi is considered one of Egypt’s top Islamic intellectuals and his religious programmes on Al-Jazeera are watched by millions of people.
But his criticism of Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, the new Egyptian president who succeeded Morsi, has led to a rift between Qatar and other Gulf nations.
The cleric’s televised sermons have since been taken off the air, but Qaradawi continues to criticise the Egyptian government in conferences and statements.
“It's the right of people to revolt against corruption and unfairness. I still call on people to revolt,” Qaradawi said in one.
Qaradawi was refused a visa to enter Britain in 2008 and is banned from entering the United States. His earlier visit to the UK in 2004 sparked protests from Jewish and LGBT groups, who view the cleric as anti-Semitic and homophobic.
He also defended suicide attacks on Israelis in a BBC interview, claiming it was "martyrdom in the name of God".
Additional reporting by ReutersReuse content