Extremism Spotlight: Yusuf al-Qaradawi Benefits From Legitimization Through Social Media

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Qaradawi on Twitter and Facebook, both featuring a verified user checkmark. He has more than two million followers on Twitter and likes on Facebook.

Source: Counter Extremism Project, January 18, 2019

Muslim Brotherhood-Affiliated Islamist Maintains Extensive Online Presence Despite Extremist Rhetoric

Seven years ago, notorious ISIS propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki was killed in a U.S. drone strike; but even in his death, his works and lectures continue to live on in the Internet. However, after years of advocacy from the Counter Extremism Project (CEP), in November 2017, Awlaki’s online presence on YouTube was reduced from 70,000 results to dozens. Although Awlaki’s content remains online, especially on other websites, many other extremists remain online too and their works also calling for radicalization, terrorism and violence are still all too accessible. Starting with Yusuf al-Qaradawi, CEP will begin spotlighting the other worst of the worst online propagandists who must be removed from the public consciousness.

“A years-long CEP campaign was ultimately successful in convincing Google that Awlaki’s radicalizing lectures and sermons were dangerously linked to acts of terrorism and lives lost,” said CEP CEO Ambassador Mark D. Wallace. “It is time for Google and other Internet and social media companies to recognize that the example of Awlaki is not unique and that there are others, like Qaradawi, whose messages are just as dangerous. Their content should be swiftly and permanently removed.”

Qaradawi is a Doha-based Islamist theologian and the unofficial spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. He maintains a substantial online presence despite his prior support for suicide bombings in Israel and attacks on U.S. troops and civilians in Iraq. He is the chairman of the Union of Good, an organization designated as a financial conduit for Hamas by the U.S. government in 2008. Qaradawi is also the founder of the Dublin-based European Council for Fatwa and Research (ECFR), a Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated organization that issues fatwas for European Muslims in an effort to enforce a parallel legal system of sharia (Islamic law). Qaradawi has additionally called for the execution of gay people, called the Holocaust “divine punishment” and has claimed that women can provoke rape.

“What makes Qaradawi unique from other extremists are the ways in which his presence is condoned by social media, specifically through Facebook and Twitter’s verified user checkmark,” said CEP researcher Joshua Fisher-Birch. “While some may say a small virtual blue checkmark is meaningless, it’s far from the case. Qaradawi’s verification legitimizes his brand of extremism.  When combined with his frequent media appearances on Al Jazeera, that makes it easier to find his videos on social media and video streaming sites and further challenges any possibility of online removal.”​​

A CEP analysis shows that searches for variations of Qaradawi’s name can lead to hundreds of results, with his Arabic name leading to 75,600. The majority of content in English searches is taken from MEMRI TV, Qaradawi’s media appearances, Qaradawi’s speeches, or has been posted by anti-Muslim organizations. Content located in Arabic searches for Qaradawi is mostly news program interviews and other media appearances, speeches and videos made either about Qaradawi, or featuring his edicts.

Lastly, Qaradawi has enjoyed a large media and online presence in the Middle East and beyond. His weekly Al Jazeera show “Sharia and Life” has an estimated viewership of 60 million people. Qaradawi is a co-founder of the popular website IslamOnline.net, which had an estimated 940,000 views in December 2018. His personal website, which is registered on GoDaddy and hosted on Cloudflare servers, includes numerous videos, articles, audio files and links to social media.

Qaradawi On The Internet

Websites

  • Personal Website

YouTube

  • A search for “Yusuf al-Qaradawi” on YouTube led to 1,290 results. (January 15, 2019)
  • A search for “Yusuf Qaradawi” on YouTube led to 221 results. (January 15, 2019)
  • A search for “وسف القرضاوي‎” (“Yousef al-Qaradawi”) on YouTube led to 75,600 results (January 15, 2019)
  • The majority of content in English searches is taken from MEMRI TV, Qaradawi media appearances, Qaradawi speeches or has been posted by anti-Muslim organizations.
  • Content located in Arabic searches for Qaradawi is mostly news program interviews and other media appearances, speeches and videos made either about Qaradawi, or featuring his edicts.

Selected YouTube Channels

 1. Channel name: قناة الإمام يوسف القرضاوي (Imam Yusuf Al – Qaradawi Channel)

  • # of Yusuf al-Qaradawi videos: 1,114
  • Subscribers: 34,334 (January 15, 2019)
  • Views: 5,906,736 (January 15, 2019)
  • Created: January 29, 2013
  • Last video upload: January 13, 2019

 2. Channel name: الشيخ يوسف القرضاوي  (Sheikh Yusuf Al – Qaradawi)

 3. Channel name: يوسف القرضاوي (Yousif Al Qardawi)

Twitter

 Name: يوسف القرضاوي (Yousif Al Qardawi) (Verified account)

  • URL: https://twitter.com/alqaradawy
  • Followers: 2.28M+ (January 15, 2018)
  • Tweets: 9,557
  • Created: May 2011
  • Last post: January 15, 2019
  • Note: Official Twitter-verified account for Qaradawi.

Facebook

  1. Individual/Group Name: الشيخ يوسف القرضاوي (Sheikh Yusuf Al – Qaradawi) (Verified account)
    • URL: https://www.facebook.com/alqaradawy/?ref=py_c
    • Likes/Followers: 2,279,291/2,282,533 (January 15, 2019)
    • Created: May 4, 2011
    • Last post: January 15, 2019
    • Note: The Facebook profile also contains content from Qaradawi’s Twitter and YouTube account.
  2. Individual/Group Name: د.يوسف القرضاوي Al Qaradawi
    • URL: https://www.facebook.com/Qaradawi/
    • Likes/Followers: 668,462/666,501 (January 15, 2019)
    • Created: August 9, 2009
    • Last Post: December 1, 2017
    • Note: A popular unofficial Qaradawi Facebook page.
  3. Individual/Group Name: Yusuf Al-Qaradawy (Official)
  4. Individual/Group Name: Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi