Islamic World News
Anti-Christmas’ Fatwa Troubles Egyptians
Muslims told to refrain from buying Christmas gifts by high-profile cleric.
Islamic ruling forbidding Muslims to participate in Christmas celebrations or mark the holiday is troubling Egypt’s Christians.
The call, which is being described as a fatwa, or Islamic decree, came from Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradawi, an influential firebrand cleric criticized in the West for his controversial rulings.
“Egypt has over the last two decades been infiltrated by Wahhabism,” Magdi Khalil, executive editor of Watani International and the Middle East Freedom Forum told The Media Line. “This culture and atmosphere is new in Egypt.”
The Egyptian-born Al-Qaradawi denounced the purchasing and selling of Christmas gifts, including Santa Claus dolls, Christmas trees and turkeys for Christmas dinner as “Christian and Western.”
Sales of Christmas gifts in Egypt have gone down by nearly a third this year because of the edict, according to one news report.
Christians contacted by The Media Line said they were unaware the fatwa had affected the celebrations or the Christmas revenues, but did express concern over the wider ramifications the fatwa may have on Christian minorities in Egypt and elsewhere.
In a Friday sermon, Al-Qaradawi criticized public celebrations of Christmas in Qatar and elsewhere in the Muslim world, claiming they undermined Islamic identity.
“Such appearances are prohibited by Islam,” he said. “Muslims participating in them are ignorant of Islamic teachings in this regard.”
George Ishaq, an Egyptian Christian and one of the founders of the opposition Kefaya movement, rejected the cleric’s sermon.