File photo: Influential Muslim cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi (Photo: AFP)
Senior Al-Azhar scholars have lashed out at influential Muslim cleric Yusuf Al-Qaradawi for his pro-Muslim Brotherhood statements, with some calling for prosecuting him for 'high treason,' according to Ahram Daily.
Qaradawi, one of the most prominent Egyptian Sunni academics in modern history, who chairs the International Union of Muslim Scholars, has recently come under fire for backing toppled Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as his perceived sedition against Egypt's army and police.
Abbas Shoman, under-secretary of Al-Azhar - the highest institutional authority in Sunni Islam, has hit out at Qaradawi for what he has termed "hysterical" statements calling for intervention from the West following Morsi's overthrow and in response to the interim-government's recent crackdown on Islamists.
Many of Al-Azhar's scholars have urged excluding the controversial cleric from the institution's Senior Scholars Authority. However, Ahmed Al-Tayeb, Al-Azhar's Grand Sheikh, has refused, according to Shoman.
Others have even suggested stripping Al-Qaradawi of his nationality.
"His inflammatory fatwas [edicts] would be considered under any constitution and law to be high treason, and could lead to the individual being stripped of their nationality," said Ahmed Karima, Islamic Sharia professor.
Islamic scholars are not alone in taking issue with the prominent sheikh. Some political activists have also condemned his "rabble-rousing" speeches.
"He continues to incite violence and murder in his sermons against police, army and the people, proving allegations that he serves foreign agendas," said Mohamed Moussa of the Conference Party.
Al-Qaradawy was long held in awe by millions of Muslims until he publicly backed Morsi's Brotherhood during their year in power and later lambasted the army for his ouster.
He has strongly condemned Al-Azhar's Grand Imam for giving his blessing to the military's overthrow of president Morsi, further infuriating the Islamic institution.
Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president, was toppled on 3 July amid massive nationwide protests against his turbulent year in power, evoking strong reactions both for and against his rule.
Hundreds have been killed in bitter political unrest, pitting Islamists against Morsi's opponents and security forces.
Al-Qaradawi hosts a popular show on Al-Jazeera satellite television network, which has been accused by Egyptian authorities and public media of Brotherhood-biased reporting of events in Egypt.