File photo: Egyptian cleric Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi arrives to lead the Friday prayers in Tahrir Square in Cairo February 18, 2011 (Photo: Reuters)
Yousef El-Qaradawi, an influential Islamic scholar who is close to the Muslim Brotherhood, has announced that he has resigned from an advisory body within Al-Azhar.
In a statement on his personal Facebook page on Sunday, the scholar said that he was resigning from Al-Azhar's Supreme Clerical Committee, a key advisory body within the institution.
In the statement, the cleric lashed out at the religious institution's support for the "military coup" against the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi, who was ousted from the presidency in July.
"I present my resignation to the Egyptian people because they are the true owner of Al-Azhar, and not the sheikh of Al-Azhar," read the statement.
A high-level official at Al-Azhar Abbas Shouman, who spoke by phone on Mehwar TV channel on Monday night, said that the institution had not received any official notification of his resignation.
El-Qaradawi described the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed El-Tayyeb, and other key leaders within the institution, as supporters of "a military coup that raped the office of the Egyptian president."
The cleric, who is currently in Qatar, also criticised the high clerical committee for not speaking out against "recent massacres" and "crimes" that have "terrorised" the Egyptian people.
Several scholars within Al-Azhar demanded in July that the administration revoke El-Qaradawi's membership of the committee for insulting El-Tayyeb. Officials within Al-Azhar had said that El-Qaradawi's membership could not be revoked.
The cleric left Egypt in 1961 after being detained three times during former president Gamal Abdel-Nasser's regime. He moved to Qatar in 1962, and returned to Egypt in 2011 after the ouster of president Hosni Mubarak.
El-Qaradawi, seen as a vocal supporter of the Brotherhood, has come in for strong criticism recently in the Egyptian media and on social networks for his attacks on the Egyptian army during his TV programme, broadcast on the Al Jazeera channel. In one appearance he called for jihad against "military rule" in Egypt.