A University of Oxford lecturer has praised the legacy of a rabidly antisemitic Islamist cleric and suggested that his teachings had been “wilfully misconstrued”.
The Jewish Chronicle reports that Dr Usaama al-Azami, a Departmental Lecturer in Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford’s Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, made the remarks at a memorial and prayer service for the late Yusuf al-Qaradawi hosted by the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) on Saturday 1 October.
Al-Qaradawi had a track record of public antisemitism, including a call for the “annihilation” of Jews in a TV sermon. He also claimed that the Holocaust, in which six million Jews were killed, was “divine punishment”.
“In the West in particular we need to reflect on his [al-Qaradawi’s] legacy because it is often so badly vilified in this context,” the lecturer told attendees at the Maedah Banqueting Hall in East London.
He added: “People have wilfully misconstrued and misrepresented the teachings of a scholar whose legacy if they truly understood it would be transformative to the way in which Muslims can contribute in every society and every time.”
The cleric’s “greatest contribution is to help us think of a world where actually it is possible for you to live true to your faith,” he said.