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Brotherhood Spiritual Leader Denounces Death Sentences

Senior Muslim cleric Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi has condemned death sentences passed on himself, former Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi and 105 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood group over a mass jail break in 2011.

In a video statement posted on Qaradawi’s twitter account, the elderly Qatar-based cleric who is also a spiritual leader for the Muslim Brotherhood said the rulings were “nonsense” and violated Islamic law.

“These rulings have no value and cannot be implemented because they are against the rules of God, against the people’s law…no one will accept it,” Qaradawi said in the statement, which was broadcast by Al Jazeera’s Arabic news channel in Qatar.

In line with all death sentences, the decisions issued on Saturday will be referred to the grand mufti, Egypt’s religious authority, for a non-binding opinion.

A final court ruling is expected on June 2.

The charges relate to Mursi’s escape along with other Brotherhood leaders from a prison north of Cairo during the 2011 Arab Spring unrest. Qaradawi denied involvement in the escape in his video statement and said he was in Qatar at the time.

An Egyptian regarded as one of Islam’s top thinkers, Qaradawi’s religious shows on Al Jazeera have been watched by millions.

His criticism of Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, the former army chief elected to succeed Mursi after a popularly backed takeover in 2013, has added to a rift between Qatar and other Gulf Arab states.

Regional powerhouse Saudi Arabia considers the Islamist group a terrorist organisation and has heavily funded Sisi’s cash-strapped government.

Amid the tensions, Qaradawi’s televised Friday sermons have gone off the air, but he continues to criticize Egypt’s new rulers in conferences and statements to the press and followers.

“It’s the right of people to revolt against corruption and unfairness. I still call on people to revolt,” Qaradawi said.

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