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I did not convert: son of Egyptian Sunni preacher

Poem denies Shiite conversion, calls for Muslim unity

Poet Abdul-Rahman Yusuf, son of prominent Egyptian preacher Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, denied rumors circulating on several websites that he had converted to the Shiite faith.

In a poem entitled "Too Much for You," published Tuesday in the Egyptian independent al-Dostor, Yusuf called for the unity of the Muslim nation in the face of a common enemy that does not distinguish between sects and which strives to destroy both Sunnis and Shiites while they are busy fighting each other.

Some websites attributed to Lebanese preacher Ali al-Kourani statements indicating that Qaradwi lashed out at what he called "the Shiite infiltration" because of his indignation at his son's conversion to the Shiite faith.

This allegation was followed by a denial from Qatari sources close to Qaradawi and from Mohamed al-Derini, leader of Egyptian Shiites. But Yusuf's silence stirred more controversy, especially after a statement he posted on his website denying that he had talked to the press about the rumors.

Abdul-Rahman Yusuf is Qaradawi's third son. He has a B.A. and M.A. in Sharia (Islamic law) and is known as a poet critical of the Egyptian regime and sympathetic to the Shiite Lebanese group Hezbollah.

Yusuf took part in the Islamist group's conference in Qana in 2007 and published a collection of poems called Write the History of the Future, in which he glorified the victory of Hezbollah and praised its secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah.

The dispute between Qaradawi and Shiite scholars emerged in the aftermath of statements the former made to the Egyptian independent al-Masry al-Youm in which he warned of a Shiite infiltration of Sunni nations.

This was followed by a wave of criticism from the Iranian Mehr News Agency and in which Qaradawi was labeled a Zionist agent and accused of inciting sedition. Qaradawi then responded with a statement explaining his concerns.

In what seemed to be a containment of the crisis, Qaradawi and Ali Akbar Wilayati, counselor to the Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, embraced at a conference in the Qatari capital Doha.

Wilayati also headed a delegation that visited Qaradawi and apologized for Mehr's statements, saying that they did not represent the official opinion of the Iranian government.

But Qaradawi reportedly refused to sign a joint statement with the Iranian delegation unless it commits to halting the Shiite incursion into historically Sunni nations, the Saudi newspaper al-Watan said Wednesday


(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)