France's barring of Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Yusuf al-Qaradawi represents a major upset in the group's quest for mainstream European acceptance, argues the Jerusalem Post's Yaakov Lappin. While the United States and other European countries are extending red carpet welcomes to the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, France is showing concern about Brotherhood outreach to Muslims at home.
The decision signals a major shift in France's willingness to impede radical Islam at home, Lappin claims, even if banning Qaradawi and other clerics won't stop the international reach of his fatwas. "Sarkozy's decision is about France, and Europe in general, where second- and third-generation Muslims are asserting themselves more and more through Islamist identities," said Esther Webman, a senior research fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University.
"Qaradawi is an important spiritual leader, maybe the most important, [hence] the message sent by Sarkozy is very important," said Professor Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University. "A major, important European state makes the point that it does not see the Muslim Brotherhood as a moderate movement. The French signal to the West [is] to slow down its attempt to launch a dialogue [with the Brotherhood]."
Qaradawi's International Union of Muslim Scholars hasn't received the blacklisting quietly. The group declared that it was an "insult to all Muslims," a form of Islamophobia, and an attempt to please France's pro-Israel lobby following the Toulouse murders.