Influential Muslim cleric Qaradawi visits Gaza

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Influential Muslim cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi on Wednesday started a visit to the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, crossing into the Palestinian territory at Rafah, on the border with Egypt.

An AFP photographer said Egyptian-born Qaradawi, who is a citizen of Qatar and close to the Muslim Brotherhood, arrived in the territory shortly after 9:30 pm (1830 GMT).

Sheikh Qaradawi led a delegation of 50 clerics from 14 countries and was greeted by Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya.

“Our whole ambition is to die on the path to Allah, and for long life to Palestine,” he said on arrival, adding that he was last in Gaza in 1958.

“I am sure we will conquer. Nobody thought that the people would triumph and oust the tyrants who ruled Egypt and Tunisia. And Syria will also emerge victorious, as well as Islam,” he said, referring to the Arab Spring revolts.

Haniya, in a welcome address, said it was “an honor for us to receive the sheikh of the Arab Spring on the soil of Palestine.”

Qaradawi has said the aim of the three-day trip to Gaza was to “support its people and participate in lifting the (Israeli) blockade against them.”

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