Head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, has announced that he is to visit the Gaza Strip on May 8 with a delegation of senior sheiks for a three-day tour, the Qatari newspaper Al-Arab said on Monday.
"I have decided to visit the Gaza Strip with a delegation of scholars from the IUMS in order to support its residents and contribute to lifting the siege imposed on them, as well as to send them a message saying that we are with them, supporting their persistence and standing beside them."
The Qatari Crown Prince, Sheikh Tamim al-Thani, was reported by the newspaper as saying he would commission a special plane for the IUMS members.
Al-Qaradawi thanked Sheikh Tamim for the plane, which is designed to carry the visitors to al-Areesh airport in Egypt. The airport is located in the Sinai Peninsula near to the Rafah Crossing. The delegation will avoid traveling 450km by car.
Al-Qaradawi, who is Egyptian and a Qatari passport holder, is considered by many to be a prominent and effective Muslim scholar. He is close to the Muslim Brotherhood. He boycotted the interfaith dialogue conference held in Qatar last week because of the attendance of Jews.
"As the conference was expanded to become Muslim, Christian and Jewish, I decided not to attend in order not to sit with Jews on one stage," he said.
The reason for his refusal to sit with Jews is "the Israeli usurpation of Palestine and Al-Aqsa Mosque, as well as their continuous destruction of God's houses (Israel's attacks against mosques and churches in occupied Palestine)", he said.
He stressed that he would adhere to his opinion as long as the Palestinian issue is not resolved.
However, the IUMS took part in the conference as its secretary General, Mohyiddin Qorrsaghi, attended the meetings.