Palestinian sources in the occupied West Bank claim that the Palestinian Authority (PA) has launched a campaign against those West Bank Imams who did not follow the officially prepared Friday sermon, which attacked Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi. A number of arrests have been made, with other Imams summoned to attend security headquarters for investigation. It is common for Imams in the Arab world to be compelled to follow the government's line in the sermons which accompany the midday Friday prayers. The text in question had been prepared by the PA's Minister of Waqf and Religious Affairs, Mahmoud Al-Habbash.
The Imams of six mosques in the Tulkarem district were arrested, as were a number of worshippers in Nablus and Hebron after they protested against the attacks on Sheikh Al-Qaradawi, who is the President of the World Federation of Muslim Scholars.
In his official text, Mr. Al-Habbash called on Sheikh Al-Qaradawi to retract remarks that he had made about PA President Mahmoud Abbas. "The remarks were," said Mr. Al-Habbash, "contrary to the basic rules of Islamic ethics which should be displayed by Islamic scholars and Imams." Speaking during the prayers at Martyr Yasser Arafat Mosque in Ramallah, he added, "To go back to the right path is a thousand times better for you [Sheikh Al-Qaradawi] than sticking to falsehood."