Youssef al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian-born cleric based in Qatar, resists pressure and decides not to include Britain in his boycott fatwa out of "appreciation of the position of the British people"! He gave personal interviews to Reuters <http://www.reuters.co.uk/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=2083970 &fromEmail=true> , Channel 4 (see below), London Tonight (ITN), and BBC Arabic. The press conference was attended by the Daily Telegraph, The Times, Independent, and FT amongst others, as well as Al-Jazeerah <http://www.aljazeera.net/news/arabic/2003/1/1-23-1.htm> . The Shaikh was also invited to appear on Newsnight, but had to decline due his heavy schedule. He touched on many points, including the call to make February 15th a day of worldwide action in support of the Iraqi people, and against the American aggression. He thanked the huge sector of public opinion in Britain who are against the war, from the left-wing to the churches. Cleric urges Britain to avert Iraq war By Gideon Long LONDON (Reuters) - Moderate Muslims still hope Britain can restrain the United States and persuade it not to attack Iraq, one of Islam's leading scholars says. Youssef al-Qaradawi, a widely respected Egyptian-born cleric based in Qatar, warned, however, that if the United States went to war against Saddam Hussein, Muslims from across the world would flock to Iraq to defend it. In an interview with Reuters, Qaradawi said Washington's self-declared war on terror had failed and had succeeded only in "undermining Islam and dismembering the Muslim world". He repeated his call for Osama bin Laden to hand himself over for trial in an international court if, as the United States alleges, his al Qaeda network carried out the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon 16 months ago. Qaradawi, dean of the College of Sharia and Islamic studies in Qatar, is considered a moderate Muslim who has steered a difficult course between condemning both the attacks of September 11 and U.S. policy towards the Muslim world. One of Islam's most influential voices, he has issued a fatwa urging Muslims to boycott U.S. and Israeli goods. However, he has resisted extending the fatwa to include Britain, even though London has been Washington's staunchest ally in the war against terror and over Iraq. "Numerous voices in the Arab and Muslim world have called for Britain to be included in the boycott," Qaradawi said. "However, the majority of people and scholars across the Muslim world continue to hope Britain will disassociate itself from America and will change its position." BLAIR MIGHT STILL INTERVENE He said Prime Minister Tony Blair might still be swayed by popular domestic opposition to war and might in turn convince U.S. President George W. Bush to back down in his increasingly tense stand-off with Saddam. "The overwhelming majority of the British people, as we understand, are opposed to war against Iraq in spite of the fact the British government seems adamant on going to war," said Qaradawi, speaking through an interpreter. "Out of appreciation of the position of the British people, we have not included Britain in this call for a boycott." Qaradawi's fatwa has led Muslims to develop their own alternatives to imported U.S. products. The most famous example is Mecca Cola, an Islamic version of Coca Cola. "I believe the fatwa has had an enormous influence in many countries," Qaradawi said. "Some commercial outlets have closed down in Egypt and elsewhere, while others have been complaining of dwindling profits or increasing losses. He applauded the emergence of home-grown Islamic products, saying Muslims should rely on them "rather than succumbing to a social and cultural invasion from outside". DIRE CONSEQUENCES OF WAR WITH IRAQ Qaradawi, who rarely addresses the Western media, said a conflict in Iraq would have dire consequences. "No one can control the sentiment and feeling of people across the Muslim world and we may see volunteers flocking from everywhere towards Iraq, and no one will be able to prevent them or send them back," he warned. "Some may flock to Iraq to defend it but some may resort to avenging their anger against America and Britain in their own way," he added, saying terror attacks against Western targets would almost certainly increase. Qaradawi, who regularly appears as a commentator on Al Jazeera satellite television in the Gulf, said he had no idea whether bin Laden was still alive or where he might be, and repeated his call for the al Qaeda leader to surrender. "Whether the perpetrator (of the September 11 attacks) was Bin Laden or others, they should come before an international court of justice to investigate them and try them," he said. "Osama may be killed, he may die, he may disappear. However, 1,000 other Osamas may appear. What really matters are the reasons why an Osama bin Laden exists."