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Jordan’s Ambiguous Honors to Prominent Muslims

7:50 AM, Oct 22, 2010 • By STEPHEN SCHWARTZ
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But King Abdullah II also hung a medal on a more ambiguous figure, Ahmad Tayeb, the top cleric at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, considered the main Sunni theological institution in the world. Tayeb delivered an opinion supporting suicide terror in Israel in 2002, but he also dealt harshly with Brotherhood supporters at the school in 2006. Earlier this year, Tayeb surprised Muslims around the world by banning the face-veil (niqab) for female students.

And a Jordanian token of distinction also went to Amr Khalid, an enormously popular Egyptian Islamic televangelist, who had been criticized by Qaradawi for insufficient commitment to “revenge and rage” during the Danish Muhammad cartoons controversy in 2006.

Playing all sides is an old, old game in the Arab East. But Jordan’s simultaneous honors to backward-looking fundamentalists like Qaradawi and weak “modernizers” like Amr Khalid poses the question anew: In Amman, which side will prevail?

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