Yusuf Qaradawi ba i en preken fredag om sunni-jihad mot alawitter og shiaer. Han omtalte dem i svært foraktfulle vendinger.

Yusef al-Qaradawi, who is based in Qatar and has been a leading voice supporting the Arab Spring, warned that Iranian Shia were trying to «eat» Sunni Muslims, who are a majority in the Muslim world.

He referred to Alawites, the followers of the Muslim sect to which President Bashar al-Assad of Syria belongs, as being «worse infidels than Christians or Jews». He also used the deliberately contemptuous term «Nusayris» when talking about them.

He was particularly critical of the roles played by Iran, which is largely Shia, and the Lebanon Shia militia Hizbollah whose name translates as Party of God but which he called «Party of Satan», in supporting the Assad regime.

«There is no common ground between the two sides because the Iranians, especially conservatives, want to eat the Sunni people,» he said.

The Syrian opposition is dominated, like Syria itself, by Sunni Muslims, but also includes a number of Christians, Alawites and other minorities.

his latest comments, made in a mosque in Qatar on Friday, go beyond his previous political sermons. He himself acknowledged he had become more radical. «People involved in reconciliation between the sects… said that I used to be the one calling for reconciliation and doctrinal unity. They asked why I don’t take up that call again.

«Well, I called for reconciliation but I found it did not bring the sects closer. They benefited from it and we failed to take advantage.»

He also apologised for his past words in favour of Hizbollah. «The Shia deceived me,» he said. «I was less mature than the Sunni scholars who were aware of the truth of that party.»

He said Sunni Muslims around the world should not wait for the West to help the rebel cause against the «Nusayris», the Iranians and «the party of God». «They are the party of Satan, the party of the tyrant,» he said. «The party of God does not kill Muslims, and these people draw close to God by killing Muslims.»