Youssef al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian theologian who was regarded as the Muslim Brotherhood's spiritual head and emerged as the Islamist "voice of revolution" during the Arab Spring upheavals more than ten years ago, passed away on Monday at the age of 96.
Al-Qaradawi, whose passing was announced on his official website, played a key role in developing the Brotherhood's philosophy of using democratic processes to bring about Islamic rule in Egypt and other countries during the 1990s and 2000s. His detractors charged that the Brotherhood and he were covering up extremism with polite language.
When Egypt's longtime despot Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in 2011, that ideology was put to the test on the ground, and the results were terrible.
In the ensuing, most democratic elections ever conducted in Egypt, the Brotherhood won and took control. However, Brotherhood actions increased rivals' concerns that the group wanted to consolidate power. After massive demonstrations, the army expelled the Brotherhood in 2013 and brutally put an end to it. Rights organizations have attacked President Abdel Fattah el-subsequent Sissi's regime as being more despotic than Mubarak's.
Al-Qaradawi passed away in Qatar, a country in the Gulf Arab region where he had been living in exile for years and had received assistance from the royal family. He was tried and given a death sentence in Egypt in 2013 when he was not present.