DOHA — The International Union of Muslim Scholars headed by influential cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi organised a rally in Qatar on Friday in support of anti-government protesters in Syria.
Members of the opposition Syrian National Council, which has been meeting in the capital Doha, joined the rally by several hundred people after the main weekly Muslim prayers, an AFP correspondent reported.
Qaradawi told demonstrators that the rally was aimed at “supporting the people of Syria,” where more than 6,000 people have been killed since pro-democracy protests erupted in March last year, according to activists.
The Sunni cleric called on Syrian troops ordered to take part in the government’s deadly crackdown to “align with the people and let go of the regime.”
Another leading member of Qaradawi’s grouping, Salahudin Sultan, appealed to Gulf leaders to arm rebel fighters in Syria and send troops to back them.
“King of Saudi Arabia, emir of Qatar, take out the weapons and hand them over to those free people,” Sultan said.
“As you sent your Peninsula Shield Force into Bahrain, move them towards Syria,” he added, referring to the Gulf military force deployed to member state Bahrain last March to help the kingdom’s Sunni rulers put down Shiite-led pro-democracy protests.
Qaradawi, who also backed the Arab Spring uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, launched a fund-raising effort for the Syrian opposition with a donation of 10,000 Qatari riyals ($2,746).
The six Gulf Cooperation Council states have expelled Syria’s ambassadors and recalled their own envoys from Damascus. They are to meet in Cairo on Sunday to consider further action.