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Muslim television preacher returns to Egypt
Amr Khaled urged youth to practice peaceful coexistence and be tolerant of different cultures and ideas.
February 26th, 2011
12:57 PM ET

Muslim television preacher returns to Egypt

By Lauren E. Bohn, Special to CNN

As Egyptians returned to Tahrir Square to push for the realization of more political demands, one of the world’s most influential Muslim television preachers delivered his first address in Egypt since President Hosni Mubarak left office.

“I don’t have a stronger message than this: Kill yourself working for Egypt,” Amr Khaled told a crowd of thousands.

Khaled traveled to Sohag, a poor governorate in Upper Egypt, for the first time to deliver lectures. He announced the launch of a microfinance project and literacy and politic awareness campaigns.

Hagar Ashraf, 15, said it was the best day of her life. “It’s the first time to see him. I always saw him on television talking about hope,” she said. ‘That’s why I love him. Just hope. Nothing more.”

Heralded by many in the West as a voice of Islamic moderation, Khaled urged youth to practice peaceful coexistence and be tolerant of different cultures and ideas.

“The world is opening up for all of us,” he said.

It certainly is for Khaled who was one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2007. He has been banned from speaking in his native Egypt for the past eight years.

Khaled’s trademark brand of “faith-based development” and massive popularity among the nation’s young and restless was a thorn in the side of Mubarak’s regime. He was forced to leave Egypt several times as critics worried he was inspiring youth not only to change their lives, but also the regime. He returned to Cairo on January 28 to show his support for the revolution that wound up sweeping Mubarak from power.

“Blood has started to run in Egyptians’ veins,” he said. “I’m using all this energy and opportunity to, insha’allah, inspire youth to dedicate their lives to improving Egypt.”

Despite efforts made by Mubarak’s regime, the sharp-suited 43-year-old has turned into a celebrity over the years. Khaled was greeted with crowds, gifts and requests for autographs on his early morning flight and on Sohag’s dusty side streets.

Youth jumped on Khaled’s car as he left his lecture in the town’s square. They all wanted a piece of a man they say has inspired them not only to be better Muslims, but better people.

Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported that Facebook users from Egypt created 32,000 groups and 14,000 pages during the revolution; the page with the most fans from Egypt was Khaled’s.

With almost unparalleled popularity among youth in Egypt’s newly democratic space, many have questioned whether Khaled will run for a political position in the country’s future government.

“Why not? All the options now are open,” he said, adding that he’d only do so if it would “improve the renaissance” rather than simply ride the wave of the revolution.

Abodoma Fathy Mohammed, a 21-year-old medical student, joined Khaled’s Life Makers branch in Sohag a few years ago and says Khaled’s foray into politics would naturally extend the “amount of people he’s changed like me,” adding,  “you need government and not just NGOs for development.”

Khaled shuffled through Sohag meeting with community leaders, including priests and Sohag’s governor. According to Khaled’s team, some signs showed business might return to usual earlier this week as security forces and local government, worried about continued workers’ strikes and demonstrations in the poor governorate, told Khaled and his team they couldn’t come to Sohag.

“We simply went ahead anyway,” said Gamal Al Etribi, head of Life Makers in Egypt. “It’s still the mind of the old government, but hopefully the power (of the revolution) will change this.”

Ayman, 40, hopes so. “We have a large amount of ignorance in Sohag. It’s a village system, and we suffer a lot,” he said, making ‘asab, a sugar-cane juice in his store across the square where Khaled delivered a lecture after Friday’s prayer. “We need people like him to come here.”

A few streets down, Salafis gathered at Al Haq mosque to listen to a lecture by another formerly censored figure, the prominent Salafi Sheikh Yasser Borhamy from Alexandria. A critic of the former government, Borhamy’s website (salafvoice.com) had been shut down by Mubarak’s regime in the past.

“Look, they have different points of view, different than Khaled’s maybe,” said Life Maker Hassam Marey. “But after all, we are all Muslims. It’s just a matter of applications. We are all brothers.”

Though an accountant-turned-preacher, youth like Heba El Said, 23, say Khaled has been an inspirational spiritual leader.

“Amr Khaled advises us and speaks to our hearts. He doesn’t give us orders on what I should or shouldn’t do,” she said. “I like, no, I love Amr Khaled and his way to discuss, his way to develop, his way to change.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Egypt • Islam

soundoff (291 Responses)
  1. jimzcarz

    Get Religion Out of Politics..Then you will have True Freedom...

    February 26, 2011 at 11:47 pm |
  2. Reality

    Simplifying the saving of 1.5 billion lost Muslim souls:

    There never was and never will be any angels i.e. no Gabriel, no Islam.

    Simplifying the saving of 2 billion lost Christian souls:

    The was and never will be any bodily resurrections i.e. No Easter, no Christianity.

    Simplifying the saving of 15.5 million Orthodox followers of Judaism:

    Abraham and Moses never existed.

    February 26, 2011 at 11:41 pm |
    • Re-all-ity

      @Reality: Please bring peace to this world and silence the ignorant one who do harm to others. Please feed the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Many have lost their jobs so that others might have more yahcts and mansions. Can you please do something about that? And bless everyone. Amen.

      February 26, 2011 at 11:54 pm |
    • Muneef

      Very big welcome to the true wise Re-all-ity. V-ampires love to swim in blo-ods-hed....

      February 27, 2011 at 6:51 am |
    • Reality

      Free Will and Future are inherent to all the thinking beings in the Universe. This being the case, god, if one exists, is not able to alter life and requests/prayers will not be answered. Statistically, your request might come true but it is simply the result of the variabiliy/randomness of Nature.

      So put down your rosaries and prayer beads and stop worshiping/revering cows and bowing to Mecca five times a day. Instead work hard at your job, take care of aging parents, volunteer at a soup kitchen, donate to charities and the poor and any good rules of living as gracious and good human beings.

      February 27, 2011 at 7:44 am |
    • Misled Honor

      @Reality – I think he was praying to you, thinking you were God, since you seem to "know it all". So glad to read free will exists, when so much, if not all, of our thoughts and experiences were derived from somewhere else, for which we had and have, little control over. Only absent mindedness makes us think that we are the only ones, responsible for all our thoughts alone, leading to our next actions through our complete "free will", which always has a cost and therefore isn't free.

      Only thinking beings move into the future? I'm so glad all the animals, plants and inert matter come along too. I was worried about that, because if they didn't, it would seem "like a break in Reality". They must think in ways we can't comprehend yet.

      So sad to have such a cold uncaring point of view, that the comfort of others upsets so much. Don't you know that by praying to and believing in you, in any of your wonderful forms, helps so many to do those things you command, both outside and inside the books, as necessary. No one demands you pray to yourself of course, but who knows what the power of positive thought can do, when mixed with right actions. If others motivate theirself in ways unfamiliar to you, why should that upset you so much? Oh I'm sorry. Forgive me. I forgot who I was addressing.

      February 27, 2011 at 9:32 am |
  3. Ahmed

    Anyone who criticizes Amr Khaled just because he is Muslim, doesn't know anything about him and is Islamophobic. Khaled has been doing shows and many, many community projects over several years. If you know anything about him, you will know how good he is. I hope he runs for president and gets elected. The only downfall is his inexperience in politics.

    February 26, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
  4. Johan S

    Anyone who encourages others to commit suicide is a lunatic. Anyone.

    Why this fascination with dying for causes? How about valuing human beings? How about valuing the individual rights of human beings. The right to not have things stolen by the government. The right to not have government regulate your business and daily interactions? The idea that government should never be intrusive, that it should never infringe on a person's right to believe and say what they like?

    February 26, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
  5. Patrick

    Quite a scandalous and misleading headline on the front page. "Kill Yourself for Egypt" – come on CNN.

    February 26, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
  6. Tommas

    Other aspects of sharia aside, if the two genders are not treated equally its a load of medieval oppression

    February 26, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
  7. viaad

    Everyone better beware, muslims will hold your views against you and chop off your head for being a non believer.

    February 26, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
  8. Joe

    The future looks brighter. What impresses me the most is how much the Muslim youth seem to love this guy. They want to move on and be a productive members of the global community as much as any group of people. Very nice article to read.

    February 26, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
  9. viaad

    Oh, I forgot.... Muslims suck, and couldnt run a a counrty to save their lives!

    February 26, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
    • Re-all-ity

      Such a profound thought to have trouble remembering?

      February 26, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
  10. trex

    Just replace "Egypt" with the USA, and he would be on TV tonight.

    February 26, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
  11. Rev. Schaeffer

    Dear CNN – Thank you so much for choosing a less antagonistic and emotionally charged headline. That's the kind of thing that will keep me coming back, not your hooks. ;o)

    February 26, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
  12. viaad

    Wow! Another country for the muslims to make perfect. First, lets unemploy all women. Second, kick all females out of school to ensure that theyre illetrate. Third, lets declare war on everyone who diesnt believe in the ol' prophet moham!

    Oh yeah, we will chop off the heads of all males who dont grow a beard!

    February 26, 2011 at 9:14 pm |
    • Klaark

      Where did he say that? Oh, he didn't? Guess you're an idiot, then.

      February 26, 2011 at 9:19 pm |
    • trex

      Wow, you really studied spelling in grade school, dontchano.

      February 26, 2011 at 9:20 pm |
  13. Muslim

    Amazing anti-Islamics would found any excuse to badmouth Islam, even when it's a good preacher that's preaching peace.

    February 26, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
    • Frank.from.SC

      You muslims do a good enough job with your bad behavior and fanatical aggression that we non-muslims don't have to do or say anything to make you look bad. You do it better than we ever could. You and your religion precedes you.

      February 26, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
    • frank's inspiration

      I see hitler really had a good impression on you frank

      February 26, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
    • Frank.from.SC

      @ Frank's Inspiration, much like Osama bin Laden clearly had on you.

      February 26, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
    • Re-all-ity

      @Muslim – As you can see from above, some on both sides only know how to be anti. Its so much easier than trying to understand. Many of us though would hate to be judged for things like Abu Ghraib (forgive spelling if incorrect). That was just sick sick sick.

      February 26, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
    • Christian Egyptian

      For those talk about Hitler. What moslims doing to christian and other minorities in Egypt is worst than what Hitler did. Do you remember the last church bombing a month ago, what about the pries that his head was cut a week ago, what about nagaa hamadi killing last year, also the twenty two people that were burned alive in Koshah 2000, also 82 were burned alive in Zawia elhamra 1979, besides countless killing, church bombing. Do you know my friend that Christian must show in their nationla ID the religion (exactly what Hitler did to the jews). Do you know that you need the president approval to build a new church in Egypt. Shall I keep on ......

      February 26, 2011 at 10:49 pm |
    • Re-all-ity

      @Christain Egyptian – yes I agree those are deplorable actions, just like Osama's and Crusaders and those that believe all the money in the world should be theirs, but are they the whole group of people who do such crimes or are these just the acts of criminals who should be treated as such even if they are using religion as an excuse for bad behavior. There have been many instances here in US as well, both way. At what point does it stop. When every one is dead? Surely God will judge us all then, even the atheists as they will be the worst they could concieve of being, dead. I may be wrong but I still believe the average person, no matter the side, just wants to live peacefully without problems and only the ones that don't should be punished for their deeds.

      February 26, 2011 at 11:09 pm |
    • Christian Egyptian

      @ Re-all-ity
      Totally agree with you and that is why everyone muslims christians ... were part of the revolution. Now all of sudden the muslims brotherhood are stealing everything away, and mixing religion with politics, which is something the history showed to be complete disaster (crusades, Iran, Saudis, Taliban, Sudan, Hamas, Hizbollah,...Egypt????
      Believe my friend there are more than eight millions non muslims in Egypt looking for their respect, dignity, and civil rights. Muslim brotherhood through history (since the time they killed their spiritual leader hassan elbana) they are bunch of LIARS, violent radical that are looking for their idiologies. I don't want to see Egypt in the hands of these terrorists !!!!

      February 26, 2011 at 11:23 pm |
    • Re-all-ity

      @Christain Egyptian – I understand. The crimes that happened occurrred under Mubarrack, so I can't believe you want a dictator back who would allow that to occur some more, but you fear that worse will happen now. What can be done? If this is truly an Egyptian people's revolution, then are your people not allowed to have your say as well. Surely it will look bad for all Egyptians if not. Perhaps this is the time to raise your voice to those who can help and maybe you have and are. I wish you good luck and success.

      February 26, 2011 at 11:48 pm |
  14. Kermit Roosevelt

    "I don’t have a stronger message than this: Kill yourself working for Egypt,”

    Oooh, oowww, poor choice of words when addressing young Muslims...

    February 26, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
    • mohamad

      i think he met that sarcastically

      February 26, 2011 at 10:09 pm |
    • Someone

      It's just horribly translated. A more accurate translation would be "work yourself to death for Egypt".

      February 26, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
  15. Kevin

    Lies Lies Lies, all Muslim people will tell lies to get the advantage. If you lie, its ok, as long as it advances the spead of Islam throughout the whole world.

    February 26, 2011 at 8:50 pm |
    • Klaark

      Please leave my country. You're the problem. Bigot.

      February 26, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
    • Frank.from.SC

      Most truthful, accurate post I have read. Islam is not a peaceful religion, and muslims will lie to get the upper hand and then force their beliefs and culture upon us. It has already begun...

      February 26, 2011 at 9:21 pm |
    • Frank.from.SC

      @ klaark, why dont you either get on your camel or magic carpet and get out of OUR country. And please put on some deodorant. Why do all muslims have a need to have BO?

      February 26, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
    • Tommas

      Umm, all religions are lies. And in reference to violence, have you ever read the bible?

      February 26, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
    • Yankee

      Wow, a redneck from South Carolina criticizing someone about hygiene. Only on the internet...

      February 26, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
    • Mohamed Z. Rahaman

      He kevin... do you feel better now that you have exposed yourself as a hateful bigot.

      February 26, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
    • Frank.from.SC

      @ Yankee, down here in SC we hold you yankees in the same regard as the muslims. Come on down here and let us "rednecks" show you some good old fashioned southern hospitality, "redneck" style. Hope you need a colonoscopy because you'll be leaving with one.

      February 27, 2011 at 7:23 am |
  16. hayfield

    It seems that each person thinks they know a little more than the others. That is each thinks they are more intelligent than other people. Why is it that I'm the only one smart enough to know that. I know about religion but why should I tell you? I'm not asking for donations.

    February 26, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
  17. batata

    Glad he's back !! He has a good following and he has good ideas. He is needed now and will do good to the Egyptians and Egypt.

    February 26, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
  18. Joop Kaashoek

    People should be wary, since Khomeini in Iran initially convinced liberals and intellectuals he would not create a theocracy, but once he was in power he killed them all off. In Islam it is allowed to lie when fighting adversaries.This could be an example.

    February 26, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
    • standingwave

      Do you really think the message he is spreading now would so easily be forgotten?

      February 26, 2011 at 8:43 pm |
  19. felixblock

    Proving a negation or a non existence is philosophically and logically impossible. It follows that proving that God does not exist is impossible. This fact is used and sometimes abused by all priests of all religions in ordertto make a living. As far as the TV muslim preacher is concerned, he too belongs to the preacher population (I am guessing that he is an Imam), he sounds OK, but I cannot forget the fable of the wolve in a sheep's skin.

    February 26, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
  20. Omar

    The only question is, is he a proponent of shariah? If so, then the prospects for freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and equality before the law under his guidance are negligible.

    February 26, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
    • SayWhaaa!!!

      If you are a Muslim then it is sad to see that this is your opinion about sharia. If you are not then I don't think freedoms are based on the western model of freedom.

      February 26, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
    • Allah

      Ya, the womens have to knows their place.

      February 26, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
    • kelley

      @SayWhaaa!!! A cigar by any other name is still a cigar. Freedom is freedom. You can't take away someone's basic human rights and cloak it in the name of "God's Law". It's really very simple ... Treat others as you would like to be treated.

      February 26, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
    • Jeff

      @Kelley Speaking as a non-Muslim, I disagree with your assessment. Freedom means different things to different people. For example, let's say there's people living at the top of a large cliff. If nobody builds a fence, are the people free because they can leap off the side if they want? Or would they be more free if there was a fence in place, preventing the people from having to worry about someone accidentally falling off? Personally, I would vote for the latter, but others wouldn't and I respect their opinion on the issue.

      I agree with your last sentence about treating others as you wish to be treated, but I would add that this is only the case if they wish to be treated that way as well.

      February 26, 2011 at 8:58 pm |
    • hillbilleter

      @Jeff" So, you're saying that true freedom isn't putting a fence on the cliff, but an ambulance in the valley beneath. There's a poem concerning that very topic.

      February 26, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
    • Frank.from.SC

      There is no such thing as peaceful Islam. Keep your sharia laws in the middle east, don't bring them to the US. And if you don't like our laws, Delta is ready when you are.

      February 26, 2011 at 9:19 pm |
    • hillbilleter

      @Jeff: Sorry. Your "fence on the cliff" analogy, mixed with my flu symptoms, made popcorn, evidently. Never mind.

      February 26, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
    • Tommas

      The other aspects of sharia aside, if the two genders are not treated equally its a load of medieval oppression

      February 26, 2011 at 9:22 pm |
    • hayfield

      So very true.

      February 26, 2011 at 9:23 pm |
    • kelley

      @Jeff Sorry, you are a little "out there" for me.

      February 26, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
    • Re-all-ity

      @kelly I think you mean "Treat others as they would like to be treated". If you're a masochist who likes to be beat. Please don't treat others like that.

      February 26, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
    • Misled Honor

      @Re-all-ity: unless that is how they want to be treated.

      February 27, 2011 at 10:35 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.