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. TamerS

    Great preacher who inspires a lot of egyptians and muslims around the globe and who represents the true face of islam that promotes equality, justice and tolerance. I am confident that Egypt, a country where one of the first civilisations was established and that currently pocesses rich resources both intellectual and physical is capable of building a true democracy for the best of its people and its region.

    February 27, 2011 at 9:08 am |
  2. getoverit

    just because we see more violent ways of islam, does not mean that christianity or christians have given up violence. missionaries exploit people and i'm yet to meet more intolerant group than christians on this planet. you can always google francois gautier chirstian missionaries to read more about these culturally violent people who are bent upon destrying every bit of diversity in the world.

    February 27, 2011 at 9:05 am |
  3. Patrick L

    The message is about peace and love
    Obvious that is lacking among this blogs writers

    February 27, 2011 at 8:56 am |
  4. regertz

    Getting to the point of the article, a good sign that there's hope for the Egyptian revolution to result in democracy and peace and we should pay attention to what's going on, supporting democracy as we can rather than listening to ignorant rascists who want to shout about the Muslim Brotherhood and the need to put a new Mubarak in Egypt. The surest way to bring extremist fundamentalists to power is to denounce all Egyptians as extremists unworthy of democracy.

    February 27, 2011 at 8:52 am |
  5. TamerS

    Great preacher who inspires a lot of egyptians and muslims, who shows the true face of islam which promotes equality, tolerance and justice. I am confident that a country where one of the first civilisations was established and that is rich of resources both intellectual and physical is capable of re-writing its modern history to the best.

    February 27, 2011 at 8:49 am |
  6. Patrick L

    I'm not Muslim nor Egyptian
    Peace message is for everyone

    February 27, 2011 at 8:46 am |
  7. thor

    Finally. A voice of reason, logic and hope amidst the rigamoral of opportunistic Islamofascists and greedy politicians. Let's hope this kind of change is contagious.

    February 27, 2011 at 8:25 am |
  8. Mary Poppins

    When will the world learn??? Islam is not a peaceful religion and it's followers are mandated to kill infidels who do not agree, believe, or support it.

    February 27, 2011 at 6:58 am |
  9. AA Ehsan


    I believe it makes big difference to put the message as" Die working hard for Egypt" rather "Kill Yourself...."

    Is CNN trying to make some point out of mis-tranlation ?

    February 27, 2011 at 6:46 am |
  10. Elmer

    One of the great things about the events in Egypt was the coming together of the Coptic Christian minority and the Muslim majority. During all the chaos, there was not one report of Muslim violence to the Coptics. One wishes that the so-called "Christians" in the US were as tolerant to people who believe in other religions. How did Jesus become the nail-filled baseball bat of hatred?

    February 27, 2011 at 6:44 am |
  11. Tim

    Reality said "The was and never will be any bodily resurrections" How do you know this is true?

    February 27, 2011 at 1:34 am |
    • Reality

      The Big Resurrection Con Game and How to Conquer It:

      From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

      Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

      To wit;

      From a major Catholic university's theology grad school white-board notes:

      "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
      Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

      Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

      Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

      The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

      Only Luke's Gospel records it. The Assumption ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

      "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."

      The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

      Of course, we all know that angels are really mythical "pretty wingie talking thingies".

      With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

      An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,
      "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."
      o p.168. by Ted Peters:
      "Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

      So where are the bones? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

      February 27, 2011 at 7:37 am |
  12. Tim

    asked: "What kind of lame question is that? " in reference to my question "How do you know that no resurrection ever happened?"

    It is a direct request for why someone asserted that no resurrection has ever occurred. I was wondering how he came to such certainty.

    February 27, 2011 at 1:31 am |
    • Fredegar

      Then may you get one of his reiterations to the Nth degree.

      Without proof, ANY proof, that an event occurred, is sufficient grounds for being pretty damn certain that said event is just made-up BS. Thousands of old, goofy religions have gone by the wayside throughout history. NONE of them could actually do much more than lead people around by the nose into believing ridiculous nonsense.

      There is nothing to show that YOUR religion is any different, Tim. The whole damn Bible has been debunked to hell and back using independent verification and reasoning. We have a consensus, not a religion. A consensus that religion is utter BS.
      We have all come to our conclusions independently using real-world PROOF.
      You cannot say the same, can you? Not as a "follower" of a religion. You actually REVEL in the fact that you have NO PROOF and say that your "faith" requires an ABSENCE of proof!
      You don't have a leg to stand on and you know it.

      February 27, 2011 at 1:48 am |
    • Tim

      Fredegar, So you're saying you know that no resurrection occurred because you are omnipresent and you directly observed no such occurrence? Is that right?

      February 27, 2011 at 1:56 am |
    • Fredegar

      I said no such thing. Why don't you try reading my reply again instead of trying to twist my words?

      If you are so dead set on demanding real-world proof, why the hell don't you do that for your religious delusions?

      Where are the words written by Jesus? All you have is stuff written thousands of years ago. Has nothing happened since then? Nothing? How long were you planning on waiting for your god to answer prayers? To show up? To DO anything in the real world?
      You know, the real world?
      I suspect that even if someone presented you with total proof you would still hold on to your delusions. Debunked is debunked. You cannot see what is happening all around you. Maybe you should go back to taking advantage of your little religion and leave the arguing to someone with proof to back up their assertions.
      You have NOTHING.

      February 27, 2011 at 2:05 am |
  13. tallulah13

    Okay, so this is a story about a religious leader actually doing good for his country, preaching tolerance and trying to bring the people of Egypt out of chaos and into modern life, and all half of you can do is talk about Jesus and dam-nation? Jesus has nothing to do with this. What a worthless crowd you are. I may be an atheist, but even I can see that Egypt needs this guy, not a radical cleric.

    February 27, 2011 at 1:28 am |
  14. Tim

    Darwin believed that everything was composed of protoplasm. It was thought of as a simple analog like process. His understanding of the complexity was in error by hundreds of thousands.

    February 27, 2011 at 1:16 am |
    • regertz

      No, Darwin found clear evidence that life had evolved from less complex forms, that the process was still ongoing, and that the Biblical legends of near-instaneous, complete creation were untrue. He didn't know of protoplasm, that wasn't discovered for some time yet. If one likes one is free to believe God started the process...As a semi-Catholic I sit on the fence and say God's not impossible but I won't kill people based on the dogmatic statements of people about their version of him. Jesus is a fine moral teacher...Whether the New Testament tales are true or not...I think some are unlikely given other historical evidence but I'm open to the possibility. I like his philosophy of loving one's neighbor and his cry for social justice and equality for the poor. First Tim, live that doctrine. Many of us try to even if we don't claim an absolute faith.

      February 27, 2011 at 8:49 am |
  15. jordan

    Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life...no man can come to the father except through Him...

    February 27, 2011 at 1:08 am |
    • Alberto

      In my reply to Pastor Evans above, I asked: But of course, God is all-forgiving and all-accepting, and accept even those who do not come to him through Jesus Christ, no? Isn't God, a God of love, not punishment?
      Otherwise, I'm sure that you too, have photos of those turned away by God, to prove to us all that this is the only way.

      February 27, 2011 at 3:52 am |
  16. Tim

    "Reality," Please tell us how you know that there never was a resurrection.

    February 27, 2011 at 1:07 am |
    • Fredegar

      What kind of lame question is that? Are you nothing but an empty-headed troll?

      How about this: YOU say this happened and you have no proof. None. Not a single speck of evidence.

      You have nothing written by Jesus, who was supposedly well-educated. Not a single thing. Ever.
      Where's YOUR proof that he even existed? These are things YOU say happened.

      Therefore YOU need to prove that they are true. SOMETHING. ANYTHING.

      But you have NOTHING.

      February 27, 2011 at 1:28 am |
    • Tim

      Fredegar, Why do I need proof of anything to ask someone why they confidently said that no resurrection has ever occurred? Why am I empty headed to ask someone to qualify their assertion?

      February 27, 2011 at 1:53 am |
    • Fredegar

      Ok, you silly little man, I'll throw it right back at you.

      How do you know the human race didn't come here in a giant space-ark? What? Your book written by liars tells you different?

      February 27, 2011 at 2:30 am |
    • Misled Honor

      @Fredgar: A lie is a conscious effort to tell something that is totally untrue. We are all capable of saying or writing things untrue or not totally true, without being liars, as we are only human beings with limited perceptions. Please prove that you aren't and more will believe your perceptions instead of what they have now. Please prove that everything written in these texts are lies, as is your belief or perception, and you will be believed. It's a so much larger and difficult task that your perceptions lead you to believe. If you don't feel you have to, then without resorting to name calling, what is your productive point?

      February 27, 2011 at 9:51 am |
  17. Who Farted

    Hey, if these people can't get their act together, they may need a preacher to eulogize them.
    (Or should I have said "euthanize"?)
    One thing deluded people have going for them is their indoctrination-support-people. There are a LOT of them, taking up space and sucking up air. This one blows air out as well. A fine addition to the situation in Egypt. I wish them well.

    February 27, 2011 at 12:57 am |
  18. tj

    god is just like santa, it's time to move on.

    February 27, 2011 at 12:55 am |
    • Nancy Mohamed

      Nooo. God does exist. I pray for you

      February 27, 2011 at 4:02 am |
  19. 5xad0w

    If his message were not at least partially on key with Western ideology he wouldn't be a "Muslim Preacher" he would be an "Islamic Cleric".

    No deep meaning behind that statement on my part, I just like words and their many uses.

    February 27, 2011 at 12:47 am |
  20. Pastor Evans

    Matthew 6:33!!!

    See and enter the Kingdom of God and everything will be all right with you!!! The Kingdom of God wants and welcomes all who come through Jesus Christ!!!


    February 27, 2011 at 12:23 am |
    • Alberto

      But of course, God is all-forgiving and all-accepting, and accept even those who do not come to him through Jesus Christ, no? Isn't God, a God of love, not punishment?
      Otherwise, I'm sure you photos of those turned away by God, to prove to us all that this is the only way.

      February 27, 2011 at 3:50 am |
    • TexTeacher

      You need only to vist American High Schools one hour, yes just one hour to learn why the US is no roll model!

      February 27, 2011 at 9:16 am |
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About this blog

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.