In a telephone interview with Aljazeera.net, Shaikh al-Qaradawi said his words were taken out of context.

 

"I said that the occupation of any Muslim country should be resisted, I never used the words Americans and civilians."

 

"Wherever and whenever there is an occupation, there would be a resistance. That is natural," he said.

 

Described as a moderate, al-Qaradawi was one of 93 prominent Islamic figures who in August called on Muslims around the world to support resistance against the US occupation of Iraq and its proxy Iraqi government.

After the September 11, 2001 attacks on US cities, Qaradawi urged Muslims worldwide to donate blood to help the victims. He also condemned the 2002 Bali bombing as barbaric and immoral but he caused controversy during a visit to Britain in July after condoning some human bomber attacks.

 

He is a prominent poet; writer, public speaker and preacher who attracts a wide audience. 

Al-Qaradawi is revered in much of the Muslim world for his intellectual rigour and ability to adapt the fundamental tenets of Islam to the modern world.

 

Mediation

 

The Qatar-based Shaikh al-Qaradawi headed a delegation to Sudan to start mediation between warring parties in Darfur.

 

He met on Friday with Sudanese interior minister and representative of the president of Sudan Abd al-Rahim Muhammad and held talks about Darfur.

 

The revered scholar hopes to use his good relations with all parties to try to reach a settlement in the war torn province of Darfur.

 

Release French journalists

 

Al-Qaradawi is also involved in efforts to release the two French journalists held in Iraq.

 

"If those kidnappers care about the reputation of Islam then they should free the two French journalists," he said.

 

Al-Qaradawi said the presence of the French journalists "broke the American monopoly on relaying information and facts (on the situation in Iraq) to the outside world."

 

He also referred to France's foreign policy in dealing with the Islamic and Arab worlds, which he said could serve as an example to other countries.

 

The kidnapping of Georges Malbrunot and Christian Chesnot on August 20 by a group called the Islamic Army in Iraq has deeply shocked France which was a fierce opponent of the U.S.-led invasion and has no troops in Iraq.

 

The kidnappers have demanded that Paris rescind a law banning Muslim headscarves and other conspicuous religious symbols from state schools.

 

The deadline passed on Wednesday and France put the ban into force on Thursday.