(Photo: Egyptian preacher Amr Khaled preaches in Aden November 24, 2010/Khaled Abdullah)
Yemen has enlisted the help of the popular Egyptian television preacher Amr Khaled to help it dislodge militant Islamists’ foothold within its conservative population. The impoverished Arabian Peninsula state, already juggling conflicts in its north and south, is struggling to combat a resurgent wing of al-Qaeda that experts say exploits Yemen’s instability to launch attacks in the region and beyond.
Yemen security forces have launched several military campaigns, including air raids and blockades of cities, to root out suspected al Qaeda militants in Yemen’s south.
Khaled, who CBS television has called “the Billy Graham of Islam,” is a charismatic and moderate populist Muslim preacher known for wooing crowds of upper-middle class Egyptian youths in a high-pitched voice. He’s often described as a “televangelist” or — putting it more Islamically — “telemufti.”
He has now launched a campaign to win the hearts and minds of Yemen’s young people. “The goal of this project is to uproot extremism and spread moderation, to show the true face of Islam, and show a bright picture of Yemen to the world,” Khaled said at an event marking the opening of his campaign in the southern port city of Aden.
Never heard of Amr Khaled? Here’s that CBS television report on him:
Here’s a Gallup video interview with him in English: