Cairo: Employees at a popular Cairo-based Islamic website have vowed to continue their strike and launch a fundraiser to build a new site "to promote moderate Islam" after Qatar installed an alleged conservative new board to run the 10-year-old IslamOnline.
"We will launch a worldwide initiative to set up a new website to promote moderate Islam through an international contribution," the 340 employees, who have been on strike since March 15, said in a statement.
"We are determined to continue our strike until we get our financial entitlements and to protect the intellectual mission for which IslamOnline was set up in 1999," they added in a statement, a copy of which was obtained by Gulf News.
The employees were infuriated this week when they learnt Shaikh Yousuf Al Qaradawi, an eminent Egyptian-born Qatari Muslim cleric, was removed as chairman of the Al Balagh Society, which owns the site.
"The dismissal of employees and the removal of Al Qaradawi actually target the moderate mission of IslamOnline," said Hesham Jafar, an editor at the site. "We have learnt that the new board is displeased with the editorial policy of the site, particularly topics addressing young people and women," he told Gulf News.
He claimed that three Qatari members of the board were behind this turmoil, which started earlier this month by referring employees to a disciplinary action for alleged violations of editorial regulations.
"They [the three Qataris] do not want IslamOnline to interact with issues of modern life. Since its launch in 1999, the website has adopted a line of [Islamic] moderation and [observed] high professionalism."
According to Jafar, the initiative to set up an alternative website will take the shape of a stock company.
"Its stakes will be available for everyone. Employees will donate a portion of their still-withheld entitlements to this project. Islamic symbols and institutions should also support this idea."
"This collective funding [of the suggested website] will block the repetition of the IslamOnline hijacking," said Adel Al Qadi, another editor at the troubled site.