Muslim leader fans violent fires Sadat death tied to Abdel-Rahman

March 05, 1993|By Newsday

JERUSALEM -- Omar Abdel-Rahman, the blind Muslim preacher from Cairo, is a thorn in the side of Muslim regimes all over the Middle East, but none of them fear and abhor him like Egypt.

A former scholar of Cairo's Al-Azhar University, world center of Islamic learning, the 54-year-old professor is the spiritual mentor of an increasingly violent fundamentalist movement and was accused of ordering the 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.

He was acquitted in court, but forced out of the country.

But Professor Abdel-Rahman recently told an interviewer, from his chosen place of exile, Jersey City, N.J., that Mr. Sadat's own "crimes and infernal behavior" made it unnecessary to order the former president's murder.

"Islam will prevail in Egypt," the preacher vowed, even if it takes the assassination of yet another Egyptian president to bring about the desired anti-Western and puritanical Muslim society.

Since leaving Egypt, Professor Abdel-Rahman has spent time in Sudan, England, Denmark, Sweden and Switzerland. In New Jersey, where he holds forth at the al-Salaam, or peace, mosque, the sheik now keeps a congregation of expatriate Arabs spellbound with his fiery speeches and provides inspiration to his followers back in Egypt.

Tapes of his sermons are hot in Cairo slums and in Upper Egypt, where he once taught theology at Assiut University.

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